If you’re planning to buy or sell a home, “title” and “deed” are two key terms you’ll want to have down cold. When a seller (known as the grantor) transfers ownership of a house to a buyer (known as the grantee), both the deed and the title transfer. Property deeds are legal documents used in real estate that transfers ownership of real property from a grantor (seller) to a grantee (buyer). Real property is land or anything attached to the land, such as buildings or roads. For a deed to be legally operative, it must include the identification of the grantor and grantee and the adequate description of the property.
4+ Real Estate Deed Samples
1. Real Estate Deed of Sale
2. Real Estate Quitclaim Deed
3. Real Estate Deed Transfer
4. Real Estate Deed Order Form
5. Sample Real Estate Deed
What is a Real Estate Deed
Deeds are legal documents used to transfer property in real estate transactions. In the most common types of deeds, the owner of a property acts as a grantor who transfers the title to their property to a grantee in exchange for money or some other form of consideration.
Most deeds are recorded in public records—including real estate deeds but also sheriff’s deeds and tax deeds—and typically contain a description of the property and the current owner of the property. Individuals use these records to confirm ownership of residential and commercial property and governments use them to enforce property tax laws.
Details to Include in a Real Estate Deed
- They must be in writing. While most deeds are completed on printed forms, there is no legal requirement that any specific form is used as long as the essential elements are included.
- The grantor must have the legal capacity to transfer the property and the grantee must be capable of receiving the grant of the property. A person who is competent to make a valid contract is considered competent to be a grantor.
- The grantor and grantee must be identified in such a way as to be ascertainable.
- The property must be adequately described.
- Operative words of conveyance must be present. All standard form deeds include the necessary legal language that actually transfers the property.
- The deed must be signed by the grantor or grantors if the property is owned by more than one person.
- The deed must be legally delivered to the grantee or to someone acting on the grantee’s behalf.
- The deed must be accepted by the grantee. Typically, deeds are accepted by the grantee but in certain circumstances, the grantee could reject delivery of the deed.
What are the common types of deeds?
- Quitclaim Deed: A quitclaim deed is used to transfer property between familiar parties, such as family members or even divorced spouses. That’s because unlike other types of deeds, a quitclaim deed offers little legal protection to the grantee (the recipient of the transfer). In addition, there are no legal protections against liens or other encumbrances that might exist on the property. Quitclaim deeds involve a high degree of trust as a result, and are preferred by people who know each other well. This type of deed can also be used if the grantor isn’t entirely sure of the title’s status, and whether or not it has any defects.
- Deed of Trust: A deed of trust transfers the title of an asset from a trustor to the trustee for the benefit of a third party, known as the beneficiary. Most often, a deed of trust is used instead of a mortgage, acting as security against a loan that a trustor has transferred to a trustee. Essentially, the trustee holds the property until the borrower has paid off the debt, agreeing to sell the property in the event that the borrower defaults on their loan. The trustee retains possession of the legal title to the property (which entails legal and financial responsibility), while the borrower keeps the equitable title, meaning they are legally able to enjoy or use the property.
- Warranty Deed: Different types of warranty deeds are used to offer various legal protections to the grantor, in the event there’s a problem or defect with the title once it’s been transferred. Warranty deeds come with different levels of protection, and are split into two distinct categories:
- General Warranty Deed: Typically used in residential real estate transactions, a general warranty deed guarantees that the seller has the full legal right to sell the property, and that the property is completely free and clear of debts, liens, or other encumbrances. This type of deed comes with the most significant protection for the grantee, and provides them legal recourse in the event an unsettled debt or issue with the deed arises.
- Special Warranty Deed: A special warranty deed protects a grantee against any issues or claims that might have arisen during the time the grantor owned the property entirely. It doesn’t apply to the entire history of the property, as the property’s whole history isn’t likely known by the current owner. Most often, this type of deed is used in the sale of residential real estate, or for commercial property.
- Grant Deed: A grant deed is a specific deed type that transfers the interest in a property from the seller to the buyer in exchange for a previously agreed upon price. While the grant deed guarantees that the seller owns the property entirely, it doesn’t offer the buyer legal protection against any title defects such as an: error in public records, improper signature, undisclosed lien, and boundary dispute.
- Bargain and Sale Deed: This type of real estate deed is used in the sale or transfer of residential real estate; however, it offers no guarantee that the property is free of debts or liens. It only states that the grantor is the title-holder, and little else. As with a quitclaim deed, the grantee would acquire any lien in place against the property along with the title.
- Mortgage Deed: A mortgage deed is a document signed between a homeowner and a bank or lending institution, allowing said institution to put a lien on the property if the loan isn’t repaid. This deed secures property as collateral for a loan — meaning a “mortgage payment” is paid towards a loan debt, with the house serving as security in the event of a default.
What is the difference between a title and a deed?
The biggest difference between a deed and a title is the physical component. A deed is an official written document declaring a person’s legal ownership of a property, while a title refers to the concept of ownership rights. Here’s a way to remember the difference: although you can own a physical copy of a book, you can’t hold a book’s title in your hand. In this way, a book title and a property title are the same: neither are physical objects, but rather concepts. A deed, on the other hand, can be in your physical possession after you purchase property.
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