A Quick Guide to Real Estate Deeds

The process of buying and selling real estate is complex and can be daunting for everyone, particularly for those who are dealing with their first transaction. It can get confusing because there are a lot of things you need to be aware of during the process, both for commercial and residential real estate deals. One of the most important elements of any real estate transaction is called the deed. Deeds are key because without one, your real estate transaction isn’t legally possible. In other words, deeds act as proof that the property was transferred from one person to another. But, what exactly is a deed?

Deeds are legal instruments that convey title and ownership of the real estate specified within. There are several types of deeds, and each type is different according to what is being conveyed from the grantor (i.e. the person who owns said real estate) and the grantee (i.e. the person that the real estate is being transferred to). In general, there are 4 types of deeds that are commonly used within the context of real estate, and each one conveys something different. Below we give a brief overview of each one.

1.   General Warranty Deed

We’re starting with the general warranty deed because it’s the strongest type of deed. It warrants that the grantor has the right to convey the piece of real estate and that the piece of property is free of any encumbrances (like a debt or other restriction on the grantor’s right to convey the title). Basically, the general warranty deed makes a whole lot of promises, including that the seller is willing and able to defend the title to the property, and that seller will compensate the buyer in the event that anything was incorrectly represented. The grantor here also makes the promise to settle any outstanding debts associated with the real estate.

2.   Special or Limited Warranty Deed

A special warranty deed is not as strong as a general warranty deed in that seller only warrants against title defects that occurred during the time seller owned the property.  In other words, there are no warranties against title defects prior to seller’s ownership.

3.   Quitclaim Deed

Unlike the previous types of deeds listed, quitclaim deeds do not provide for any types of warranties or protections. Instead, they merely convey the interest that the grantor had in the property, regardless of whether it was valid or not. In other words, the seller isn’t even promising that they have any legal ownership of it, just that they are transferring what they believe they have.  

4.   Deeds of Trust

Deeds of trust deal with property that is conveyed through, you guessed it, a trust. In these situations, the trustor is the creator of the trust that holds the property. They created the trust for the benefit of a person called the beneficiary, and the whole thing is administered by a person called the trustee. In these cases, the trustor conveys ownership to the trustee in a deed of trust to hold for the benefit of the beneficiary. It’s a little bit wordy, but basically, deeds of trust are instruments used when real property is being conveyed through a trust.

If you are selling or buying residential or commercial real estate, please contact Ser & Associates today at 305-222-7282 and let us take the worry out of all of your real estate transactions.