For many people, the process of buying a home is new experience. It’s a big, important purchase, and, considering the longterm nature of the decision, it’s something you want to get right the first time. In order to to that, it’s important to understand, at least in a basic sense, how the real estate industry works. Understanding the market and its terminology, regardless of the type of property you’re looking for, can go a long way when it comes time to close on a home.
In the past, property was transferred through a ceremonial act known as “livery of seisin.” This act allowed people to transfer property from one person to another by handing them a key, twig, or clump of soil. Although a written statement was often included in these ceremonies, it was the act of transfer itself, or “livery of seisin,” that formed the legal basis for the property sale.
As you might expect, the practice of transferring property through key and twig exchanges has long past. In today’s market, the transfer of real property is conveyed through the use of deeds. Property deeds, which come in a variety of forms, are legal documents used to assign or transfer ownership of real property from one party to another.
In all cases, property deeds most be signed by both the grantor and grantee – the grantor is the person selling the property and the grantee is the person buying it. In order for the deed to be legally binding, it must also include several key parts.
Listed below are some of the necessary elements of a property deed:
- The deed must include a sufficient description of the property.
- There must be a clause in the deed that indicates conveyance of the title.
- The names of the grantor and grantee must be listed, and both must be legally competent.
- In order to be legally transferred, the deed must be delivered and accepted by the grantee.
Although these are the primary elements found in property deeds, other requirements may still exist. Deed requirements vary from state to state, so make sure to look up the particulars for your area.
Types of deeds:
General warranty deed – This type of deed offers the grantee maximum protection. With general warranty deeds, the grantor makes a series of legally binding promises, called covenants, to the grantee. These guarantees include the covenant of seisin, in which the grantor warrants that they own the property and have the legal right to sell it, the covenant against encumbrances, which states that the grantor is free of any liens or encumbrances that aren’t otherwise stated in the deed, the covenant of quiet enjoyment, which means the title will hold up against any other party seeking to establish ownership of the property, and the covenant of further assurance, in which the grantor promises they will deliver any document necessary to make the title good.
Grant deed – Grant deeds are most commonly used to transfer property in the state of California. These deeds contain two important guarantees – the grantor must state that the property has not been sold to someone else and that it does not have any liens or encumbrances against it. Although grant deeds do not have to be recorded to be considered valid, most sellers choose to have a notary present at the time of signing. Grant deeds include many of the same essential elements as general warranty deeds.
Quitclaim deed – This type of deed conveys, or “quits,” the total interest a party has in a property, but does not make any warranties or guarantees regarding the quality of the title. Because of its lack of warranties, quitclaim deeds are often used to transfer property between family members as gifts. They are also commonly used in divorces, where one spouse gives up their interest in a jointly owned marital home.
Although these are the most common types of property deeds used, there are other options. These include special warranty deeds, administrator’s deeds, executor’s deeds, and tax deeds, among others.