A deed is a document that transfers ownership of real estate from grantor to grantee. As there are usually two parties involved, the grantee wants to “receive the most” and the grantor wants to “give the least”. For this reason there is a gradient of “what is given”, ranging from virtually nothing being assured, to virtually absolute assurance going to the grantee.
Quit Claim Deed – used to transfer whatever ownership the grantor may have, possibly none whatsoever due to a title flaw. Grantee has no recourse. It’s also used to change vesting errors when a spelling error is in the vesting. It makes no warranty whatsoever.
Fiduciary Deed – issued by an agent (trustee, guardian, executor) acting in official capacity. Only the authority of the agent is warranted, think Quit Claim by other than “owner”. Often used by estates, trusts, sheriffs sales.
Bargain and Sale Deed – similar to Quit Claim, but the property is being sold rather than just relinquished. It does not guarantee that sellers’ ownership of the property is free and clear. Often used to transfer court seized property where the title chain is uncertain.
Trust Deed / Deed of Trust – used to secure a mortgage or note. It gives the trustee (typically the bank) the right to sell the property if the borrower defaults.
Grant Deed – provides assurance that the grantor owns the property and has not previously sold the property. And that there are no liens or encumbrances (made by the grantor) unless disclosed in the deed. Essentially saying the property is free of debt (of or by the grantor).
Special/Limited Warranty Deed – the grantor warrants clear title except for issues that existed prior to the grantor taking possession or are mentioned in the deed. Essentially the grantor is giving assurance that they did nothing to hinder clear title transfer. But, issues typically unknown to seller regarding title are not covered. Usually title insurance is required with the S/L WD to obtain bank approval for loans.
General Warranty Deed – Grantor conveys, without limitation, all of their right, title and interest to the property. Guaranteeing they are the rightful owner, property is free and clear of all encumbrances and debt (unless mentioned in deed). A key provision is that the grantor warrants the entire title chain, including issues prior to their taking possession to be clear, similar to title insurance. Grantor warrants having current title and possession.
Thus at one end of the spectrum is the quit claim deed, essentially saying “if it’s mine, it’s yours”; to the general warranty deed. With the GWD giving assurances as to clear ownership and the “Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”. The COQE assuring the grantee will not be disturbed or dispossessed by a party having a lien or superior title. As is so often the case with legal documents, the devil is in the details. Fortunately, the title of the deed can quickly eliminate formats that are undesired. However, deeds are usually associated with purchases involving large sums of money, often the largest single purchase in a person’s lifetime. Many review the HUD, TIL, Note and Mortgage very carefully. But, they assume “a deed is a deed”. It’s best to have a skilled real estate attorney explain the deed prior to signing this important document.
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The Closing Disclosure
The Signature Affidavit
The Compliance Agreement
Our string on Power of Attorney posts
The Deed of Trust
Affidavits — in general
Index of information about documents