PRINCETON TITLE & ESCROW’S HELPFUL HINTS Release No. 2 (9/15/08)
Good afternoon. I hope everyone had a nice weekend. This is Princeton Title’s second Helpful Hint publication. Today’s Helpful Hint takes us to the world of Deeds.
GENERAL INFORMATION: A deed is a legal instrument used to grant a right. The deed is best known as the method of transferring title to real estate from one person(s) to another utilizing a “metes and bounds,” “lot and block” or condominium unit legal description.
HELPFUL HINT: There are basically three (3) types of deeds that are utilized to transfer real property. They are as follows: (1) Statutory or General Warranty Deed: With this deed the grantor (seller) guarantees that he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it to the grantee (buyer). The guarantee is not limited to the time the grantor owned the property; rather, it extends back to the property’s origins. A statutory/general warranty deed includes certain present and future covenants for title. (A) Present Covenants. Seller covenants that he/she promise that he/she has title and possession and can validly grant or convey both. Seller also promises that there are no encumbrances other than those disclosed to the Buyer. (B) Future Covenants. Seller covenants to protect and defend the Buyer against anyone who comes along later and claims paramount title to the property. The Statutory or General Warranty Deed is what is typically utilized in all residential resale transactions. (2) Special Warranty Deed: The Special Warranty Deed is similar to the Statutory Deed except that with the Special Warranty Deed the grantor (seller) only warrants title against claims which occurred after the grantor obtained title to the real estate not from the beginning of time. More specifically, with Special Warranty Deeds the grantor does not warrant against title defects arising from conditions that existed before he/she owned the property. The grantor merely warrants that he/she has not created or suffered any defect in title to occur during the period that he/she owned the property being transferred.
Special Warranty Deeds afford greater protection to the grantee than quitclaim deeds (See below) but less protection than statutory warranty deeds. The Special Warranty Deed is often utilized by developers in new construction transactions. (3) Quit Claim Deed: These deeds afford the least amount of protection to the grantee (buyer). A Quitclaim Deed does not include any promise or guarantee by the grantor about the nature or quality of that interest or even if any interest exists at all. Simply put, the Quit Claim Deed just transfers title to the property from the grantor to the grantee without any representations or warranties on the part of the grantor. Quit Claim Deeds are often used for transfers between family members, gifts, estate planning, to remediate clouds on title or in other special or unusual circumstances. PRACTICAL TIP: In light of the fact that the quit claim deed does not give the grantee any guarantee that title to the property is valid and can be lawfully transferred by the grantor, never allow your buyer to accept a Quit Claim Deed from the seller (or title company) on a residential resale transaction. With any residential resale transaction title should be transferred by the Seller to the Buyer by Statutory Warranty Deed, or, in the case of a developer transaction, by Special Warranty Deed.