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The Legacy Title Blog 

  • Writer's pictureLegacy Title Team

Let’s Talk About Property Deeds

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

Publish Date: 08.25.2022

Author: Kristen Orr

Reviewed by: Ron Nelson

Today we are going to discuss something super fun: property deeds (so exciting, right?). Even though deeds are the most interesting topic of discussion, it is still important to understand what a deed is and the role it plays into a real estate transaction.

What is a deed?

A property deed is a written and signed legal document that is used to transfer ownership of the real property from the former owner to the new owner. Real property is land, or anything attached to the land, such as buildings or roads. For a deed to be legal, it must state the name of the buyer, or grantee, and the seller, or grantor. It also must describe the property that is being transferred and include the signature of the party that is transferring the property. [1] The buyer will be given the property deed when the title of the property is transferred.

Fun Fact: Historically, real property was transferred through a ceremonial act known as "livery of seisin." In this act, the person transferring the land handed a twig or clod of turf from the land to the person taking delivery of the land. [1] Often, a verbal or written statement would be accompanied the gesture, though it was the livery of seisin that legally initiated the transfer of ownership... Nowadays, we are less cool and simply use paper.

The essentials:

For a deed to be legally valid, there are several conditions that need to be met. Different states have different requirements, but most of the essential elements within a deed are:

  • Deeds 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 all of the requirements are met.

  • The seller must have the legal capacity to transfer the property and the buyer must be capable of receiving the grant of the property. A person who is competent to make a valid contract is considered competent to transfer property.

  • The buyer and seller 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 seller(s) if the property is owned by more than one person.

  • The deed must be legally delivered to the buyer or to someone acting on the buyer’s behalf.

  • The deed must be accepted by the seller. Typically, deeds are accepted by the seller but in certain circumstances, the seller could reject delivery of the deed. [1]

Types of deeds:

Deeds are usually either determined as official or private. Official deeds are performed in a court or some type of legal proceeding. Most home deeds are private and take place between individuals and businesses. [2]

Some of the common types of deeds that one would encounter are:

General Warranty Deeds

A general warranty deed offers the most protection for the buyer because it ensures that they have a clear right to the property. With this type of deed, the grantor ensures that there are no liens or easements against the property and that if there are, the grantee will be compensated accordingly. A general warranty deed differs from other deeds in its guarantee that there are no prior claims to the property.

Special Warranty Deeds

A special warranty deed guarantees a certain amount of protection for the buyer but not entirely. That’s because a special warranty deed only guarantees that there are no problems with the title while the seller owned it.

But the seller also doesn’t make any promises about the condition of the title before they owned the property. This type of deed is often used when a home has been foreclosed on.

Quitclaim Deeds

A quitclaim deed , also known as a "warranty deed", offers the buyer the least amount of protection, doesn’t make any promises regarding the title and offers no legal recourse if there is a problem.

Special Purpose Deeds

Special purpose deeds are often used when the deed is owned by someone in an official capacity. These are in a way like quitclaim deeds because they offer no real protection for the buyer.

Some of the different types of special purpose deeds are:

  • Executor’s deed: This type of deed is used when someone dies, and they have a will. The estate’s executor will disperse the assets and use this deed to transfer the property to the grantee.

  • Tax deed: A tax deed is used when a property is sold due to delinquent taxes.

  • Sheriff’s deed: This deed gives ownership rights to a buyer at a sheriff’s sale. This typically occurs when the home has been foreclosed upon. [2]

Now that you’ve finished our spiel on property deeds, we hope that you are able to better understand property deeds, the essential components of them, and differentiate the different types. Thank you for reading!

Stay tuned for our next blog post!


[1] Folger, Jean. December 31st, 2021. "Understanding Property Deeds". Accessed on August 12th, 2022. [2 ] Araj, Victoria. June 17th, 2022. "House (Property) Deeds: Everything You Need To Know". Accessed on August 12th, 2022.


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