Contact us whenever you need it!

+1 855 997 0206

Contact hours: Mon-Fri 8am - 10pm ET

LEGAL DICTIONARY

Deed

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal contract that transfers property ownership from one party to another. A deed must be written, signed, notarized, and entered into the public record in order for it to be valid in court.

A deed is not a title to a property. Rather, it is a written tool used for transferring a title. There are several different types of deeds, including grant deeds, warranty deeds, and quitclaim deeds.

What are the different types of deeds?

Deeds are categorized based on the type of title warranties the grantor (seller) provides to the grantee (buyer). The three primary types of deeds are the general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and quitclaim deed.

General Warranty Deed

A general warranty deed provides the grantee with the highest level of protection. With a general warranty deed, the grantor warrants that the property is free and clear of title defects from the time the property first came into existence until now.

With this type of deed, the grantor pledges to defend the title against any allegations of defect —even defects that were allegedly present before the seller purchased the property.

Covenants of a general warranty deed

In a general warranty deed, the grantor makes a series of promises (covenants) and warranties to the grantee and the grantee's heirs. The typical covenants of a general warranty deed include:

  • The covenant of seisin - the grantor guarantees that they own the property and have the legal right to transfer it to another party.
  • The covenant against encumbrances - the grantor guaranteed that the property is free of liens or other legal encumbrances, except those stated in the deed.
  • The covenant of quiet enjoyment - the grantor guarantees that the grantee will have possession of the property and will not be disturbed by a defective title.
  • The covenant of further assurance - the grantor promises to deliver any documents needed to make the title good.

Special Warranty Deed

A special warranty deed offers less protection than the general warranty deed.

With a special warranty deed, the grantor warrants only that they have not created a defect in the property's title during their time of ownership. The grantor certifies that they will defend the title against allegations of defects caused during the time they owned the property.

Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is often used in the transfer of property between family members and between spouses in divorce situations. These deeds (often called a non-warranty deed) offer the least protection of the three main deed categories.

This deed releases an owner's interest in an asset without stating the nature of their interest or rights. In other words, if the title to the property has a defect, the grantee does not have any form of legal recourse against the grantor under a quitclaim deed.


Start a Quitclaim Deed Now

Here are some other types of deeds and terms you should know:

  • Deed of trust - A deed of trust is a written agreement between a buyer and a mortgage lender at the closing of a property. This document states that the buyer will pay back the loan and that the lender will hold the property title until the loan is paid in full. Some states use deeds of trust as a type of secured real estate transaction instead of mortgages.
  • Property deed - A property deed transfers ownership of real property from a grantor to a grantee. Real property refers to land or anything attached to the land, such as roads and buildings. A property deed includes an adequate description of the property as well as the identification of both grantor and grantee.
  • Warranty deed - A warranty deed conveys to the buyer that the property does not have any debt and that the seller has the right to sell the property. A warranty deed requires the seller to compensate the buyer if there are any problems or debts not listed in this document.
  • Deed restriction - A deed restriction places limits on what you do or build on your property. Buyers might see deed restrictions when the property they are buying is part of a homeowners' association or is in a deed-restricted community.
  • Tax deed - A tax deed is a legal document that grants ownership of a property to a government agency when the owner does not pay property taxes. This type of deed gives the government agency the legal right to sell the property to collect the unpaid taxes.

In cases when the ownership of a property is challenged —including in the case of a family quarrel or even squatters— a signed deed establishes actual ownership. When the property's legal disputes a squatter's claim before the statutory occupation period ends, they can win in court.

Helpful Resources:

SmartAsset - What Is a House Deed?

Nolo - What's the Difference Between a Mortgage and Deed of Trust?

Homelight - House Deed vs Title: How to Keep Their Meanings Straight

Realtor.com - Deed vs. Title

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal contract that transfers property ownership from one party to another. A deed must be written, signed, notarized, and entered into the public record in order for it to be valid in court.

A deed is not a title to a property. Rather, it is a written tool used for transferring a title. There are several different types of deeds, including grant deeds, warranty deeds, and quitclaim deeds.

What are the different types of deeds?

Deeds are categorized based on the type of title warranties the grantor (seller) provides to the grantee (buyer). The three primary types of deeds are the general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and quitclaim deed.

General Warranty Deed

A general warranty deed provides the grantee with the highest level of protection. With a general warranty deed, the grantor warrants that the property is free and clear of title defects from the time the property first came into existence until now.

With this type of deed, the grantor pledges to defend the title against any allegations of defect —even defects that were allegedly present before the seller purchased the property.

Covenants of a general warranty deed

In a general warranty deed, the grantor makes a series of promises (covenants) and warranties to the grantee and the grantee's heirs. The typical covenants of a general warranty deed include:

  • The covenant of seisin - the grantor guarantees that they own the property and have the legal right to transfer it to another party.
  • The covenant against encumbrances - the grantor guaranteed that the property is free of liens or other legal encumbrances, except those stated in the deed.
  • The covenant of quiet enjoyment - the grantor guarantees that the grantee will have possession of the property and will not be disturbed by a defective title.
  • The covenant of further assurance - the grantor promises to deliver any documents needed to make the title good.

Special Warranty Deed

A special warranty deed offers less protection than the general warranty deed.

With a special warranty deed, the grantor warrants only that they have not created a defect in the property's title during their time of ownership. The grantor certifies that they will defend the title against allegations of defects caused during the time they owned the property.

Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is often used in the transfer of property between family members and between spouses in divorce situations. These deeds (often called a non-warranty deed) offer the least protection of the three main deed categories.

This deed releases an owner's interest in an asset without stating the nature of their interest or rights. In other words, if the title to the property has a defect, the grantee does not have any form of legal recourse against the grantor under a quitclaim deed.


Start a Quitclaim Deed Now

Here are some other types of deeds and terms you should know:

  • Deed of trust - A deed of trust is a written agreement between a buyer and a mortgage lender at the closing of a property. This document states that the buyer will pay back the loan and that the lender will hold the property title until the loan is paid in full. Some states use deeds of trust as a type of secured real estate transaction instead of mortgages.
  • Property deed - A property deed transfers ownership of real property from a grantor to a grantee. Real property refers to land or anything attached to the land, such as roads and buildings. A property deed includes an adequate description of the property as well as the identification of both grantor and grantee.
  • Warranty deed - A warranty deed conveys to the buyer that the property does not have any debt and that the seller has the right to sell the property. A warranty deed requires the seller to compensate the buyer if there are any problems or debts not listed in this document.
  • Deed restriction - A deed restriction places limits on what you do or build on your property. Buyers might see deed restrictions when the property they are buying is part of a homeowners' association or is in a deed-restricted community.
  • Tax deed - A tax deed is a legal document that grants ownership of a property to a government agency when the owner does not pay property taxes. This type of deed gives the government agency the legal right to sell the property to collect the unpaid taxes.

In cases when the ownership of a property is challenged —including in the case of a family quarrel or even squatters— a signed deed establishes actual ownership. When the property's legal disputes a squatter's claim before the statutory occupation period ends, they can win in court.

Helpful Resources:

SmartAsset - What Is a House Deed?

Nolo - What's the Difference Between a Mortgage and Deed of Trust?

Homelight - House Deed vs Title: How to Keep Their Meanings Straight

Realtor.com - Deed vs. Title