You’ve been searching for houses for months and finally found the one you like. After making your way through the home buying process, one of the final steps is ordering a title search and then having the seller execute the deed to the property at closing. This step legalizes the transfer of property ownership. Warranty deeds are most common in these transactions, but some home sellers might use a quitclaim deed. So what is a quitclaim deed? Before learning about quitclaim deeds, it’s important to know what a property deed is and what they do. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer in Chicago, IL, or you’re selling your home in San Francisco, CA, read on to learn about property deeds and when to use them
Real estate deeds and property deeds are physical, legal real estate documents used in real estate transactions. They legally transfer ownership (interest) of real property from the current property owner/seller (the grantor) to a new owner/purchaser (the grantee). Typically prepared by a mortgage company, title company, or real estate lawyer, a deed contains a written legal description of the property and its boundaries and identifies the grantor and grantee parties. A deed must be in writing, prepared properly, and executed by the grantor to be legal and submitted for public record. People use different types of deeds depending on the circumstances of the property transfer. When a grantee uses a title company to conduct their closing on a purchase of real property, the company runs a title report. This report ensures that the seller has a good title to the property. The company can then choose to insure the grantee’s title to the property. Insurance protects the grantee against certain claims or disputes that may arise relating to the ownership, physical, or financial interest in the property. An underwriter typically authorizes these insurance documents.
A deed transfers an ownership interest in a property. Deeds offer varying levels of protection for both the grantor and the grantee. Regardless of the type of deed, a grantee is most protected when they obtain title insurance. This is in case something later calls the grantor’s right to transfer the title into question. Adam Leitman Bailey of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., suggests being cautious when using a quitclaim deed. “Sellers may use quitclaim deeds instead of warranty deeds when they may not be familiar with the property, worry about a possible title defect, or think there isn’t clean ownership of the selling property. If a seller insists on using a quitclaim deed instead of a warranty deed, the buyer should purchase title insurance and remain wary of the transaction.”
A quitclaim deed, also sometimes known as a release or non-warranty deed, is a legal document used to transfer property ownership. Quitclaim deeds may be mistakenly called “quit claim” or “quick claim” deeds. A quitclaim deed conveys a grantor’s interest in transferring property without making promises or warranties, such as title ownership or financial obligation. This deed offers little protection to the grantee and is typically used when there is no or less than fair market consideration paid for the property interest. However, the deed’s effectiveness depends on the grantor’s title. If a grantor still owes a financial obligation on the property, grantees should talk to a lawyer about who would be responsible for paying it and if the property could be foreclosed on if the obligation goes unpaid. Likewise, quitclaim deeds only transfer property that the grantor owns. If a grantor does not own title to the property, the quitclaim deed conveys nothing.
Many states have different laws and customs which determine how and when to use quitclaim deeds. They are not used in some states because of specific underwriting and insurance requirements. In other states, insurance companies insure property titles derived from quitclaim deeds
You can use a quitclaim deed to add or remove parties on the title. You can also use it to change how the ownership is held. For example, people that own the property as Joint Tenants can use a quitclaim deed to change their status to Tenants by the Entirety or Tenants in Common. - Erin Minchella from Minchella and Associates A quitclaim deed is similar to any other deed. It provides a legal description of the property and the names of the grantor and grantee. The deed is a quick and easy form to complete. However, it makes no guarantees or promises as to the type of title the seller holds. - Prashant Bhatia, a lawyer with Prashant Law Firm
Warranty deeds are common in residential real property transactions. The types of commonly-used warranty deeds vary by state and are governed by state law. Other types of real estate deeds include a general warranty, special warranty, and covenant deeds. In addition, there are a variety of less common special-purpose deeds, which include:
Manuel Yllesca from Properties Miami recommends not using a quitclaim deed to purchase real property. “We’ve noticed an increasing number of buyers using quitclaim deeds to acquire real property ownership from homeowners quickly. We recommend using them only for family-related real estate transactions, such as adding, removing, or ceding full ownership interest in a property’s title. Don’t use a quitclaim deed to purchase the property.”
A quitclaim deed transfers the grantor’s ownership interest in the property, whatever it may be, from a grantor to a grantee without any promises or warranties. Notably, the deed makes no assurance that the grantor owns the property – it simply states that they release their rights if they do. Depending on the state where the property is located, a title company, real estate attorney, or another authorized party can prepare a quitclaim deed. A title company examines the title to determine whether the grantor has an insurable title to the property.