Ownership has to be transferred when buying or selling property, mainly because it is not feasible to physically transfer real estate. Ownership is claimed through documents known as deeds. There are different types of ownership and, consequently, different types of deeds. Different deeds offer different warranties to the property title. A general warranty deed, also referred to as a warranty deed, is one of the deeds used to transfer property ownership from a grantor to a grantee.
A warranty deed form is more buyer-oriented. It stipulates that the seller guarantees that the title is clear of any defects from the property’s entire history, even before the seller owned the property. The deed will typically offer the buyer insurance by granting them ownership before the final sale. The grantor is the individual selling or transferring title to the grantee. Grantors and grantees can be non-married individuals, married individuals, trustees, or a business. The term “general” refers to the guarantees offered by the deed, and it distinguishes the general warranty deed from other ownership transfer deeds such as special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds.
A warranty deed is defined as a legal document used to transfer property while offering guarantees that the title has no defects whatsoever. Should they arise, the seller (grantor) shall fix these issues. The deed identifies the seller as the last known owner and lists all the previous owners by names and associated purchase prices, mortgages (if applicable), and sales dates. The warranty deed must use proper legal language to ensure the grantee is fully covered and the document meets the legal threshold of enforceability under state laws.
A warranty deed is alternatively referred to as:
- Full covenant and warranty deeds
- General warranty deed
Uses of General Warranty Deed Form
Primarily, a warranty deed is a document used to transfer property from one party to another – grantor to the grantee. There must be physical evidence, therefore a warranty deed is used as proof of a legal transfer of ownership.
The deed outlines several assurances to the buyer in writing. Firstly, it declares that the seller is the rightful owner and has the legal authority to sell the property. It also discloses that the property has not been transferred or sold to another party and hence has no liens. The general warranty deed also declares that if the property has multiple owners, then the seller should state their exact interest or claim in the property that they intend to transfer to the buyer.
The deed also assures the buyer that the seller shall assume legal and financial obligations should any claims be made by unknown parties against the property in terms of any debt, loss of property, or if other unspecified encumbrances arise. Lastly, a general warranty deed form is used as a guarantee that the property being sold is the exact property whose legal description has been outlined in the title deed.
A warranty deed is used to offer the buyer guarantees against any liens and defects in the title – past, present, and future. This is specifically a good incentive to buyers and can help sellers sell property faster than in cases where the seller offers limited guarantees. Consequently, the seller can bargain for a higher price when using a general warranty deed form.
Fraud is a huge concern for buyers in the real estate sector. A warranty deed form is used to prevent such cases by offering the buyers guarantee that the sellers are legally allowed to sell the property and correct any issues with the title.
A warranty deed form is used to convey all the relevant details of a property ownership transfer, such as legal property description, price, guarantees, terms of sale, and its other characteristics involved. Therefore, it is an essential communication tool between the grantor and grantee.
How Does a General Warranty Deed Work?
A general warranty deed is a way of assuring the buyer of all guarantees the seller is offering in a real estate transaction. How does a warranty deed offer guarantees? A general warranty deed form protects the grantee through six key covenants. The covenants can be categorized into present covenants and future covenants.
Present covenants include:
- Covenant of seisin stipulates that the deed used describes the property being transferred, and the grantor has a legal interest or rightly owns the described property.
- Covenant against encumbrances promises the grantee that the title to the property does not have any hidden or undisclosed liens, such as mortgages, easements, or interests that would impact the property or lower its value.
- Covenant of right to convey guarantees the grantee that the specific grantor has the legal authority to transfer the property.
Future covenants include:
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment promises the grantee that they will utilize and enjoy the property without any disturbances from third parties who claim to have superior title to the described property after the transfer.
- Covenant of warranty promises the grantee of legal and financial protection should any claims be made against the title by someone claiming a superior title.
- Covenant of further assurances guarantees that the grantor will fix any issues with the title once the transfer is completed.
Types of Deeds
Other than a general warranty deed, grantors can use other deeds such as quitclaims and special warranty deeds to transfer property. Quitclaims and special warranty deeds are used when the buyer wants to protect themselves from certain legal and financial obligations tied to the property and its title after the sale.
Other types of deeds include:
A quitclaim deed, occasionally referred to as a non-warranty deed, is used to transfer property while offering no guarantees as to whether the grantor is legally allowed to sell a property or even have any ownership of the title. A quitclaim transfers the grantor’s interest without specifying the type of interest. Automatically, the grantee assumes legal and financial obligations of any defects to the property and title.
Special warranty deed
A special warranty deed form or limited warranty deed, in other terms, is a document used to transfer ownership of the property to a grantee while offering warranties against certain specified defects or issues. The deed is meant to cover the period when the grantor owned the property and not the time period after the sale.
General warranty deed VS. Special warranty deed
Unlike a general warranty deed form, a special warranty deed offers lesser protection to the grantee. The buyer is not protected entirely from some issues that are not specified in the special warranty deed, and therefore the grantor cannot be held accountable for these additional issues.
A special warranty deed form covers the covenants and issues tied to the title and property for the specific period when the grantor owned the property. Therefore, it cannot guarantee that the owners before did not leave any liens or interest in the property when they sold it, unlike a general warranty deed that covers its entire history.
General warranty deed and warranty of title
A warranty of title is a promise that the title to a property has no issues whatsoever. Grantors use a warranty of title to assure grantees that the title is error-free and thus gives the grantee the right to sue and seek compensation if any title issues arise later on. Examples of title issues are unknown liens, errors in public records, omission of information in the deed, undisclosed interests, missing heirs, forged deeds, and un-probated wills. A general warranty deed form offers the grantee a guarantee that the title has no issues through a full warranty of title. A full warranty of title covers all the six covenants of a general warranty deed.
Crafting a General Warranty Deed
Warranty deed forms have to use legal syntax to be legally enforceable. Different States have laws to govern what is legally enforceable, typically based on common law and real estate practice in that State.
Regardless of the difference in how a general warranty deed form is created from State to State, below are the basics of a standard warranty deed:
Firstly, the document should identify the grantor in the specific transaction. This section should include information such as the name of the person or corporation, physical address, and contact information. The name should be exactly as it appears on the title deed and public records. Discrepancies in the name might result in legal invalidation of the deed.
Discuss future recipients
Afterward, indicate to whom the property is being transferred. The document should capture their name and address. If a property is going to be under the ownership of multiple owners, otherwise known as joint tenants, they should all be listed.
Add the requested information
The following section should cover all the specific details of the transaction that need to appear on the warranty deed form. This includes information such as words of conveyance and proof of consideration (amount paid for the property), if applicable.
The basic components that ought to be addressed are as follows:
- Identification details such as names and mailing addresses of the parties involved in the property transfer should be given.
- The jurisdiction of the warranty deed : this requires an indication of the State where the property being sold is located.
- A declaration of the amount received by the seller in exchange for ownership (in words and figures).
- Conclusive declarations identifying the status or capacities of the parties involved – that is, it must indicate who is the grantor (seller) and the grantee (buyer).
- A detailed legal description of the property being transferred.
The legal description of the property
Next, provide a precise legal description of the property. This information is located in the property deed and indicates the physical address (location), parcel number, property lines, sewer lines, roads, and other defining details.
The last section should provide the grantor’s signature. By signing the document, the grantors give away their title to the property and acknowledge that they will be liable to any terms outlined in the warranty deed form. The grantor should sign and indicate their name next to the signature.
The warranty deed should be witnessed and signed by the notary public. The witness names and signatures should appear first, followed by a notary public acknowledgement.
Where to Record
A completed warranty deed form must be a public record. Therefore, it must be filed with the Registry of Deeds, County Recorder’s Office, or any other applicable State or County office. The land records offices can be found in the local courthouse.
Below are examples of different land records offices per state:
General Warranty Deed Form
A general warranty deed form uses specific language to cover all the legalities surrounding property ownership transactions. Therefore, it is advisable to use pre-designed forms rather than creating one from scratch and completing them accordingly. Such professionally prepared warranty deed forms can be found here for free to simplify the process of making or using warranty deeds when buying or selling property.
Templates by states
Warranty Deed Laws
Warranty deeds must be prepared and executed under applicable State warranty deed laws. Deeds that do not conform to these laws are difficult to implement or present in a court of law in case of any disputes. It is, therefore, necessary to review the following warranty deed laws before buying or selling property using a general warranty deed. The laws are given according to their respective States.
|AL (§ 35-4-271)||MT (§ 70-20-103)|
|AK ( AS 34.15.030)||NE (§ 76-206)|
|AZ (§ 33-402)||NV (NRS 111.312)|
|AR(§ 18-12-102)||NH (§ 477:27)|
|CA (§ 1092)||NJ (Section 46:4-7)|
|CO (§ 38-30-113)||NM ((§ 47-1-29 & § 47-1-44))|
|CT (Sections 47-36c & 47-36d)||NY (NY Real Prop L § 258)|
|DE (§ 121)||NC (§ 47H-6)|
|FL (§ 689.02)||ND (§ 47-10-13)|
|GA (§ 44-5-62)||OH (§ 5302.05)|
|HI (Chapter 13-16)||OK (§ 16-40)|
|ID (§ 55-612)||OR (ORS 93.850)|
|IL (765 ILCS 5/9)||PA (21 P.S. § 5)|
|IN (§ 32-17-1-2)||RI (§ 34-11-12)|
|IA (§ 558.19(3))||SC (§ 27-7-10)|
|KS (§ 58-2203)||SD (§ 43-25-5)|
|KY (KRS 382.030)||TN (§ 66-5-103)|
|LA (CC 2475)||TX (§ 66-5-103)|
|ME (Title 33, § 763)||UT (§ 57-1-12)|
|MD (§ 2-105)||VT (§ 301)|
|MA (Chapter 183, Section 10)||VA (§ 55-68)|
|MI (§ 565.151)||WA (RCW 64.04.030)|
|MN (§ 507.07)||WV (§ 36-4-2)|
|MS (§ 89-1-33)||WI (§ 706.10(5))|
|MO (§ 442.430)||WY (§ 34-2-102)|
A general warranty deed form is a good way for buyers to ensure they are protected from any issues with the title to the property they are buying. The deed acts as insurance that the seller or grantor shall be liable in case of any title issues. General warranty deed forms are State-specific, and a warranty may be legally enforceable in one State and not the other.
The warranty has to be signed and filed with public records for the transfer of ownership to be fully completed.Other deeds that can be used to transfer property are quitclaims and limited warranty deeds. These deeds differ in the level of protection they offer to the grantee. A quitclaim is the least protective deed for the buyers, while a limited or special warranty deed creates room for negotiating what covenants and issues will be guaranteed by the grantor.
The essential elements of a standard warranty deed form are grantor and grantee’s details, consideration, legal property description, statement of conveyance, grantor’s signature, witnesses, and a notary public acknowledgement. The specifics can differ from one deed to the other.