When to Use

  • You are selling or transferring real estate and providing the standard title warranties.
  • You need a deed tailored for your state.
  • The parties—called the grantor and grantee—are either individuals, businesses, or trustees.

What Is a General Warranty Deed?

A general warranty deed is the go-to deed to use for selling a property because it includes standard promises that buyers expect. Basically, the deed provides guarantees to the new owner that the grantor has a valid legal title to the property and that the title is free and clear of any liens or other defects (unless explicitly listed in the deed).

Use a quit claim deed to quickly sell or transfer property without warranties. This deed is commonly used to add new owners to the title, transfer property to family, or remove a “cloud” on the title.

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Help Guide

A general warranty deed is used to quickly and easily transfer property title to a new owner. Unlike quit claim deeds, which provide no title warranties, a general warranty deed promises the new owner that the title is being legally transferred. Read this guide for an overview of the main considerations you will face when completing your general warranty deed.

Number of Grantors and Grantees

The party that currently owns the property is called the “grantor” in your deed, while the party receiving ownership is called the “grantee.” Grantors and grantees can be either individuals or businesses. If your property transaction involves joint ownership, you can add as many grantors and grantees as needed. Also, note that it is possible that the same party can be named as both grantor and grantee. This happens whenever a grantor continues to own a partial or whole ownership interest after the property transaction. For example, this would occur if a mother wants to deed a partial ownership interest to her child.

Grantor and Grantee Types

Indicate whether each grantor and grantee is an unmarried individual, married individual, business, or trust. When property is being deeded to a trust, the trustee will be named as the grantee, who will hold the property on behalf of the trust. When the property is being deeded to a business, you should list the business as the grantee and include the name of the person who will sign on behalf of the business as its agent. Make sure that the agent is someone authorized to sign contracts for the business.

Grantee Ownership

Next, you will be asked whether the grantee is a sole owner or co-owner. Select “Sole owner” only if the grantee will not share ownership with anyone else. Select “Co-owner” if multiple grantees will share ownership. For instance, co-ownership would exist when two spouses share ownership after the transfer.

Grantee's Property Interest

If the grantee will be sharing the title as a co-owner, then you will need to select the type of co-ownership that you want to apply. Depending upon the state where the property is located, this could be either a tenancy in common, a joint tenancy, a tenancy by the entirety or community property interest, or a partnership interest.

Under a tenancy in common, each owner holds an undivided interest in the entire property, instead of owning a specific portion. An owner may transfer their interest without needing to have the other owners sign the deed. Upon the death of an owner, that owner’s share will pass to the beneficiary named in their will or pursuant to state intestacy laws if there is no will. When businesses own property as co-owners, a tenancy in common is a popular choice due to the flexibility and simplicity involved with this form of property ownership.

A joint tenancy is similar to a tenancy in common; however, all owners share equal interests. For example, if there are four owners, then each owner holds a quarter interest in the land. Also, joint tenants may not sell their interests without obtaining the signatures of the other owners on the deed. Finally, each owner has a “right of survivorship.” This means that when one owner dies, their interest automatically transfers to the other owners. So in our example, the three remaining owners would each hold a one-third interest in the property after one of them dies.

A tenancy by the entirety and a community property interest are essentially the same, only differing in name. They work the same way as joint tenancies but are only available for married couples who wish to hold property as co-owners.

Lastly, California allows businesses to share ownership as a partnership. This is similar to a tenancy in common but may offer additional advantages depending on the business’ needs. Note that businesses are still free to choose another form of co-ownership.

Final Steps

Have each grantor sign where indicated. If a grantor is married and transferring part or all of the marital homestead, then the grantor’s spouse must sign in order to waive any claim of interest in the property. Note that grantees normally do not need to sign. However, a few counties in the United States may require this, particularly in Kentucky.

You will need to record your completed deed with your local land records office. Depending on your location, this office could be called the County Recorder’s Office, County Clerk’s Office, or something else. Because each county has its own filing rules, we highly recommend calling your office prior to filing in order to ensure that everything is in order.

Do not write in the margins of your deed. Most counties require a three-inch top margin on the first page and one-inch margins for the remainder of the document. Your office should inform you if you need to vary these sizes. Refrain from stapling the pages of your deed together. Also, ensure that all signatures on the deed are originals. Do not use copies or stamps. After the deed is filed, the land records office will provide a copy of the executed deed to the grantee or the return party listed on the deed. Many counties also make copies of the deed available online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a general warranty deed?

A general warranty deed is a type of property deed used to transfer ownership of real estate to one or more new owners. Unlike a quit claim deed, which makes no title warranties, a general warranty deed guarantees that the seller is the rightful owner of the property and is selling it free of any liens or defects (unless explicitly stated in the deed).

What is an encumbrance on real estate?

A real estate encumbrance is a claim against real estate that diminishes its value. Examples include liens, encroachments, easements, and deed restrictions>.

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal document used to evidence the transfer of real estate from one individual to another. The person who is conveying the property is known as the grantor, whereas the person receiving the property is called the grantee.

In general, there are three types of deeds:

  • Quit claim deed – passes property title, but does not guarantee that the title is clear
  • Warranty deed – passes property title, while guaranteeing the title is clear
  • Grant deed – passes title and guarantees that the grantor has not passed the title to anyone else

What is a lien?

A lien is a type of security interest in real estate that gives the lien holder a right to repayment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. It is considered a "nonpossessory" interest in real estate in that the lien holder does not physically possess the property.

A common example of a lien is a real estate mortgage. Here, the borrower pledges the property as collateral for securing repayment of the mortgage loan to the lender.

What is a grantor and grantee?

In the context of a real estate transaction, the grantor is the party that is selling or otherwise transferring legal title to the property to the new owner, called the grantee.

What is community property?

Community property is a form of joint property ownership wherein all property and income acquired by one or both spouses during marriage is considered jointly owned and equally shared. Both spouses also share most debts acquired by either of them during marriage.

Property that is acquired before marriage or during legal separation is not considered community property. Likewise, an asset is not community property if it was given to only one of the spouses as a gift or through inheritance. Finally, an asset will also be considered separate property if it is acquired in only one spouse's name and is never used to benefit the other spouse.

Community property also gives each spouse the right of survivorship, meaning that when one spouse dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other spouse without having to go through probate court.

Acquiring community property is only allowed in the following nine US states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Alaska, spouses may opt-in to the community property system if they follow certain rules.

What is tenancy by the entirety?

A tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint property ownership acquired by one or both spouses during marriage. Each spouse receives the right of survivorship, meaning that when one spouse dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other spouse without having to go through probate court. The interest must not be given to only one of the spouses as a gift, through inheritance, or as separate property.

What is joint tenancy?

A joint tenancy is a type of joint property ownership wherein all owners own equal interests. Also, each joint tenant has a right of survivorship, meaning that when one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenants will receive the deceased tenant’s interest in the property in proportional amounts. To be joint tenants, all owners must be named as grantees in the same property deed.

What is tenancy in common?

A tenancy in common is a type of joint property ownership wherein all owners own an undivided interest in the whole property; however, these interests do not have to be in equal shares. Also, the tenants in common do not have rights of survivorship. This means that when one dies, that person's share in the property goes to his or her named heirs or beneficiaries.

What is the difference between sole ownership and co-ownership?

Sole ownership is when a piece of real estate is owned by only one legal owner, while co-ownership—also called joint ownership—is when property is owned by two or more legal owners. Types of joint ownership include joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, and community property.

Keep in mind that different types of entities may own property, including individuals, businesses, and property placed into trusts.

What is a deed restriction?

A deed restriction is a covenant or condition that creates specific limitations on how the owner may use the property. Deed restrictions are usually imposed by the property's previous owner, developer, or homeowners' association. Common examples include architectural styles, restrictions on the materials and colors of structures built on the land, and whether or not businesses may operate on the land.

What is an easement?

An easement is a type of property right wherein the holder of the easement has the right to occupy, cross, or use another person's land for a specific purpose. For example, a property owner might grant an easement to a neighbor giving them the right to build and use a road across a specific portion of the owner’s land. Easements are considered encumbrances on property titles, and they must be disclosed when transferring property.

Ready To Get Started? Create a General Warranty Deed

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Checklist

Step 1: Gather Information

Collect basic information about the parties and transaction, including the parties’ names and addresses, the property’s legal description, the sale price (if any), and any other relevant terms.

Step 2: Answer Key Questions

Next, complete our general warranty deed questionnaire. This process is made easy with step-by-step guidance and helpful tips.

Step 3: Review and Sign

Thoroughly read your deed to ensure that it is free of errors and will meet your needs. You may make textual edits to the deed by downloading it from your LegalNature account dashboard in .docx format and opening it in Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

Have each grantor sign where indicated. A few counties may also require the grantees to sign, especially in Kentucky. Ask your local office if you think this may apply to you. Be sure to wait to sign the document until you are in the presence of a notary, who will witness the signing. Often, this is done with an escrow agent.

Step 4: File the Deed in the County Public Records

Filing with your local land records office will serve to protect the new owner’s interest from adverse claims. This office is normally called the County Clerk’s Office, County Recorder’s Office, Land Registry Office, or Register of Deeds. You will likely need to pay a small fee for each page of the deed being filed.

Ready To Get Started? Create a General Warranty Deed