General Warranty Deeds – An Overview
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General Warranty Deeds
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Before we jump right into general warranty deeds it’s important to understand the definition of a deed. A deed is a document that transfers legal title from a person (or entity) to another person (or entity). It is very important to understand the difference between a deed and legal title. A deed is the actual paper on which all the terms and conditions are written that transfer legal title. Legal title can simply be defined as a term that constitutes who owns the property. In other words, legal title is a concept and not a tangible object like the piece of paper with a deed. Ok, now that we’ve briefly discussed the differences between a deed and legal title let’s take a closer look at 1 of the 3 main types of deeds – the general warranty deed.

General warranty deeds are deeds whereby the seller guarantees that he or she has clear title to the real property in question, and that he or she has the right to sell that property to another person. When a person guarantees that he or she has clear title to a piece of property, that person is guaranteeing that the title to the property is free and clear of any encumbrances, such as mortgages or liens (i.e. things that "cloud" legal title and make it more difficult to transfer). Furthermore, when a seller chooses to covey his or her property via a general warranty deed, the seller is guaranteeing clear title that dates back to the origin of the property (or for a certain statutory period of time like 60 years), so it extends to the acts of all of his or her predecessors.

So, how do general warranty deeds compare to special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds? Well, both special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds provide less protection to buyers of real property than general warranty deeds. Special warranty deeds only provide assurances as to the current seller of the property, not to any of the property’s previous owners. Special warranty deeds only assure a buyer of property that the property is free from any encumbrances made by the current seller, and that the seller has not conveyed an interest in the property to any other individual other than that specific buyer.

Quitclaim deeds provide even less protection to buyers than special warranty deeds. A quitclaim deed is a deed whereby the seller coveys the interest that he may or may not have in the real property. With a quitclaim deed, there is no assurance that the grantor actually has any particular title or interest in that specific property! For these reasons, it is best to purchase property that is conveyed via a general warranty deed.

Next, we’ll look at the present covenants for title in general warranty deeds.

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