What is a Deed?

A deed is the document that transfers ownership of real estate. It is the document that transfers title of real property or of real property interest from one party (grantor) to another (grantee).  It also provides a legal description of the property, and is signed by the person (grantor) transferring the property.  The seller’s signature (grantor) must be notarized.

A deed is the document that transfers ownership of real estate and provides a legal description of the property.

There are two types of deeds commonly used in real estate transactions.

  • Warranty Deed
  • Quitclaim Deed

Warranty Deed or Grant Deed

The most common form of these deeds is the warranty deed (also called a “grant deed”).  A warranty deed transfers ownership and also explicitly promises (aka warrants) that the grantor/seller holds good title to the property.

Quitclaim Deed

The other common form of deed is called the quitclaim deed.  A quitclaim deed transfers any ownership interest the grantor/seller has in the property, but makes no promises or guarantees about what that interest is or that title is good.

Put another way, a warranty deed says “I promise that I own the property I am giving you and the title to it is good,” while a quitclaim deed says “I’m giving you whatever interest I have in this property, but I’m not making any promises about it.  My title might not be good and I might not even own the property but whatever I have is now yours.”

Quitclaim deeds are most commonly used to clear up title problems, to transfer property between spouses after a divorce, or in informal transactions between friends or family members.