Deeds are critical when exchanging property. In fact, if you are buying or selling property in Florida, then you need to know about deeds, and especially warranty deeds.
What’s in a Deed?
When you are purchasing or selling real estate, the deed to the property is the legal document that conveys title from one person to another. Without it, you do not have proof of legal ownership of the property.
Among other things, the deed contains the legal description of the property.
A deed conveys title (i.e., legal ownership rights) to the property. It does not create title, however. In other words, a deed does not create legal ownership rights— title does that—rather it conveys whatever title exists from one person to another.
The type of legal rights a person has in property determines what kind of title he/she holds to the property. Title can be held in the form of:
- Tenancy in common,
- Tenants by the entirety,
- Tenancy with rights of survivorship,
- Community property, or
- Sole ownership.
It is the deed which conveys title to the property. So, whatever rights the grantor has in the property he or she conveys to a grantee is transferred by the deed.
Deeds, Deeds, and More Deeds
Just as there are different forms of title, there are different types of deeds that convey title to real property.
The most common types of deeds are:
- General Warranty deeds,
- Special Warranty deeds, and
- Quitclaim deeds
As mentioned above, each type of deed conveys title to real property. More importantly, however, the different types of deeds convey different guarantees (or warranties) with regard to the seller’s title (legal ownership rights) to that property.
For example, a warranty deed provides the fullest warranty of title, whereas a quitclaim deed warrants nothing. Essentially, a quitclaim deed conveys “whatever title” the seller may have. If the seller has no title at all, then that is exactly what a quitclaim deed conveys.
Because the warranty deed provides the best protection for a purchaser, it is important to understand how warranty deeds work.
A warranty deed guarantees that the seller is selling, and the purchaser is buying, “full warranty of title” to the property.
Warranty deeds can be general or specific.
A warranty deed includes 6 “covenants” or warranties of title:
- Covenant of seisin,
- Covenant of the right to convey,
- Covenant against encumbrances,
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment,
- Covenant of general warranty, and
- Covenant of further assurances
Essentially, the warranty deed conveys title with the fullest guaranty of good title.
Warranty deeds (general warranty deeds) are by far the most common deeds used in Florida real estate transactions. This should come as no surprise since they offer the most protection for the purchaser.
In most real estate transactions, both the buyer and seller will purchase title insurance. The title insurance company will conduct a search of the public records and will produce a report detailing any title issues that may exist with the property. A title search ensures that the seller has valid title to the property. If it turns out that there is a problem with the seller’s chain of title, the purchaser may have recourse against the insurance or the seller to recover his/her damages.
Florida law requires, among other things, that warranty deeds be signed by the grantor (owner) and witnessed by two witnesses. It should be recorded in the county where the property is located.
If you are buying property in Florida and are looking to get a loan for the purchase, having a warranty deed can be of considerable value. It is also a good way to protect yourself against future issues with title to the property.
Understanding the various types of deeds available to convey property is important both for buying and selling real property and for conveying real property. Enlisting the help of a probate lawyer can save you time and money.
Florida Estate and Probate Attorneys
Helping individuals plan their estate and navigate the probate process is what the attorneys at the SJF Law Group do. We provide individualized estate plans and expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. Contact us here