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Questions about Warranty Deed

What is a general warranty deed?

A general warranty deed is a deed in which the seller or grantor vouches that he/she has clear title to a property or real estate and has the right to sell it to a buyer or grantee. This deed includes five main covenants or promises covering the following areas: seisin (legal title and possession), right to convey, no encumbrances, quiet enjoyment, and warranty. A sixth covenant of further assurances is also part of a general warranty deed but not recognized in all states.

What is a special warranty deed? What are the risks involved in order to get a clean title on a property?

The special warranty deed, also referred to as limited warranty deed, basically has two warranties. One is that the buyer gets the title to the property (quitclaim deed) and the property is not hampered or affected with any defects during the time the seller or grantor has had ownership. Any defect or omission that has occurred prior to the current seller’s possession is excluded. This means there is no guarantee that defects in title caused by previous owners are absent or will be corrected if present.

The main risk may be that there was a lien or concern on the title before the current grantor’s possession. Consequently this will become a problem that a grantee will have to deal with. In order to avoid this, obtaining title insurance could be useful. To ensure your title is clear, it would be sensible to have an attorney verify it.

If a property was purchased prior to marriage, whose name appears as grantee? Can a spouse be included in title ownership? Where can you obtain a copy of the deed?

After marriage assets can be held jointly but prior to marriage one can have separate property/estates. If a person has bought a property prior to marriage and it was bought in that person’s name, he/she will be listed as the sole owner on the warranty deed. The owner’s name will appear as the grantee and he/she will be solely holding the title of ownership.

The spouse’s name is not automatically included in the title but they can be included and listed as co-grantee for joint ownership. If you wish to do so the owner can fill a quitclaim deed and transfer half the interest of the property to his/her spouse.

The copy of the deed would be available with the county recording office where the property has been registered.

How do you file a warranty deed, who needs to do it, and is there any acknowledgement in doing so?

A warranty deed can be filed with the county office in the county where the property is situated. The county office will assign a volume and page numbers, then stamp the original and retain it. A certified copy of this is returned to the owner for his/her records. Recording is done for a nominal fee. The document then becomes a permanent record. One can also request additional copies if required. The buyer of the property needs to file the warranty deed. On doing so, a receipt or acknowledgement will be provided by the county office.

A warranty deed was issued and filed before the mortgage of a property was paid off. Is the grantor/seller still responsible for the mortgage if the property was conveyed to a non-profit organization?

The borrower or grantor is not released from the mortgage obligation just by mere transfer of the property. The lender’s consent is required to discharge the borrower (grantor in this case) and permit the grantee to take up the loan. In some cases, the grantor and grantee may have an agreement between themselves however the grantor will remain personally responsible for the mortgage.

In the state of California, is a warranty deed valid if duly signed and delivered but not recorded?

A warranty deed would be valid and effective if it is duly signed, dated, witnessed, notarized, and delivered. Recording the deed is not mandatory. For example, if a person signs a warranty deed today, locks it in his safe and instructs his lawyer or executor to record it at a later date, it is still valid as dated. A deed is usually recorded as a way to inform others of the transfer and to protect the recipient of the deed from any future interests. It is still a choice of the concerned party. Most states would recognize a valid deed that was transferred but not necessarily recorded. This is applicable in California as well.

A warranty deed mainly deals with title transfer within a framework of implied covenants. Usually people rely on professional help in order to check or search on the title to ensure that everything is clear or to ascertain if there are any issues to be addressed. Once this is done, it would be sensible to finalize purchase of real estate. There is also an option of title insurance, which safeguards the holder from any losses in case there are title problems. However it may be better to seek professional insight and guidance before taking any irreversible action.
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