A general warranty deed is a deed used to legally transfer real property from one person to another. This type of deed offers the most protection for the buyer.
Understanding General Warranty Deeds
A general warranty deed transfers real property from the buyer to the seller with the guarantee that the seller holds clear, unencumbered legal title to the property. This means that the seller promises there are no liens or creditors' claims against the property and that, if there are, the seller will compensate the buyer for those claims.
A general warranty deed must include the following to be valid:
- The name and address of the seller (called the grantor)
- The name and address of the buyer (called the grantee)
- A legal description of the property (found on the previous deed)
- A statement that the grantor is transferring the property to the grantee
- A statement that the grantor is the legal owner of the property and has the right to transfer it
- A statement that there are no legal claims against the property by creditors
- A guarantee by the grantor that if claims do emerge, they will compensate the buyer
A general warranty deed is not a contract of sale—it does not include a price for the property or include any transfer of funds. Instead, it is the legal document that completes the sale by transferring the property from the grantor to the grantee.
General Warranty Deeds vs. Other Deeds
A general warranty deed is unique because it guarantees that there are no outstanding claims against the property and it includes a promise to compensate the grantee if any emerge. This is very different from other types of deeds:
- Quitclaim deed. A quitclaim deed transfers only the ownership rights the grantor has in the property and provides no promises that the property is free of claims against it.
- Special warranty deed. In a special warranty deed, the grantor only promises that no claims have made been against the property during the period of their ownership, and makes no guarantee about any time period before that. This is also sometimes called a limited warranty deed.
Using a General Warranty Deed
To transfer property using a general warranty deed, it is important to first obtain the form that is used in the state where the property is located. Each state has its own forms with their own specific language. You may be able to obtain the form by searching your state's statutes or state website. You also can use an online services provider, if you want assistance in creating a general warranty deed.
Once you obtain the correct form, you must fill it in completely. Both the grantor and the grantee must sign it, usually in the presence of a notary. Then the deed must be filed in the county registrar's office to be legally enforceable. Once filed, the legal transfer of the property is complete.
A general warranty deed is the best option for buyers of real property, since it provides the most encompassing guarantee that the property is free of liens or claims. Largely for this reason, general warranty deeds are the most commonly used type of deed in real estate sales.