What's the Difference Between Quitclaim and Warranty Deeds?

Posted by CourthouseDirect.com Team - 14 February, 2018


quitclaim deeds and warranty deedsKnowing about deeds is your right and responsibility as a property owner. A deed can completely change the ownership of a piece of land. It can pass property from your hands to those of a new buyer, or from your parents to you. There are many types of property deeds, but two create more buzz than others because of confusion between them: quitclaim and warranty deeds.

Here’s how to tell these two deeds apart, and how to know which to use in the transference of your piece of property.

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Defining Quitclaim Deed and Warranty Deeds

Before you can learn the similarities and differences between quitclaim and warranty deeds, you must understand the definitions of both. Although they both have the power to convey a piece of property from one person to another, they are not the same type of deed – nor do they instill the same protections to parties involved. Here are their definitions, according to Legal Dictionary:

  • Quitclaim deed: an instrument of real property conveyance that passes any title, interest, or claim the grantor has in the property to another party. A quitclaim deed does not make any representations or guarantees as to the validity of such title, interest, or claim.
  • Warranty deed: an instrument of real property conveyances that transfers the title of property from the grantor to another party. In a warranty deed, the grantor promises that the title is clear of any claims.

As you can see, the two deeds perform the same essential function: to transfer a title from one party to another. The provisions of each deed, however, are starkly different. One type of deed exposes the grantee to potential title ownership or claim conflicts while the other provides the greatest level of protection possible to grantees.

Similarities Between Quitclaim and Warranty Deeds

Despite having major differences, there are indisputable similarities between quitclaim and warranty deeds. They both deal with the conveyance of real property. Conveying a piece of real property means to transfer the ownership interest in said property from one party to another. A “conveyance” also describes the written instrument by which the transfer occurs. Conveying a property requires several different steps. As conveyance deeds, both quitclaim and warranty deeds need to contain a few similar vital pieces of information. These include:

  • Defined real property boundaries. The grantor will likely need to order a land survey to establish the boundaries and measurements of a piece of land. Documenting the exact parameters of a property is important to avoid property line disputes in the future.
  • Clear language of conveyance. Both types of deeds must include clear language of conveyance from the grantor to the grantee. Both deeds should transfer the title, interests, and all claims of the property. They should also describe the state of the property at the time of the conveyance.
  • Signatures from all parties involved. For a quitclaim or a warranty deed to become valid, all parties involved must sign the document. The current property owner and the owner to-be must sign the deed of conveyance. Upon signing, both deeds convey all legal ownership, rights, and authority over the property.

Both types of deeds and all other deeds of conveyance should be in writing. Oral deeds can be impossible to uphold in a court of law. Create written deeds that state the names of the grantor and the grantee, have written signatures, and a notary seal. Finally, the grantee will need to register the quitclaim or the warranty deed with the county to make the conveyance official and part of public record.

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What Makes These Two Deeds So Different?

Despite both deeds serving the same general purpose, they are two very different documents with highly disparate end results. In fact, quitclaim deeds also go by the antithesis of warranty deeds: “non-warranty deeds.” It is extremely important to recognize the differences between these two, and to select your type of deed wisely. This is because the warranty deed protects the grantee from title disputes while the quitclaim deed does not. Here are five main differences between quitclaim and warranty deeds to recognize:

  1. A quitclaim deed only transfers the grantor’s interests in a piece of real estate. It does not create any warranties on the title. Only whatever part of the land the grantor owns, if any, will transfer to the grantee. A warranty deed contains a guarantee that the grantor has legal title and rights to the real estate.
  2. A quitclaim deed offers little to no protection to the grantee. It offers the least amount of protection out of any other type of deed. If the property has any prior claims to it, contains a defect, or has liens against it, the grantee has no legal options against the grantor. The grantee is accepting the title as-is, with zero guarantees that the title is clean – or even that the grantor actually has the right to conduct the conveyance.
  3. A warranty deed, on the other hand, offers the greatest amount of protection to the grantee. It is proof that the grantor is promising a clean title, without any prior claims or demands from other parties. If property does end up having a defect, the grantee can sue the grantor for damages. Warranty deeds ensure that the grantor has the right to sell the property, and guarantees that there are no liens or encumbrances against the land.
  4. Quitclaim deeds are simpler to exact than warranty deeds, and therefore more popular amongst family members or parties for whom warranty is not of concern. For example, quitclaim deeds are common tools in conveying property from one spouse to another after divorce. Quitclaim deeds do not come with the option to purchase title insurance, and therefore offer the lowest level of protection.
  5. Grantors, or sellers, produce and sign warranty deeds during real-estate closings. Warranty deeds include full property descriptions and pledges that the grantor owns clear title to the property. The quitclaim deed is typically not part of traditional property sales. Instead, people use them to transfer property through wills or as gifts. Boundaries in quitclaim deeds may not be certain.

People typically only use quitclaim deeds to convey titles between friends or family members, while warranty deeds are more common between professional parties. If a title has a defect, a quitclaim deed might be the only way to legally transfer a piece of real estate. Make sure to work with a real estate agent when conveying a piece of property, to be sure you choose the appropriate type of deed for your situation and protect the future of an investment.

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