Which type of deed offers the buyer the best protection?

For first time homebuyers, or even experienced homebuyers, there are many different aspects of a real estate transaction that seem confusing. One of the most confusing areas can be understanding the types of deeds.

A deed is a legal document that transfers the title of real property from the seller to the buyer. In Florida, there are three main types of deeds: general warranty deeds, special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds.

The central differences between these deeds are the covenants (also known as agreements) and warranties that are conveyed by the grantor (the transferring party) to the grantee (the party receiving the deed).

A general warranty deed gives the buyer the highest level of protection, as it provides significant assurances conveyed by the grantor to the grantee. This deed promises that the seller owns the property, has the legal right to sell the property and that the property is free of liens or encumbrances. In addition, the general warranty deed includes a promise that the new buyer’s ownership will not be impacted by a third-party claim against the property, the seller promises to defend the buyer’s title and will continue to do whatever may be reasonably necessary in the future to perfect title for the buyer. Because of the protections that come with a general warranty deed, this type of deed is the most commonly used deed in sales of residential properties.

The second type of deed, the special warranty deed, doesn’t provide as much protection for the grantee. In a special warranty deed, the grantor promises only that the grantor did not create title defects. The grantor is not responsible for and represents nothing about any claims or title defects that arose prior to grantor’s ownership of the property. This type of deed is more commonly used in sales of commercial property.

Lastly, a quitclaim deed provides the least amount of protection for the grantee. This deed simply transfers any interest that the grantor may have in the property to the grantee and does not warrant the grantor has any interest in the property at all to convey. While the quitclaim deed may seem risky for the grantee, it is useful in some scenarios. It’s commonly used between family members to retitle property, such as adding or removing a family member from the title, in times of divorce or to clear up questions of title on a property with persons of unknown interest.

The different types of deeds may seem complicated, but an experienced real estate lawyer can make sure all of your closing documents are prepared properly and represent your best interests.

Miranda K. Martinez is a 2019 graduate of Stetson University’s College of Law and recently joined Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A., in Lakeland. Questions can be submitted to thelaw@cclmlaw.com.