Defining a Property Deed

A property deed, in general, is a written document that conveys legal and equitable title to real property from one person or entity to another. Most deeds typically convey what is called “fee simple” interest, or the highest level of ownership.

Although there is no standard form for a property deed in Texas, a deed is not effective unless:
Both the grantor and grantee can be ascertained
There are operative words showing an intent by the grantor to convey title to an interest in real property to the grantee;
The instrument is signed and acknowledged by the grantor
The executed deed is delivered to the grantee

The three main types of deeds you typically see in Texas are the general warranty deed, the special warranty deed, and the deed without warranty.

General Warranty Deed

A general warranty deed contains both express and implied warranties against defects in title, and expressly warrants the entire chain of title all the way back the the original sovereign grant of the land. It binds the grantor to defend against all title defects, even if those defects occurred prior to the grantor’s period of ownership or were unknown at the time the deed was executed. A general warranty deed is obviously the preferred deed for a buyer because it gives the buyer recourse against the grantor if any defects in title are discovered after the purchase.

Special Warranty Deed

Like the general warranty deed, a special warranty deed also warrants against title defects, but warrants title only from the grantor to the grantee, but no further back in the chain of title than that. This means the grantor’s liability for title defects is limited to his period of ownership and the conveyance of title to the grantee. So, if the grantee discovers a title defect in his property that occurred before the grantor’s period of ownership, the grantee could not seek remedies against the grantor.

Deed Without Warranties

A deed without warranties is exactly as its name suggests – a deed that conveys real property without any warranties, express or implied. These deeds are typically only used the parties are unsure about the extent of the grantor’s interest in the real property in question, or if the grantor is only willing to convey the property if there is no liability for doing so. If a deed without warranties is used, the parties assume the risk of any uncertain interest in the property. Although a deed without warranties is never a preferred method of transferring title, it is still an effective means of conveyance.

Quitclaim Deed

There is a fourth method of conveying interest in real property that is worth mentioning. A quitclaim, often misidentified as a “quick claim deed,” is not really a deed at all. Where the general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and deed without warranties all convey title to a piece of property from a grantor to a grantee, a quitclaim merely relinquishes any interest a person may have in that property (not necessarily title). As the name implies, a quitclaim “quits” and “claim,” right, or interest the quitclaim grantor may have in that property, if that interest exists at all. Because it doesn’t actually convey title, quitclaim should never be used as a link in the chain of title on its own on its own. Moreover, most title companies will not issue title insurance if there is a quitclaim serving as a link in the chain of title.

If you are interested in having a property deed prepared, we can prepare any of the deeds mentioned here, including a quitclaim, for $229 plus filing fees.  We serve the entire state of Texas and would be happy to speak with you about your real estate needs.