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WHAT IS A GENERAL WARRANTY DEED?

A general warranty deed is a legally-binding document used to transfer property from one person to another. It offers the most protection for the buyer as it offers a warranty that the seller or grantor holds clear and unencumbered legal title to the property. A general warranty deed is the most common way to transfer ownership of property to a buyer.

A general warranty deed also offers the buyer a warranty that there are no liens or creditor’s claims against the property and, if there are, the seller will compensate the buyer for those claims.

A general warranty deed is not a contract of sale. It does not include the property price or proof of transfer of funds. It merely serves to facilitate the sale and transfer of a property by offering a warranty that the grantor is within is legal rights to sell it to the grantee, and there are no liens or creditor claims against the property.

How does a general warranty deed differ from other deeds?

There are three types of real estate deeds:

  • general warranty deed
  • special warranty deed
  • quitclaim deed

Each type of real estate deed conveys in writing a property owners intention to sell or bequeath their rights to a property to another person. The difference between the three types of deeds has to do with the types of warranties the grantor (party selling or disposing of a property) is making to the grantee (person buying a property or receiving ownership).

General warranty deed

With a general warranty deed, a seller or grantor transfers the property with certain guarantees or warranties. The grantor is legally bound by these warranties, and the buyer is protected against fraud and future claims.

Special warranty deed

With a special warranty deed, a seller or grantor provides a guarantee or warrant against anything that occurred during the time they owned the property. In other words, the grantor does not offer a guarantee against any defects that existed before the grantor took ownership. It’s typically used for commercial property transactions, and protects the buyer from fraud and future claims.

Quitclaim deed

With a quitclaim deed, the seller or grantor makes no guarantees and does not warrant that he/she actually owns the property. It’s commonly used for estate planning; for instance, a parent promises their home will go to a particular sibling. Quitclaim deeds are not used for real estate sales because the new owner is offered no guarantee about the property title.

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When is a general warranty deed used?

A general warranty deed is used when the seller or grantor and grantee are strangers. If they are known to each other, it’s more likely a quitclaim deed will be used. A general warranty deed protects the buyer who is financing a new property through a financial institution and needs a guarantee that the seller is legitimate and within his/her rights to sell the property.

A general warranty deed makes the seller liable for any title problems. If a creditor makes a claim against a property during or after it has been transferred into the new owner’s name, the seller is liable and will have to compensate the buyer.

What information is included in a general warranty deed?

A basic general warranty deed should cover the following:

  • the name and address of the seller (the grantor)
  • the name and address of the buyer (the grantee)
  • a description of the property, as per 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

6 covenants of a general warranty deed

The general warranty deed makes 6 covenants - promises - to the buyer:
Present covenants

  1. Covenant of Seisin: the seller guarantees he/she has legal title and possession of the property
  2. Covenant of right to convey: the grantor guarantees the validity of both title and possession
  3. Covenant against encumbrances: the seller guarantees there are no creditor claims against the property; including easements, mortgages, trusts or limitations on the title

Future covenants

  1. Covenant of warranty: the seller guarantees he/she will protect and defend the buyer against anyone who comes and claims a superior title of the property and/or will compensate the buyer for any claim
  2. Covenant of quiet enjoyment: the seller guarantees the buyer will have unimpaired use and unrestricted enjoyment of the property
  3. Covenant of further assurances: the seller guarantees that he/she will take actions reasonably necessary to protect the buyers title if found to be defective
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