What prospective real estate buyers should know about property deeds

When a prospective buyer of residential or commercial real estate locates what could prove to be the perfect property, the real work begins. Indeed, inspections must be made, negotiations undertaken, title work performed and financing arranged.

Once this lengthy process is complete, the two sides will sit down at the closing to finalize the deal by appending their signature to seemingly innumerable documents. It's important for both parties to keep in mind, however, that these documents they are signing are of considerable legal importance, particularly the property deed.

In general, a property deed is the binding legal instrument used to convey (i.e., legally transfer) title to real property from the seller -- often referred to as the grantor -- to the buyer -- often referred to as the grantee.

In order to be considered valid in the majority of states, it's necessary for a property deed, whether a general warranty deed, quitclaim deed, special warranty deed, or special purpose deed, to satisfy several basic elements, including:

  • The deed must be in writing
  • The language used in the deed must adequately identify both the grantor and grantee(s), and adequately describe the real property to which ownership is being transferred.
  • The deed must contain certain operative words/phrases of conveyance.
  • The deed must be signed by the grantor and grantee(s).
  • The grantor must have legal capacity, meaning the competence required to execute a valid contract, while the grantee(s) must be capable of actually receiving the grant of property.
  • The deed must be legally delivered to the grantee(s) or someone acting on their behalf, and this delivery of the deed by the grantor must be accepted.

Here's hoping the foregoing information provided some insight into what can prove to be an admittedly arcane process. Indeed, those who have questions about the purchase of residential or commercial real estate, or who would like to see their interests protected at a closing should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.      

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