An instrument that transfers real property from one person to another and in which the grantor promises that title is good and clear of any claims.
A deed is a written instrument that transfers the title of property from one person to another. Although many types of deeds exist, title is usually transferred by a warranty deed. A warranty deed provides the greatest protection to the purchaser because the grantor (seller) pledges or warrants that she legally owns the property and that there are no outstanding liens, mortgages, or other encumbrances against it. A warranty deed is also a guarantee of title, which means that the seller may be held liable for damages if the grantee (buyer) discovers the title is defective.
There are two types of warranty deeds: general and special. A general warranty deed not only conveys to the grantee all of the grantor's interest in and title to the property but also guarantees that if the title is defective or has a "cloud" on it, such as a mortgage claim, tax lien, title claim, judgment, or mechanic's lien, the grantee may hold the grantor liable.
A special warranty deed conveys the grantor's title to the grantee and promises to protect the grantee against title defects or claims asserted by the grantor and any persons whose right to assert a claim against the title arose during the period in which the grantor held title to the property. In a special warranty deed, the grantor guarantees to the grantee that the grantor has done nothing during the time he held title to the property that might in the future impair the grantee's title.
A warranty deed should contain an accurate description of the property being conveyed, be signed and witnessed according to the laws of the state where the property is located, and be delivered to the purchaser at closing. The deed should be recorded by the buyers of the property at the public records office, which is usually located in the county courthouse. Recording a deed gives "notice to the world" that a particular piece of property has been sold. Though the grantor guarantees good title in a warranty deed, the deed is no substitute for title insurance because a warranty from a grantor who later dies or goes bankrupt may have little value.