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What Is a Property Deed?

A property deed is a legal document used to record information about the ownership of a given piece of property.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A property deed is a legal document used to record information about the ownership of a given piece of property. A number of different kinds of deeds are used for different situations, and it is important for people to use a deed suitable for a given application to avoid problems in the future. Property deeds are recorded with a central clerk or recorder, and copies can also be furnished on request to the parties in a deal. They should be kept in a safe place, along with other important records.

A classic example of a property deed is a warranty deed, used when someone is transferring property to another party. This document records the location and nature of the property, provides information about the old and new owners, and offers a guarantee that there are no impediments to the transfer, such as liens on the property or a sale to another person. A grand deed is another kind of property deed, where the grantor indicates that the property has not been promised to someone else but does not guarantee freedom from encumbrances like liens.

The quitclaim deed is another type. In this deed, a person surrenders interest in a property. The deed does not provide information about the extent of the interest or who else may have an interest in the property. This type of deed is often used in divorce proceedings, where one spouse surrenders interest in real estate to the other with a quitclaim deed.

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To be legally valid, a property deed may need to meet a variety of requirements, depending on regional law. Original signatures may be required to confirm the legitimacy of the transfer and it needs to be witnessed. Stamps from official clerks and recorders can be required to show it is an original document and accurately reflects records maintained by the clerk. The deed may also need to include specific information and there can be formatting requirements as well.

If there are any doubts about the legitimacy of a property deed, the official records should be consulted. People may also find it useful to have a title search conducted. In a title search, a researcher looks for the complete history of a property's title, following it through multiple owners and checking for issues like liens, easements, and so forth that may cloud the title or complicate future transfers. Title searches are usually recommended before real estate transactions take place so any problems can be identified and resolved before the sale.

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