In Arizona, as in other states, property ownership is determined by the property's deed, and the recorder's office records deeds in the county where the property sits. When you, as a property owner, want to transfer your ownership interest, or part of it, to someone else, you must use a deed to officially give the property to its new owner.
Choose a Type of Transfer
The type of deed you need to transfer ownership rights to your property depends on the type of rights you want to transfer. For example, you can transfer all of your ownership or a smaller percentage, thereby creating co-owners. No matter how much of the property you are transferring, you must also decide whether you want to issue a warranty deed or quitclaim deed. With a warranty deed, you guarantee to the new owner that you own the property free and clear. Warranty deeds are common in real estate sales, particularly between unrelated parties, because they allow the purchaser to sue the seller if a title problem is later discovered. With a quitclaim deed, you guarantee only that you are giving up whatever you might have owned. In other words, if it turns out that you owned your property subject to a lien, the new owner cannot sue you to make you pay the lien. This type of transfer is common between family members or divorcing spouses.
Create a New Deed
Once you decide what type of transfer is most appropriate for your situation, you must draft the deed itself or have an attorney or document provider draft it for you. Arizona deeds must meet the legal requirements established by Arizona statutes, including a brief statement of the purpose of the document, description of the land's location, your full name and that of the recipient and a description of the purchase price. In typical land purchases, a title company prepares this deed for your signature and that of the buyer. However, there is no requirement that the deed be prepared by a title company or attorney to be valid in Arizona.
Ensure Correct Formatting
Arizona law is somewhat specific about the format for a deed or other recorded instrument. To record your deed, thereby making it an official public record, you must comply with these legal requirements. For example, the deed must have original signatures. It must be on paper no wider than 8 1/2 inches and no longer than 14 inches, and the print size cannot be smaller than 10-point type. The deed must have at least a one-half inch margin on all sides, and the first page of the deed must have a top margin of at least two inches. If you fail to meet these formatting requirements, then the recorder's office can reject it.
Record the New Deed
You must record the deed, evidencing your land transfer, by delivering a copy or original to the county recorder's office for the county in which the property is located. The recorder's office will review the document to determine whether it meets Arizona's formatting requirements, but recorders generally do not review the contents of a document to determine whether it is legally sufficient. The fee for recording your deed varies, based on its length. At the time you file the deed, you must file an affidavit of value, signed by you and the buyer, which certifies for tax purposes the value of the transferred property. Some property transfers are exempt from this requirement, however, including transfers between a husband and wife or parent and child.