A grant deed is a legal document signed by the owner of real property stating that he (or a couple in the case of joint ownership) is the legal owner and that the property is being transferred free of any liens or claims. Grant deeds must be notarized. All rights and interests in the property are also transferred with the purchase. Some encumbrances may be placed on the property, but these must be clearly stated in the grant deed. Grant deeds are used widely in the United States.
Locate the official legal description of the property. This will include some or all of the following descriptions: division, subdivision, tract and/or parcel number. If the property has been subdivided at some point, search for any new legal descriptions for the property. This information is available from the tax bill, prior sales documents and title searches (or title abstracts). The county recorder's office can provide this information from the street address. Some counties have this information available for public viewing on the county website on the Internet.
Pay for a title search (or title abstract). This is the easiest way to obtain a valid deed, because the title company has access to national record centers. There is a significant fee for this service, but as part of the price the purchaser obtains insurance that the title is accurate. If it has errors that result in any financial impact, these will be paid by the title company's insurance policy. Some offices label the title search service "title insurance" on official escrow or title paperwork.
Search the records at the county recorder's office for the grant deed if you want to do it yourself. Grant deeds are signed and filed with the county office at the time of the sale of the property. Many offices transfer paper records to computerized files. Older grant deeds may have been saved on microfilm or microfiche. Most offices will make copies of the grant deeds for a small fee.
Ask the officials at the recorder's office to check for any newly filed deeds or encumbrances on the property. In larger cities and towns, where many homes are sold, new deeds may take months to be filed.
- Information filed at county offices, or available on the Internet, may not be correct. It takes offices in larger cities months--or even years in the case of large cities with backlogs--to log grant deeds and lien information. Title companies file grant deeds as soon as the county office opens in the morning to ensure that other liens are not placed on the property before the company files the deed.
- Check with any lien holders listed on the grant deed. These include mortgage companies and loans secured using the real property as collateral. The information available from these sources may provide supplemental information.