Quit Claim Deed Vs. Warranty Deed

••• Cindy Hill

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Buyers obtain legal title to a piece of real estate by means of a deed from the seller. The two primary forms of deeds are the quit claim deed and the warranty deed. Although warranty deeds convey more extensive assurances about legal title to the property, there are times when a quit claim deed is the most appropriate, or only possible means of conveyance.

Function of a Warranty Deed

A warranty deed is the most common real estate title transfer document. A properly executed warranty deed conveys full title to the purchaser along with certain assurances regarding the title and the seller's ownership of the property.

Significance of a Warranty Deed

By signing a warranty deed, a seller guarantees that he has full title to the property, is competent to transfer the property and that the property is is not burdened by such encumbrances as liens, leases or rights-of-way other than those disclosed in the deed. The seller also guarantees that he will defend the buyer against anyone who attempts to claim title to the property and to fix any errors that might be found regarding the property title.

Function of a Quit Claim Deed

A quit claim deed is a statement of release of whatever interest the seller may have in a piece of property. It states that the seller is uncertain what her legal interests in the parcel may be, but to the extent that such interests exist, she is releasing those interests to the buyer. In using a quit claim deed, a seller is not guaranteeing that she owns the property.

When a Quit Claim Deed is Appropriate

Quit claim deeds are often the most appropriate form of real estate transfer between family members or when title to real estate changes because of divorce. A quit claim deed is also used to relinquish an unexercised option to purchase real estate.

Where Quit Claim May Be Necessary

A quit claim deed may be the only legal means of transferring real estate that has a title defect. A lien by a defunct business or an easement granted to a party who can not be found are two common situations where transfer by quit claim deed is the only practical means to convey the property. Some real estate owners may be able to bring action in civil court to cure title defects so they can offer a warranty deed. Depending on the nature of the title defect, this can be expensive and complicated.

Quit Claim Provisions Within a Warranty Deed

Many warranty deeds contain provisions conveyed by quit claim only. This means the subject matter of that particular provision can not be assured. Title to land from the front curb line of a property to the center line of the street is often conveyed by quit claim, even within a warranty deed, because of uncertainty as to whether the government agency that owns the road owns the land under it. Portions of a property that is under water or below a flood line also are often transferred by quit claim only.


Some states recognize additional forms of deeds, such as Florida's special warranty deed. State law also varies regarding real estate transfer taxes. Some states differentiate between warranty and quit claim transfers in tax calculations. Consult a real estate attorney in the state where the property is located to learn the full significance of warranty and quit claim deeds relative to any particular land transaction.



About the Author

A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.

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  • Cindy Hill