What Is a Quitclaim Deed?

FT Contributor
A pen, calculator, and eyeglasses sit on top of a quitclaim deed on a desk.

A quitclaim deed is a document that’s used to transfer the interest in a property from one owner to another. When an individual buys or is gifted a property, a quitclaim deed can be completed to signify this transfer of interest.

Also referred to as a non-warranty deed, a quitclaim deed includes information on the grantor, or current owner of the property, and the grantee, or new property owner. These terms help to identify the buyer and seller in the deed but it’s important to note that with a quitclaim deed, the buyer has no title security. The grantor makes no promises to help the buyer resolve any title issues or defects that may arise after closing on the property.

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Things to Know About Quitclaim Deeds

If you’re thinking about buying a property that only offers a quitclaim deed and not the usual house deed, there are a few issues to consider before agreeing to the transaction.

  1. You don’t have protection as a buyer: It’s not guaranteed that you’ll obtain the title and full interest in the property with a quitclaim deed. The current owner offers no assistance with title issues or defects that may arise.
  2. You should know and trust the grantor: You could end up with no rights to a property if you use a quitclaim deed, so it’s important that you know and trust the grantor to truly have ownership that can be transferred to you.
  3. It can be used to correct a title defect: In some cases, a quitclaim deed may be created to simply correct an error on the title, such as a name misspelling or a missing signature. In these cases, there may be no ownership transfer and just a correction.
  4. It can sometimes act just like a general warranty deed: If the title is clear and you take complete ownership of a property with no title defects, a quitclaim deed can be just as effective and efficient as a general warranty deed. However, this is not guaranteed.
  5. It doesn’t affect the mortgage: A quitclaim deed doesn’t guarantee that the grantee will obtain full ownership rights without title issues. Therefore, these deeds are usually used when there’s no mortgage on the home and generally when no money is exchanged for the property. The grantor can use a quitclaim when there’s a mortgage on the property, but there’s no guarantee the grantee will continue making mortgage payments.

Quitclaim Deeds vs. Other Property Deeds

A quitclaim deed is unique from other types of deeds because it contains no warranties of title and offers the buyer no title securities at all. A general warranty deed offers the grantee protection from any title issues that will arise. Unlike a quitclaim deed, with a warranty deed the grantor must help resolve any title issues that come up, regardless of when the discrepancy occurred.

Quitclaim deeds are also different than special warranty deeds. A special warranty deed offers the buyer protection against title discrepancies that may have occurred while the grantor held ownership of the property. If title defects occurred outside of the grantor’s ownership, however, the grantee is responsible for attempting to resolve them without assistance from the grantor.

Who Uses Quitclaim Deeds?

You generally wouldn’t use a quitclaim deed if you’re buying your first home or purchasing a property you’ll live in. These types of deeds are often used when transferring property ownership without exchanging money, such as when executing a will or when a property is gifted from one family member to another.

In these situations, quitclaim deeds are more common than general warranty deeds because the grantor may not want to deal with any title issues that could arise. Since no money is exchanged and the grantor isn’t making money on the transaction, liability for title defects or issues may be too much of a hassle. By using a quitclaim deed, the grantor doesn’t have to worry about being responsible for any issues that might arise.

In some cases, a quitclaim deed may be used when an investor buys a property. The quitclaim deed relinquishes title responsibility from the grantor if he or she doesn’t have the time or resources to investigate the validity of the title. In any case, the grantee makes a bargain by agreeing to a quitclaim deed. With this type of deed, title issues become the new owner’s responsibility, regardless of when the discrepancy occurred.

How Does a Quitclaim Work?

Since quitclaim deeds do not claim responsibility for title issues by the grantor, they’re generally easier to navigate than general warranty deeds. While you can create these documents on your own, you should consider using an attorney for assistance, even if there’s no money changing hands or you’re just filing the deed to correct a title discrepancy.

How to File A Quitclaim Deed

To file a quitclaim deed, you’ll first need to craft the document so that it meets the legal guidelines in your state. An attorney is useful for ensuring you create a form that’s legally acceptable. The deed must include:

  • Grantor’s name.
  • Grantee’s name.
  • Property address.
  • Notarized signatures from both parties.
  • A statement that the grantor is transferring interest to the grantee.

In some states, a notarized signature from a witness must also be included in the document. The quitclaim deed must be taken to a title company so a new title can be created with the grantee’s name as the property owner. Once the new title is issued, it must be submitted to the county clerk to record the transaction in the property’s records.

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