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In a typical real estate transaction, a warranty deed is used to transfer ownership. That means that the person selling the property owns it and has a right to sell it and that no third party has a lien against the property. A title search is conducted, and title insurance is purchased to protect the buyer.

A quitclaim deed transfers ownership of a property, but only what a person actually owns, if anything at all. If two people jointly own a property, one individual can transfer his or her ownership stake without affecting the co-owner’s stake. A quitclaim deed does not affect a mortgage on the property or the previous owner’s responsibility to pay it.

The document must include the location and description of the property, the names of the grantor and grantee, and the date of transfer. It needs to be signed by the appropriate parties and may need to be filed with the county clerk, depending on state law.

When Is a Quitclaim Deed Appropriate?
A quitclaim deed is an easy way to transfer property that’s not being sold. For example, parents may want to transfer ownership of a house to a child or put the property in a living trust. A quitclaim deed can be used if someone owns a house, gets married, and wants to add the new spouse’s name to the deed, or if a couple who jointly own a home get divorced and one person will keep the house.

A quitclaim deed can also be used to correct a defect in the title. For example, a misspelled name, a missing signature, or a document that doesn’t have information worded in a way required by state law can be amended using a quitclaim deed.

Why a Quitclaim Deed Should Not Be Used for a Sale
When property ownership is transferred with a quitclaim deed, no title search is performed and no title insurance is purchased. This is fine when property is being transferred between family members who know and trust each other and when no money is changing hands. A quitclaim deed is not appropriate for a sale because the buyer wouldn’t know for sure that the seller even owned the property because no title search would be conducted. Someone could claim to own a house and sell it with a quitclaim deed, and the buyer could find out after handing over money that the “seller” didn’t own the house in the first place.

Ask Questions Before You Sign Documents
A quitclaim deed is generally used to transfer property between family members without an exchange of funds or to correct a defect in the title. It should not be used in a real estate sale because of the risk to the buyer. Before you sign a quitclaim deed or any other document related to a real estate transaction, make sure you understand how it could affect your rights and interests. Consult a real estate attorney if you have any questions or concerns.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.