Real Estate Law

Quitclaim Deeds

Buying a home or a piece of land is usually a monumental purchase. When it’s your first time buying your own real estate, it can be a personal milestone. But there are many complex parts of the home-buying process and even experienced property buyers may get lost in the weeds.

Whether you are purchasing a home, gifting it to a loved one, or waiving your rights to the property, quitclaim deeds can facilitate property transfers in different ways. You should consult with a local real estate attorney in your area to verify a deed and your rights under a quitclaim.

What Is a Quitclaim Deed?

When you purchase real estate, you usually receive a house deed, a legal document transfer that indicates you’re the new owner. It’s important to know what kind of deed you’re getting before you commit to ownership of real property because not all deeds are created equal.

Different types of deeds that can dictate what you actually own and what you’re able to do with the property. When most people think of getting a deed to their house, they imagine a warranty deed, which guarantees that the seller has all the rights to sell that property to the buyer. But quitclaim deeds don’t offer the same promises to the buyer or grantee.

quitclaim deed is a person’s express release of any ownership rights that they made hold or assert with respect to a property.

A seller or grantor who provides a quitclaim deed to a home or piece of land is not necessarily suggesting that they had any legal rights in the property to begin with. Rather, the quitclaim serves to relinquish all the ownership interest in that property, if any, that they may have personally. The home may still be subject to ownership claims by others, liensmortgages, or encumbrances.

Why Use a Quitclaim Deed?

Quitclaim deeds are not the standard type of deed used in real estate transactions or property transfers. Because of how a quitclaim deed works, they aren’t as common as warranty deeds for buying and selling property, but quitclaim deeds still have their purpose.

For one thing, quitclaim deeds are usually cheaper to transfer, require less time to transfer, and require less red tape than a warranty deed. They’re also a good way to protect a seller who likely has full legal title to the land they’re selling but was never able to fully verify the title transfers of the property. A title search is an important part of the deed transfer process to verify who has full legal rights to the title of the property.

A few examples of when a quitclaim deed form may be especially appropriate include:

  • Divorce: One spouse can quickly transfer their share of the title over to the other spouse’s name.
  • Marriage: For a spouse who previously owned the property alone to add their new spouse to the deed.
  • Gifts: To keep the costs of the transfer down for both the giver and the receiver, such as giving the home to a family member, a quit claim deed may make sense.
  • Transfer: When you want to take the property you personally own and legally transfer it to another legal entity you have.
  • Fixing errors: When you need to fix errors on the existing property title.
  • Living trust: When you want to transfer property into a living trust to avoid probate. Talk to an estate planning attorney for advice about trusts.

How to File a Quitclaim Deed

Quitclaim deeds require less information than a warranty deed. Usually, a quitclaim just needs, at a minimum, the names of the buyer and seller, a legal description of the property, the price paid for the property, the seller’s signature, and a notary public’s signature. You can generally get a quitclaim deed form from your local county recorder’s office or the county clerk. Quitclaim deed transfer requirements may vary by jurisdiction, so you should consult with a local attorney for legal advice if you are unsure that all formalities have been met.

How to Get a Warranty Deed From a Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed does not have the same guarantees of a clear transfer title that comes with a warranty deed. If you take ownership under a quitclaim deed, you only have the interest in the property that the seller has. If you want to sell the property, you could transfer it with a warranty deed but you may be liable if there are any title defects. Before you transfer property with a warranty after you got the property as a quitclaim, talk to a real estate attorney and make sure a title search shows clear title.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some frequently asked questions about quitclaim deeds for homeowners:​

How Long Is a Quitclaim Deed Good For?

After a quitclaim is filed, there is generally a limited amount of time to challenge the transfer to the property owner. For example, in California, the statute of limitations on a quit claim deed is 5 years. After that period, there are limited options to challenge the property transfer.

Does a Quitclaim Deed Remove Me From the Mortgage?

In general, a mortgage does not follow the quitclaim deed. If you want to get out from owing money on a mortgage, a quitclaim deed may not be the right option. For example, a property owner wants to transfer ownership to an ex-spouse and be relieved of mortgage payments. The quitclaim would release ownership in the property but they may still be responsible for paying the mortgage.

Does a Quitclaim Deed Give You Ownership?

A quitclaim deed works by only transferring whatever interest the grantor has in the property. Nothing in the quitclaim deed has any warrantees or even guarantees the owner has clear title.

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