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How to Transfer Ownership of a Real Estate Property

by Jeremy Watson, studioD

Transferring ownership of real estate is a relatively simple process. A property deed is the vehicle for re-assigning ownership. It’s a legal document used to transfer ownership from grantor to the grantee. The specific rules, regulations and necessary forms vary by jurisdiction. It is important to know the process in your area to ensure that the deed transfer is legal and recorded correctly.

Choose a real estate professional who can guide you through the process. A licensed real estate attorney can prepare and file the transfer deed. He will confirm the owners whose names appear on the deed. Your lawyer will also establish the legal description of your property. Homes in subdivisions must be described by lot and block number. A metes and bounds survey description will be needed if not in a subdivision. This information must be written on the new deed exactly as it appears on the current deed.

Determine which deed best fits your situation. A number of deeds can be used to transfer ownership: quit claim deed, grant deed, general warranty deed, special warranty deed, fiduciary deed and trust deed. The most common are the quit claim, grant and warranty deed. A quit claim deed is primarily used when transferring between family members. It transfers all rights of the grantor to the grantee, but does not provide any warranties. A grant deed transfers rights and implies certain warranties. A warranty deed transfers rights and explicitly warranties that the property is free of liens or claims on ownership. Discuss the details of your property transfer with your lawyer. He will help you decide which deed is right for your transaction.

Collect all paperwork about the property involved in the transfer. For example, if the mortgage has been paid, include a copy of the release from the lender. Also include documentation of any easements or liens on the property. Provide this information to your lawyer.

Sign the deed. The current owners must provide government issued identification, sign the deed in the presence of witnesses and have it notarized. Once complete, the deed needs to be delivered to the county clerk for recording.

Follow-up with your lawyer or check with the county clerk that the deed was filed and recorded. The process usually takes four to eight weeks, after which you will be mailed the new deed.

About the Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Jeremy Watson is an engineer and urban planner. He has been involved with urban design, city infrastructure and business since 2008. Watson holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University Florida, as well as a Master of Science in urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech.

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