Written by Avvo Staff

How to transfer property

Find out what type deed you'll need to transfer property

Property deeds document and transfer ownership of real property. The process depends on a number of factors, including the type of ownership, who you want to transfer property to, and whether the property also has a mortgage on it.

What is a deed?

A property deed documents a piece of real estate and documenting the transfer of ownership from one person (the grantor) to another (the grantee). It shows who owns title to the property. Most states require deeds to be notarized in order to be valid.

What are the different types of deeds?

The 3 main types of deeds are quitclaim deeds, grant deeds, and warranty deeds.

  • A quitclaim deed is used to transfer ownership without a sale taking place or verifying ownership, often used to transfer property between family members.

  • A grant deed is a more formal type of transfer usually used when the grantor and the grantee are unfamiliar with each other, often used to sell commercial or residential property.

  • A warranty deed is a more specific deed that provides for certain promises between the grantor and the grantee. The grantor promises that the deed is free and clear of any claims, such as an outstanding mortgage or encumbrance. If the grantee later finds encumbrances on the property, the grantee may sue the grantor for damages. Warranty deeds are commonly used for residential real estate purchases.

What are different types of ownership?

There are generally 2 different types of ownership.

  • In a joint tenancy, you own property with one or several other people. Each person has an equal share of the property and if one owner dies, the rest of the owners inherit the deceased owner’s share equally. This is called the right of survivorship.

  • A tenancy in common has no right of survivorship. Several people own property, but the shares do not automatically go to the other owners upon one of the owner’s death. Instead, the property will transfer to the deceased owner’s heirs or to whoever is designated in their will.

How can I add someone to my property deed?

You can usually add someone to your deed by executing a new deed transferring ownership to that person. You must describe exactly how much of the property you wish to transfer, otherwise the deed assumes equal ownership. Again, most states require that the deed be notarized.

What is the difference between a deed and a mortgage?

While a deed shows ownership of the property, the mortgage is the loan that pays for it.

Someone can pay off the mortgage even though someone else’s name is on the deed. In most cases, the names on the need are the owners of the property, regardless of who makes the mortgage payments.

The name on the mortgage is the one responsible for the mortgage payment, even if their name is not on the deed. Not paying the mortgage will affect the mortgage holder’s credit. So, if you hold both a deed and a mortgage and wish to transfer the property, it is important to transfer both the deed and the mortgage as well, unless you intend to continue paying the mortgage.

Property laws can vary widely from state to state. To understand more about how to properly transfer your property, speak with an experienced real estate lawyer.

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