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Deeds In California: Know the Differences
By Barbara Pronin
A deed, as you know, is the legal document used by property owners to transfer their ownership of the property to a new owner. In California, the vast majority of property is transferred through one of two types of deed: the grant deed – by far the most commonly used – and the quitclaim deed.
With a grant deed, the grantor, or seller, transfers his ownership in the property to the grantee, or buyer, guaranteeing that he actually owns the property. This provides protection for the grantee, or buyer, because it ensures she is getting what she is buying, and a title company has the ability to insure her title.
Most lenders and title insurers require that the property transfer be accomplished through a grant deed, so they know that the deed to the property they are lending on or insuring is properly secured.
Quitclaim deeds are similar to grant deeds in that they convey the rights to a property, but with a key difference: In a quitclaim deed, the grantor is giving up whatever rights he has—or may not have—to the property. But there is no implied guarantee that he has the rights to the property at all. For that reason, few buyers will accept a quitclaim deed.
A quitclaim deed can be useful when a property is being transferred without being sold, as when an owner gets married and wants to add a spouse’s name to the title – or when owners divorce and one spouse’s name is removed from the title. It can also be used when parents transfer property to their children or when siblings transfer property to each other. No money is involved in the transaction, no title search is done to verify ownership, and no title insurance is issued.
Because of the guarantees a grant deed confers to the buyer, it is preferred in the case of California home sales.
To be legally effective, a grant deed must include certain basic information, including the name of the new owner, the signature of the person conveying title, and a proper legal description of the property.
In California, both grant deeds and quitclaim deeds are recorded at the county recorder’s office. A Preliminary Change of Ownership Request should be attached to the deed. All deeds must be notarized in order to be recorded and the property legally transferred.

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a statement of the law, and is not to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice. The material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy.

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