Understanding Property Deeds: The Basics of Transferring Property 


The transfer of real property from one party to another has been taking place for centuries. There was a time when transferring property happened through a ceremonial gesture in which the person transferring the property handed a twig, piece of turf, or other item from the land to the person taking delivery of it. These days, of course, the title to real property is conveyed by a paper deed.


While these two- to four-page documents may appear simple, there can be more to a deed than meets the eye. In addition, there are various types of deeds that convey different types of interests in real property, depending upon the specific language used in the deed.


Before we examine the deeds that are used in Michigan real estate transactions, let’s discuss some deed basics. In the real estate world, a property deed is a written and signed legal instrument that is used to transfer ownership of real property from the old owner (the grantor) to the new owner (the grantee).


Keep in mind: A deed is not the same thing as a title. Title to real property is a chain of events which will include a deed. A deed is the document used to transfer title to an asset like real property, whereas a title is simply a document that lists the legal owner of property such as a vehicle title.


It is always a good idea to consult with a real estate attorney to ensure that a deed includes all legal requirements of that county and state and protects what you are trying to accomplish. After the deed is drafted, you will take it to the Register of Deeds in the county that the property is located and it will be recorded in the public record.


Types of Property Deeds in Michigan


As discussed above, there are several types of deeds that are used in various situations when rights or interests to a property are transferred between individuals. In Michigan, there are five types of deeds:


Warranty Deeds


With a warranty deed, the grantor warrants that they have good title to the property and that they have a right to sell the property to the grantee. Essentially, the grantor promises that the grantee will be able to enjoy the property free from any claim brought by a third party. A warranty deed is prepared and signed by the seller and delivered to the buyer in the form of a copy and the original is then sent for recording.


Quit Claim Deeds


With a quit claim deed the grantor transfers title to a piece of property, but does not warrant that they have good title to the property. This type of deed transfers only whatever interest the grantor has in the property at the time of the conveyance, if any. There is no warranty that the grantor owns the property and is not responsible for anything else that may encumber the title.


Covenant Deeds


Covenant deeds convey only a warranty for the time period that the grantor actually owned the property. With such a deed, if the seller is a bank, the only warranty that the grantor makes is that they have not done anything to cause issues with the title during the time period in which they had title to the property. However, no warranties are made in regard to what may have occurred prior to the grantor acquiring title.


Life Estate Deeds (also known as Ladybird Deed)


These deeds divide ownership into different time periods by giving one owner (the life tenant) a life estate to own the property during life, while transferring all interests in the property to another owner (remainder beneficiary) on the death of the life tenant.

Before considering a ladybird deed a consultation with a qualified estate planning professional should be had.


Transferring Michigan Real Estate


Whether you’re selling your house, giving your home to your kids, or in any situation involving placing your property into the hands of another person, you’ll need to transfer your ownership. A real estate deed transfer is best handled by an experienced attorney and whenever possible the parties should seek the assistance of a licensed Realtor. In Michigan, the process for transferring real estate usually involves four steps:


1. Find the most recent deed to the property – It’s helpful to begin by locating the deed that transferred the property to the current grantor.

2. Create the new deed – Once you have the information from the prior deed, you can create the deed to transfer the property to the new owner or owners.

3. Sign and notarize the deed – The grantor must sign the deed and a notary public or equivalent official must acknowledge the grantor’s signature in order to be valid.

4. File the deed in the county land records – Soon after it is signed and notarized, the deed should be filed in the Register of Deeds of the county where the property is located.

**Signing any Deed can significantly affect your legal rights. Always consult an Attorney before signing.**

Let Vanguard Help You Navigate Your Real Estate Transaction


While you may have many questions pertaining to your real estate transaction, you can count on Vanguard Title to walk alongside you from start to finish. We can refer you to real estate attorneys who can expertly assist with handling your deed at reasonable rates. Our team of experienced professionals is here to help you navigate the complexities of buying, selling or transferring real property, giving you priceless peace of mind.


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