Deeds to Real Property

A deed is a document used by the owner of real property to transfer or convey the right, title, and interest to the property. A deed can transfer ownership to part of an interest, and must be in writing.  The person transferring the property is called the “grantor” and the person receiving it is called the “grantee.”  The amount of money given in exchange for the property is called the “consideration.”  

The grantor must be of sound mind and be over 18 years of age; otherwise, the court can later void the transaction or determine that it was invalid.  In addition, the deed must meet the following requirements: 

  • identify the grantor and grantee; 
  • recite the consideration (although the deed usually states only a nominal amount like $10.00, not the actual amount being given in exchange for the property); 
  • include a granting clause that uses words showing the property is being transferred, such as “I hereby grant, covenant and demise”; 
  • identify the real property, usually by giving the legal description; and 
  • be signed and acknowledged by the grantor. 

The legal description of the land being transferred is an exact description that will be accepted by the courts. In New York, land is generally described in “metes-and-bounds,” which is a description that uses boundaries and measurements to accurately describe the piece of land being transferred. However, property can also be defined by municipal tax block and lot numbers. If the deed is going to be recorded in the county clerk’s office, it must include the addresses of both the grantor and the grantee. The deed also must be delivered to the grantee and the grantee must accept it, in order to transfer the property.  

In New York, there are several different types of deeds, depending on what rights are being transferred and who is transferring the rights. The most common types of deeds include:  

Deed with Full Covenants – also called a General Warranty Deed; it provides the most protection for the grantee because the grantor is promising that:  

  • he or she is the owner of the property and has the right to sell it;  
  • the property is free from any liens or encumbrances unless specifically identified in the deed;  
  • the grantee’s title is good against anyone who challenges it; and  
  • the grantor will be liable if title is not good. 

Bargain and Sale Deed with Covenant – also called a Limited Warranty Deed; it offers the second most protection to the grantee. The grantor promises he or she has title to the property and has done nothing to encumber the property while he or she owned it.   

Bargain and Sale Deed – offers no covenants and very little protection for the grantee. It contains no promises or warranties by the grantor. The grantor implies that he or she has title to the property, but if it turns out the grantor does not have good title, the grantee cannot sue the grantor.   

Executor’s or Administrator’s Deed – offers the same protection as a Bargain and Sale Deed with Covenants, and is used to transfer property in a deceased person’s estate to their heirs. The executor’s deed is used when the decedent died with a Will, and the administrator’s deed is used when the decedent died without a Will. 

Quitclaim Deed – provides the grantee with the least protection; it contains no promises or warranties, and only conveys whatever title and interest the grantor has. The grantor is basically saying that the grantor might have an interest in the property and they are transferring the interest the grantor might have. This type of deed is generally used between family members or in a divorce situation.

 Legal Editors: Terrence Dunn and Ira H. Goldfarb, July 2017

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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