A question we receive quite frequently in our office is, what is the difference between a general warranty deed, special warranty deed, and quit claim deed? The simplest answer is that each deed conveys a different scope of title assurance.
The general warranty deed conveys the most title assurance and is the most commonly used deed in the sale of property in Florida. A general warranty deed warrants that title is free from any claims that arose during the grantor’s possession or the possession of anyone who owned the land prior to the current grantor. When the grantor conveys property via a general warranty deed, the grantor is saying that he or she owns the property, has the right to convey the property, there are no encumbrances on the property, the grantee will not be disturbed in the use of the property, and the grantor will defend against all claims to title that may arise in the future from prior owners.
A special warranty deed, on the other hand warrants a smaller scope of assurances in Florida, and is most commonly used in commercial transactions. A special warranty deed provides many of the same protections mentioned above, but only warrants against claims which arose during the grantor’s possession of the property. That is, if a claim arose prior to the grantor’s ownership of the property, a buyer is without recourse against the grantor because the grantor did not warrant any protection for claims which may have arose prior to his possession of the property.
Lastly, a quitclaim deed gives no warranties to the buyer. A quitclaim deed releases whatever interest the grantor may have, if any, in the subject property. That is to say, someone can quitclaim their interest in a piece of property to you, even if they don’t have an ownership interest in it, and you would be without recourse against them for any claims. Quitclaim deeds are not uncommon however, they are used most frequently when attempting to cure title defects or clear title to a piece of property. As always, it is important to contact an attorney when considering the sale or purchase of a piece of real estate. It is important to understand what assurances you are conveying and what protections you are receiving as a result of your purchase.