Understanding Property Deeds and Protecting Your Ownership Rights

I. A Brief Overview of Real Estate Transactions

Thinking of purchasing, selling, or gifting a piece of real estate property in Florida without hiring an attorney*? Think again! The type of deed you obtain or prepare has some different advantages and drawbacks you should be aware of. This article explains the different kinds of deeds that are used to transfer property to a new owner during a real estate transaction and the ownership rights that come with each deed.

Back in the 1500’s** claiming real estate ownership was very hostile. While real estate transactions have progressively improved over the past few centuries, there are times where heated disputes still arise during the process. In many instances, these disagreements tend to come up when another person claims to have an interest in the property you are trying to purchase, sell or give away to a friend, loved one, business, or charitable organization. If you understand the type of deed you’re giving or receiving, then you will know in advance the risks and benefits that come with each deed.

Familiarizing yourself with the following real estate terms and definitions will help you understand the different types of deeds and the ownership rights transferred during a real estate transaction:

1. Chain of Title – history of ownership

2. Clear Title – the property is free and clear of encumbrances, liens, and levies from creditors and other parties


* Real estate attorney Kimberly Soto’s experience includes representing buyers and sellers in residential real estate transactions, representing investors in the purchase and sale of hotels, apartments, condominiums, single-family homes, shopping centers, subdivision and mobile-home developments. It also includes drafting purchase and sale agreements as well as reviewing and identifying issues contained in contracts, title, and loan underwriting. For more information, review the "Real Estate Must Know" playlist contained on The Soto Law Office, P.A. YouTube Channel.

** For a history of land ownership in Florida, review “European Exploration and Colonization.”


3. Convey –to transfer or pass on to another

4. Covenant – a promise in a written real property contract or deed (e.g., a covenant of warranty guarantees the title to the property is free of any claims against it)

5. Deed – a legal document used to convey interest in real estate property from one person or entity to another

6. Encumbrance – any claim, limitation or liability upon a property that restricts an owner from transferring clear title

7. Interest in real estate – a person's or entity's entitlements in a property

8. Grantee – the person (usually Buyer) taking the title (ownership) or interest in a property

9. Grantor – the person (usually Seller) conveying an interest in a property to another person

10. Real property (also known as real estate) – a piece of land along with anything growing, affixed to, or built on it

11. Recording - submitting documents to the appropriate County Recorders or Recorder of Deeds office for recordation in the public records

12. Warranties – a written statement where a seller guarantees to a buyer his or her right to transfer ownership and ensures no one else has an entitlement to the property

II. Deed Types and Their Respective Benefits & Drawbacks

A Warranty Deed provides the Grantor an opportunity to warrant to the Grantee that there are no issues with the real property. For example, the Grantor may warrant that there are no title defects with the real estate, or the Grantor may warrant that the Grantor has the right to convey the real property to the Grantee.

A Special Warranty Deed provides the Grantor an opportunity to warrant to the Grantee that there are no issues with the real property since the Grantor ob