What Are All the Types of Property Deeds in Pennsylvania?

property deeds

A property deed does a lot of different things. They’re known for being a way to transfer ownership of real estate property from one owner to another. Most of the time, they serve as official written proof that someone owns a property. A Pennsylvania property deed must contain the current owner (the grantor), the new owner (the grantee), a legal description of the property, and the signature of the grantor before the transfer. But there are also less common ways to use property, which require several different types of property deeds.

If you’re unsure as to what types of property deeds you can or should use, the real estate attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam can help. Contact us today.

The Different Types of Pennsylvania Property Deeds

The different types of property deeds are usually separated by what kind of promise the grantor makes to the grantee. These promises include checks and confirmations of the validity of the grantor’s ownership, their ability to sell the property, and promises that there is nothing that a title search checks for, like liens, easements, and missing heirs. In Pennsylvania, there are four accepted types of deeds and a fifth type that is just a misunderstanding.

The General Warranty Deed

This is the most general and basic type of property deed. You can meet most people’s needs with the General Warranty deed. In these, the grantor makes several promises to defend against general claims against the property. This means that if someone claims to have superior rights to the grantor, the grantor will be legally bound to fight these claims.

Because grantors can only do so much research, there’s still the chance that someone will claim to have greater ownership over the property than the grantor. As slim as the chances are that a lost heir will appear out of nowhere, a grantor may not accept this type of deed.

The Fiduciary Deed

If a property is overseen by the executor or administrator of an estate or trust, that person isn’t handling the property based on their desires. They have to abide by the instructions set by the state or trust, which would be considered their fiduciary duty. To showcase their responsibility and legal right to oversee the property, they are given a fiduciary deed.

A fiduciary deed implies several things about any sale between the estate/trust and a grantee:

  • The grantor/estate/trust agent likely does not have intimate knowledge of the property
  • The grantor/estate/trust agent likely does not have intimate knowledge of the owner’s intentions or decisions regarding the building

The Quit Claim Deed

Among all the types of property deeds that Pennsylvania accepts, this one favors the grantor the most. In Quit Claim deeds, the grantor passes all levels of ownership to the grantee, even if it’s proven that they may not have had the rights to sell the property in the first place.

If a title search misses anything, and the purchase goes through, the grantee is on the hook for any costs or issues that may arise, not the grantor. In most cases, if the grantor only offers this type of deed, it’s commonly a sign that something suspicious is going on.

The Special Warranty Deed

While the General Warranty deed is the most general, the Special Warranty deed is the most common type of property deed in Pennsylvania. It doesn’t put all the responsibility for title issues post-sale on the grantor or grantee. Rather, it splits responsibility between them.

Instead, the grantor will defend against claims of superior ownership, but only if they are making the claims against the grantor’s ability to sell the property. This covers most of what a grantee would want to hold the grantor responsible for while also leaving room for extraneous exceptions that a grantor could never predict.

Warranty Deed

Warranty deeds are not an actual type of deed. This term is shorthand for General Warranty deeds and Special Warranty deeds. You could say that warranty deeds are two types of deeds, but this would only be considered slang or shorthand.

Contact MVSK for Help with Your Pennsylvania Property Deeds

Nothing is simple when it comes to real estate property in Pennsylvania. There are several types of documents to complete for every part of the purchasing process. Instead of trying to do it yourself, and risking doing something wrong, let the real estate attorneys at MVSK Law know. If you’re dealing with a fiduciary deed, we even have estate planning attorneys to help. We’re always available to schedule a consultation. Contact us today.

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