Purposes of Quitclaim, Trustee's & Sheriff's Deeds

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

While deeds are used to convey real estate, not all deeds are created equal from the standpoint of a purchaser. In this lesson, you'll learn about quitclaim, trustee's and sheriff's deeds. A short quiz follows the lesson.

The Type of Deed Matters

While Shakespeare may be correct that 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,' the bard's insight does not hold true of deeds. A purchaser should know what type of deed is going to be conveyed before agreeing to a purchase. Some deeds are more beneficial to buyers than others. As you may recall, a deed is a legal document used to convey real estate from one person (the grantor) to another (the grantee). In warranty deeds, the grantor not only conveys title to the property but also provides covenants for title, which are basically guarantees relating to the title to the real estate. However, in this lesson we'll be learning about deeds that offer no such assurances. You can think of these deeds as documents which convey real property to buyers 'as-is'; they offer no guarantees about the titles received.

Quitclaim Deeds

A quitclaim deed conveys to the grantee whatever title, claim or interest that the grantor may have in the real estate. There are no covenants for title included in a quitclaim deed. In other words, the deed purports to transfer whatever interest the grantor has in the property but makes no guarantees about what the grantor actually has. Let's look at an example.

Dan receives a conveyance of 20 acres of property from Elaine by quitclaim deed. Dan finds out after the purchase that Elaine's neighbor actually acquired 10 of the 20 acres of Elaine's property by adverse possession prior to Dan's purchase. Since Dan only received a quitclaim deed, he has no recourse against Elaine based upon the deed, though he may be able to pursue other claims in court, such as unjust enrichment or fraud if Elaine knew she didn't have title.

Sheriff's Deeds

If you buy property at a judicial foreclosure sale, you'll get a sheriff's deed. Since these sales are involuntary, the property owner isn't conveying the deed but rather a sheriff under a judicial foreclosure. Judicial foreclosures are court-supervised real estate sales.

One example of a judicial sale is a county tax sale. When a homeowner fails to pay county property taxes for an extended period of time, a county sheriff could seize the home. The property will then be sold to the highest bidder at a public auction. The sheriff's deed conveys the ownership rights of the property to the winner of the foreclosure auction. In this instance, the deed functions more or less as a quitclaim deed. The date on the buyer's sheriff's deed (or receipt from the tax sale) starts the clock for the owner's right of statutory redemption. Statutory redemption gives the defaulted borrower whose property has been sold the right to reclaim the property within a certain period of time by paying the price paid at the foreclosure sale plus certain allowable charges and expenses. If the right of redemption is exercised, the borrower gets the property back and the person who bought the property at the auction gets a refund. However, it's important to note that not all states have enacted statutory redemption rights.

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