Rick BissonThe cashier at the grocery store hands a customer a receipt to provide proof and verification of the items purchased, the price for each and the total. A car dealer generates a bill of sale when someone purchases a new or used vehicle.

This bill of sale will include the purchase price of the vehicle, the vehicle year, make and model, vehicle identification number and the name of the buyer and seller.

In real estate, a deed is the legal receipt for the transference of real property from a seller (the grantor) to the new owner (the grantee). A deed is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right, or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed.

In their most basic form, deeds contain: the names of the respective parties, a description of the property involved and the signature of the person transferring the subject property. There is no legal requirement for a specific deed format, provided the essential elements are included.

The most common means of conveying property jointly are, 1) single ownership, 2) tenants in common, 3) joint tenants, and 4) tenants by the entirety. In single ownership, property is owned entirely by one person.

A property transferred as tenants in common, allows unequal shares of the property and can define who the property interest goes to upon the owner’s passing. Joint tenants take the property in equal shares, and shares will automatically pass to the other co-owners upon an owner’s death. Tenants by the entirety is a form of spousal property, where each spouse owns the whole property and cannot transfer his or her right to the whole property without the consent of the other tenant.

There are also several different types of deeds including: warranty, quitclaim and special purpose deeds. A warranty deed offers the grantee the most protection. It says the grantor or seller will defend any and all claims against the title and protects the grantee against title defects arising at any point in time, extending back to the property’s origins.

Quitclaim deeds convey only that interest in the property in which the grantor has title, providing no guarantees about the extent of the person’s interest. A quitclaim with covenant says the grantor will stand behind and defend the title against claims since they have owned the property and not before.

There are also personal representative deeds, trustee deeds, release deeds, municipal deeds for variations of conveyances serving different purposes, with limitations, and guarantees that vary.

Provided within the deed is also a detailed description of the property. Land sold, granted, or parceled out in the original 13 colonies was surveyed and described with the metes-and-bounds surveying system.

In this system, property descriptions contain several types of information: 1) survey lines consisting of a direction and a distance, 2) descriptions of the natural features encountered along the boundaries of the property, and 3) the names of abutting property owners.

To describe land by metes-and-bounds is to have a known landmark for a place of beginning, and then follow a line according to the compass, or the course of a stream, or track of road. Here is an example.

Beginning at a point on the west side of the foot path leading to town road; thence N 66° 00’ W by face of ledge sixty-four feet (64 feet) more or less to tidewater of the Narrows, so-called; thence northerly along shore of Narrows to land now or formerly of Wilson A. Smith; thence S 56° 15’ E forty-nine feet (49 feet), more or less, to west side of foot path heretofore mentioned; thence S 18° 15’ E fifty-four and one-half feet (541/2’) to point of beginning.

Having a clear and thorough understanding of the elements in a deed is critical. This legal document defines who owns the property, the type of ownership and a description of the property boundaries. The deed is a homeowners receipt for their property and protects their ownership rights. Be certain to consult with a trusted, expert Realtor and title attorney about the deed when selling, buying or investing in real estate.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.

filed under: