The document that legally conveys an interest in real estate from one individual to another is referred to as a “deed.” Every state has specific laws and requirements for valid deeds and, if you are involved in a real estate transaction, you should always seek guidance of an experienced deed & real estate attorney in Seattle or Tacoma, WA who has a thorough understanding of Washington real estate laws. If you have any questions regarding the legal issues of real estate, call the office of Dickson Frohlich today in Seattle at (206) 621-1110 or in Tacoma at (253) 572-1000 for assistance.
Requirements for a Washington Deed
There are certain basic requirement for a valid deed under Washington law,1 including the following:
- Must be in writing
- Must contain a legally accurate description of the property (an address alone is insufficient)
- The grantor (the individual granting the property interest to another, i.e. the seller) must sign the deed and have it notarized.
Though these requirements may seem relatively simple, you should always have an attorney review the deed in order to ensure the transaction is valid.
Common Types of Deeds
The following are the most commonly used types of deeds, which are set out by statute.
In a warranty deed,2 the seller of the property provides a guaranty (a warranty) that the title to the real estate is clear with no liens or encumbrances, and that the seller has the legal right to sell the property.
Bargain and Sale Deed
This type of deed is similar to a warranty deed, however only makes guarantees to the buyer regarding the period of time the seller owned the property. This type of title makes no guarantees regarding liens or encumbrances that may exist prior to the time the seller acquired the property. This type of deed is most often used by banks following a foreclosure of a property.
A quitclaim deed3 simply transfers ownership of the real estate to another party and ends (“quits”) the grantor’s right to claim interest in the property. This type of deed makes no guarantees as to the status of the property title and, therefore, is not commonly used in traditional real estate purchase transactions. Instead, it is often used when a family member gifts a piece of property to another or following a divorce when one former spouse gives their ownership interest to the other.