The Deed in a Residential Real Estate Sale

The Deed in a Residential Real Estate Sale

A transfer of land from a seller to a buyer must be accomplished through written documentation in order to satisfy requirements of the Statute of Frauds. Typically, real estate transactions involve many written documents from the offer, which is usually in the form of a contract to purchase, to the deed.

A present intent to transfer title to a buyer

The deed is the written instrument by which title is transferred to the buyer. By the deed, the seller shows that he has a present intent to transfer the title. To show a present intent, the deed may contain words such as “give,” “grant,” “sell,” “convey,” or any other words which convey the meaning of a present intent to transfer title to the buyer. The deed should clearly identify the buyer or the person who is taking title on behalf of the buyer if the property is being placed into a trust.

Signed by the seller

The deed must be signed by the seller. Although it is not necessary for the buyer to sign, the buyer’s signature shows that the buyer has acknowledged and accepted the deed. An acknowledged deed is a self-authenticating document that can be recorded or admitted into evidence in a court of law.

Description of the property to be transferred

The deed should contain a description of the property to be transferred. The description itself does not have to contain any magic words in order to be effective, so long as it accurately describes the property. The description may be made by metes and bounds, by reference to a recorded document, an address, or a legal description. However, the more accurately the property is described, the less likely there will be any doubt or ambiguity as to which property, or portion of that property, the seller intends to transfer.

Effective upon delivery

A deed is not effective until it has been delivered by the seller. The deed does not have to be physically handed over to the buyer in order to be effective, although the physical transfer of the deed would be conclusive of the seller’s intent to transfer the property. Ordinarily, all that is needed is the seller’s intent to deliver the deed to the buyer. The seller may deposit the deed with the buyer, with an escrow agent, or with a trustee for the buyer’s benefit. In any of these formats, delivery of the deed is effective only if the seller has the present intent to transfer the property to the buyer.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.