When you buy a house, you want to make sure you get the right deed to the property. You can buy a house with a contract for deed, also called a quitclaim deed, but that only gives you whatever ownership the seller has in the property. If there's a loan, you may have to assume that, too. The best deed is a general warranty deed, which puts the title in your name.
Warranty Is Protection
A general warranty deed protects you against future problems with the title to the house or such things as back taxes and unpaid repair bills. The seller warrants, or guarantees, that he has a clear title to the house and that there are no unpaid loans or other bills.
You Get Clear, Protected Title
A general warranty deed gives you a clear title to the house, subject to any mortgage or loan you may take out. A general warranty deed also protects you from future claims, such as a third-party later claiming some ownership. The seller's warranty obligates him for all expenses from such situations and your interest is totally protected.
Special Warranty in Some Cases
In a few cases, you may get a special warranty deed. This gives you clear title and the seller warrants or guarantees you against any defects in the property title stemming from the time the seller owned it. It does not protect you, however, against any claims that pre-date the seller's ownership as a general warranty does. With a general warranty, you're protected even if some previous owner now claims the title; a special warranty only covers the current seller's title.
Check Your State
Check your specific state laws on warranty deeds since there are some exceptions. Most general warranty deeds cover both immediate and future problems. Most require, for instance, that the seller provide any documents needed in the future to fix a problem with the title. However, Ohio is an example of a state that does not recognize this covenant or warranty.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.