How to Transfer a Real Estate Deed

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The exchange of money does not automatically change the ownership of a property. Even if you sign a real estate sales agreement, the ownership is not legally transferred until a new deed is recorded in the name of the new owner. Real estate ownership is transferred when the deed to the property is property transferred and recorded within the public records.

Determine what type of deed to use based on how the title is conveyed. If the property is being sold, a grant deed or warranty deed should be used. A grant deed or warranty deed conveys the title with the guarantee that no other person has the right to claim ownership of the property. If the owner of the property wishes to add or remove someone to the title, a quitclaim deed is the preferred option. A quitclaim deed is used when the previous owners offer no promise that it is "clear and unencumbered from other claims" of ownership.

Determine who the grantees of the deed will be. If the grantee is a trust, request to review the certificate of trust or abstract of the trust before the transfer. If the grantee is a business entity, a certificate of formation or article of incorporation should be reviewed. If the surviving spouse intends to be the grantee, a certified copy of the death certificate is required.

Order a title search from a title company. A title search will uncover the chain of title by listing all of the previous owners to ensure no claims of ownership interest in the title exist while ensuring that the current owner is, in fact, the legal owner of the title to be transferred.

Sign the deed in the presence of a Notary. Both the grantor and grantees are required to have their signatures notarized in order for the transfer to be considered valid.

Record the deed with the county recorder. A recording fee will be required, typically charged on a per page basis. If any real estate taxes are delinquent, full payment is due at the time of recording as well.

Obtain a certified copy of the recorded deed from the county recorded. An instrument number or recording book and page number will be assigned and imprinted on the document. Make sure to provide copies to all grantees, and retain a recorded copy for future use.


  • It can take some time for your deed to show up in county real estate records, but the transfer will be considered complete when the deed is recorded.