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What Is a Quitclaim Deed and When Would I Need One?

Real Estate Attorneys Houston, TX

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You may encounter a situation where you need to transfer a property without going through a sales process or when you know the sellers involved. A quitclaim deed gives you a way to move your ownership interest quickly to another person, such as a family member. Typical scenarios involving this type of deed include parents gifting their children a house, one-half of a divorced couple getting rid of their interest, a new spouse getting added to the deed or when an estate goes to an heir after a death. You need to understand the real estate law basics concerning a quitclaim deed before you decide on using it instead of other property deeds.

Differences From Other Deeds

All deeds help a grantor move property ownership to the grantee, but they take different approaches to the process. The most common type you see in real estate is called the warranty deed, which you use in a typical house buying process. This deed confirms the grantor is the legal owner of the property and that no liens exist on the title. Title insurance and a title search give you the reassurance that no one else can claim this property after you gain ownership.

The quitclaim does not give you the same protection, which is why most people avoid using this document unless you already know the grantee. Quitclaims don’t take as long to process since you skip the insurance and search, but you also don’t get any confirmation that the grantor actually holds ownership. You could end up in a situation where someone else has a title claim, and you didn’t get anything conveyed with the deed.

Quitclaim deeds also function as a way to fix title defects without going through an extended process. Add signatures, correct the legal description of your property or make other small changes using this type of deed.

Quitclaim Deed Process in Houston, Texas

If you decide that a quitclaim deed is the right choice for your property transaction, you must go through a specific process to record this deed in Houston, Texas. The first step is creating a quitclaim document that lists the grantor, grantee, the description of the property in this transaction and a statement that the grantor conveys any property rights to the listed grantee. The names and addresses of both parties should be listed on this document.

Once this document is witnessed by two people and signed, you take it to the Harris County Clerk’s Office to record it. While you don’t need to transfer money to execute the quitclaim deed, you do need to pay for the recording. Determine which party is going to handle this cost before the transfer. The first page of the quitclaim deed costs $16, while any subsequent pages add $4 per page onto the price.

Harris County’s courthouse does not offer a standardized document for quitclaim deeds. While you can find templates online, you may forget to add critical details that could cause additional recording costs or legal trouble down the road. Consider reaching out to professionals with a background in real estate law to help you with this process. A quitclaim deed offers you an inexpensive and fast way to work with grantors and grantees you already know, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need help from people experienced with this type of document.