A deed as a transfer

Real estate is conveyed when title is transferred from one individual to another. [Calif. Civil Code §1039]

The transfer of an interest in title to real estate contained in a writing is called a grant or conveyance, no matter the form of writing. [CC §1053]

The individual conveying real estate is called the grantor. For example, the seller of a property. The individual acquiring title is called the grantee. For example, the buyer.

A deed is itself the grant which transfers title to property. Thus, the document used to structure this is properly called a grant deed. [Hamilton v. Hubbard (1901) 134 C 603; see RPI Form 404]

The grant deed is used by agents, escrow officers and owners to transfer an interest in real estate.

In contrast to a grant deed, a quitclaim deed conveys whatever interest, if any, the grantor may hold in the real estate. [See RPI Form 405]

To be valid, either a grant deed or quitclaim deed needs to:

  • be in writing;
  • identify the grantor, i.e., the one who is conveying property, and the grantee, i.e., the one who the interest is being conveyed to;
  • contain a granting clause stating the grantor’s intention to convey;
  • adequately describe the real estate involved;
  • be signed by the grantor; and
  • be handed to and accepted by the grantee.

When ownership of a property is transferred by deed, title passes either:

  • voluntarily by agreement with the owner, as in a sale in the open market; or
  • involuntarily without agreement, such as the enforcement of a creditor’s judgment or tax lien.

Fee simple ownership is presumed to pass by a grant of real estate, unless a lesser possessory interest is stated, such as an easement, life estate or leasehold interest. A fee simple interest in real estate is the absolute ownership of the possessory rights in the real estate for an indefinite duration. [CC §1105]