Use of a common address or legal description to sufficiently describe the property being conveyed

A deed conveying property needs to sufficiently describe the property being conveyed. The description in the deed is necessary so the property can be reasonably located. If the property cannot be located from the description, the conveyance is void. [Scott v. Woodworth (1917) 34 CA 400]

The description of a parcel in a deed needs to be sufficient to allow the real estate conveyed to be identified and located with reasonable certainty by a surveyor. [Best v. Wohlford (1904) 144 C 733]

Facts not stated in the deed, known as extrinsic evidence, may only be used when an ambiguity arises as to the description of the property conveyed.

However, extrinsic evidence may not be used to supply the deed with a missing description or correct a defective description.

For example, real estate is conveyed by a deed describing the property as the “Occidental Mill Site, containing 4.95 acres, being a fraction of lot 2…” The use of the real estate’s common name in the deed is sufficient to locate the boundaries and identify the real estate being conveyed. [Calif. Civil Code §1092]

Additionally, a deed which describes real estate by its street address, such as “879 Riverside Avenue, Riverside, CA 92507,” will be considered sufficient to identify the real estate located at the street address, sometimes called a common description or common address. [Brudvig v. Renner (1959) 172 CA2d 522]

However, the deed best includes the property’s legal description or a map designation, such as a parcel or lot number, which contains the metes and bounds description needed to locate with certainty the parcel being conveyed.

Thus, the real estate can be described by reference to other documents, such as a subdivision map as it contains the metes and bounds description of the parcel. The document referenced in a deed is incorporated into the deed as the source of the metes and bounds description of the property conveyed. [Edwards v. Lewis (1938) 25 CA2d 168]

The grantor’s signature

To transfer real estate by a deed, the deed needs to be signed by the grantor named in the deed. [CC §1091]

A deed can also be signed on behalf of the grantor by the grantor’s agent if the agent is authorized in writing to convey the property on the grantor’s behalf. The agent is called an attorney in fact and is operating under a power of attorney. [CC §1091; see RPI Form 447]

Additionally, a deed can be signed in the name of the grantor by an amanuensis as orally instructed by the grantor. An amanuensis is an individual who has the oral authority of the grantor to sign a grant deed by their own hand on behalf of the grantor.

Unlike an attorney in fact who is an agent with discretionary authority to determine whether they are to enter into a deed without prior approval from the grantor, an amanuensis has a purely ministerial duty. The amanuensis signs a document as instructed without exercising personal discretion or judgment.