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What is a Special Warranty Deed?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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When it comes to purchasing real property, there are a number of different types of deeds that may be tendered. A deed is a legal document that confers ownership, and there are three main types: the quitclaim deed, the general warranty deed and the special warranty deed. A special warranty deed is a statutory concept that confers ownership in real property with a limited number of assurances about the seller's ownership in the property being conveyed.

When buying real property, title is often transferred with some assurances as to the validity of that title. Quitclaim deeds provide no assurances — they convey whatever interest the seller actually had in the property irrespective of what was conveyed, verbally for example, to the buyer in the sale process. Other causes of action, like misrepresentation, may be available to the buyer, but the title that is conveyed will simply be what the owner actually had at the time of the sale.

A general warranty deed is usually the ideal type of deed from the buyer's perspective. It comes with five "usual covenants for title," which include the covenant of seisin, the covenant of the right to convey, the covenant against encumbrances, the covenant for quiet enjoyment, and the covenant of warranty. A sixth covenant, the covenant for further assurances, is usually included in general warranty deeds though it's not considered an usual covenant for title.

The quantity of assurances of a special warranty deed lies in between its quitclaim and general warranty alternatives. For this reason, it may also be called a limited warranty deed. The concept is created statutorily, and therefore the specifics of this type of deed may vary among US states. What such deeds include may also vary based on the particular terms of a particular special warranty contract.

Generally speaking, these deeds only protect the buyer from defects in the title caused by the seller, and they do not assure the buyer that defects in the title that were caused by previous owners will be corrected. In other words, special warranty deeds only include the covenant of seisin, the covenant of the right to convey, and the covenant against encumbrances caused by the seller. The other four covenants for title included in general warranty deeds, as well as any encumbrances caused by people other than the seller, are not usually included.

Since such deeds are limited in the assurances they provide, sellers in these transactions are not responsible for correcting title defects or any visible or invisible encumbrances that were present when the seller initially received the property. They may be used in any number of circumstances, but they are most commonly employed in property transactions where the seller did not own or occupy the property for a significant period of time.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon274661 — On Jun 12, 2012

I purchased some land three years ago and paid with a check. The seller never gave me the deed so I went to a lawyer and they did a warranty deed. I had it witnessed, notarized and recorded. Then three years later, he went under foreclosure and someone else bought the land and wants me to pay for it.

By anon267853 — On May 11, 2012

I am in the process of buying a bank owned property. The bank says it will give only a special warranty deed, not the general deed. Is this OK? My realtor says that's how foreclosed properties are dealt with. Is this right?

By anon127759 — On Nov 17, 2010

My soon-to-be ex husband and I purchased a house in Texas. He pastors a church. We deeded the property to the church for tax exemption purposes. four years later, we refinanced the property, and the church deeded the property back to us.

After refinancing property, my ex signed the property back to the church, but I never signed the deed. Do I still have ownership of the property?

By anon114203 — On Sep 27, 2010

To anon58403: Anon did your mother render property annually in which to be liable for property taxes? If she did not and you're paying property taxes and this is private property, one question: why are you paying it?

Please learn the Texas Tax Code. Look for references online referring to The Texas Attorney General, Texas municipalities, etc., making reference to rendering agreements, or legally rendered private property.

What you don't know is draining everyone financially. Stop running with the herd and learn the law!

By anon99495 — On Jul 26, 2010

Nice info. Very thorough and easy to soak in.

By anon93033 — On Jul 01, 2010

my grandma died four years ago and had land in her name in texas. she did not make a will but law stated that her husband got half of the land and her four kids shared the other half. well, my dad was one of her four kids and he died seven months before his mom did. i have a sister and brother.

we three had just received a special warranty deed in the mail from our aunt's lawyer. we never knew anything about any of this so it freaked us out when we received this in the mail. from what we have learned is that my dad's share went to us since he died but why are we just now knowing about it?

Why is one out of three of my aunts trying to get us to freely sign over this to her? What about our grandpa and other two aunts? Me, my brother and sister all live in louisiana and we would rather sell our land to our aunt if she wants it. how can we find out what our land is appraised for and what is the cost of our property taxes?

By anon61815 — On Jan 22, 2010

Warranty in the term Special Warranty Deed has nothing to do with the soundness or function of structures or systems on a property. Rather it refers to a warranty of the validity of title to the property. The warranty in a Special Warranty Deed is made by the grantor (or seller) that he or she has done nothing during his or her period of ownership to compromise the quality of the title conveyed. A General Warranty Deed would be considered superior (at least from the buyer's standpoint) in that it is a warranty that the title remains uncompromised all the way back to the time the parcel being sold was first created, not just during the current owner's tenure.

By anon58403 — On Jan 01, 2010

I reside in Texas. My elderly mother signed over the deed to her house in 2005 to me and my sister. She is now wanting to execute a Special Warranty Deed on her residence. If we decide to sign the Special Warranty Deed are we responsible for paying the property taxes? If not, is my mother still eligible to keep paying a lower tax rate because of her age and homestead exemption?

By askcom — On Jun 09, 2009

Please advise. Soon to be ex husband sold his business properties acquired during our marriage. It is on a special warranty deed and both properties sold for $10.00. Yes, ten dollars. It is 1/2 acre of land w/o any houses. He sold it to his boss. Anyone input besides "trying to hide it from his soon to be ex wife"? Why a special warranty deed was used compared to other deed of sale? Any feedback will be appreciated. Thank you.

By anon28977 — On Mar 25, 2009

I signed a special warranty deed to sell my home to an individual that was going to assume my loan. Am I legally obligated to continue with the sale of the home if I have changed my mind?

The assumption package has not been turned into my mortgage company and the person has only paid three mortgage payments.

What legal recourse do I have in this matter?

By sourappleblowpop — On Apr 01, 2008


i'm sure you'll still have to qualify to assume the loan, or get a new loan in your name to fully release your parents from financial liability. the bank will still want somebody to take responsibility for making the house payment!

By bjop05 — On Apr 01, 2008

A friend of the family has a house they want out of before foreclosure. They have offered to sell the house to me for what they owe, however, I cannot qualify with my credit. Therefore, my parents have offered to buy the house but want to deed it over to me and be free of any financial responsibility. Is a special warranty deed something that can be done so i can assume ownership and they can be free and clear of any responsibility or liability?

By mdt — On Mar 09, 2008

You may be able to get a title company in Texas to represent your interests and handle the issue for you, depending on local regulations that apply. Ask the title company that you are currently working with if they have any associates in Texas that they would recommend.

By mdoll — On Feb 18, 2008

I bought a lot in texas with a 810 sq ft house in an online auction with the title to be transferred at close of sale by the seller. then I was informed that there title comp could not transfer it and they refunded the fee. I went to my title comp in another state where I live and they stated they could not transfer or record title. It is a warranty deed. can you help resolve this issue without having to go to texas which they say I have to.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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