What’s in a Deed?
The deed to a parcel of property may be the most important piece of paper someone holds. This is proof that they own their house, the land it sits on, and what that land includes. Yet many people aren’t quite sure what it all means.
Recording a deed or other document makes it public record. It also puts everyone “on notice” as to the owner of the property. Book and Page information is a holdover from pre-electronic days of physical Registry Books. Anyone can search through a Registry and trace the ownership of any piece of property. All one needs is at least one name or Book and Page reference to start with.
Grantor and Grantee
The Grantor is the seller and the Grantee is the buyer. Their mailing information is included to further confirm identity. If there are multiple Grantees, they can take ownership as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” (JTROS) or as “tenants in common”. These offer distinct and separate benefits. JTROS means that 2 or more people own an undivided 100% interest in the property. If one person dies, the other assumes their interest automatically. Tenants in common is the default in New Hampshire. This means that each grantee owns a divided interest in the property. If one person dies their interest goes to their estate.
Type of covenants: warranty v. quitclaim, fiduciary, foreclosure
There are multiple types of covenants. All types give varying levels of “guaranty” to the Grantee as to the Grantor’s ability to defend their claim to title. A Warranty Deed is the strongest title. A Quitclaim deed offers no guaranty of title, and simply conveys whatever rights, if any, the grantor has to the grantee. Fiduciary deeds are used to convey property out of an estate. Foreclosure deeds are used by a mortgage company after a foreclosure.
It is always wise to have a title search performed when purchasing land to ensure against title defects or other potential interests.
This is a general location of the property, naming the Town or City and County in which the parcel is located, often giving the street name or other identifying information.
Parcel description, metes and bounds
This is the actual description of the boundaries of the property. This is perhaps the most important part of a deed. The best descriptions use “metes and bounds” or directions and distances to outline the property. The description often uses surveyor pins or other easily identified landmarks like trees, large rocks, and stone walls to describe the boundary. The more specific the description, the better. When buying a property, either hire a surveyor or at least walk the boundary using these metes and bounds so that you know what you are purchasing. In addition, by doing this you won’t be relying on incorrect information from others’ assumption or recollection.
Covenants and restrictions
This is an important section, indicating if there are any restrictions to the use of the property, if there are any easements to others located on the property, or if there is an easement for the use of the property. Once properly granted, covenants and restrictions do not need to be included a deed to be binding. Here again a title search is important to uncovering any forgotten rights of others to use the property.
Meaning and intending
This section, which usually begins “Meaning and intending to convey…” helps with tracing the title and describes how the Grantor came to own the property.
In New Hampshire, a person may only have one homestead or primary residence. Homestead helps protect your primary residence in a number of situations, including bankruptcy, divorce, and Medicare.
Most conveyances of real estate are taxed at the time of recording. However, certain types of conveyances are either exempt or are subject to a minimum. If your conveyance is exempt, it will be indicated at the end of the deed.
Date and signature block, notary
New Hampshire is a race-notice state. This means that conveyance occurs at the time of signing, and that a deed does not strictly need to be recorded to be valid. However, if there are competing deeds and one is recorded and the other is not then the recorded deed “wins”. If multiple deeds to a property are signed the same day, then the order of recording matters. The Grantor signs the deed, and the notary is there as witness.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.