If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How can I sell my house with a quitclaim deed,” this article is for you. Florida homeowners who received their property through a quitclaim deed are often uncertain of how (or whether) this will impact their future home sale. Beyond this, many property owners aren’t sure what a “quitclaim deed” is to begin with. Though the term is a common source of confusion for property buyers, sellers, and homeowners in our market, the concept of a quitclaim deed is more simple than many initially assume.
While a warranty deed offers the buyer legal protection in case of issues related to the title, a quitclaim deed is used to transfer ownership of a property without guaranteeing the quality of the title. Quitclaim deeds transfer only the seller’s legal interest in a property. So if the seller co-owns a property with a family member, for example, they can only transfer their portion of legal ownership via a quitclaim deed. Quitclaim deeds are often used by the seller as a means by which to avoid liability in case the legitimacy of their ownership is called into question.
However, this does not mean sellers using a quitclaim deed are necessarily unscrupulous. Many sellers choose to transfer ownership using a quitclaim deed in order to resolve apparent defects in the title (like a misspelled name) without the time or expense of taking legal action, or as a way to gift property to a friend or family member. The majority of quitclaim deeds arise from highly specific scenarios like this, as they are a quick and simple way for sellers to navigate particularly complex or unique transactions without unnecessary legal risk.
In short, quitclaims can be a convenient solution for transferring interest. This doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t also create certain difficulties for the new property owner. With that said, let’s return to the original topic: How to sell a property you initially obtained through a quitclaim deed.
While transferring a title using a quitclaim deed is generally easy, selling a property acquired through a quitclaim can be quite a strenuous process.
First, quitclaim deeds tend to make properties less attractive to retail buyers. This is because in order for them to take out a mortgage, the home would need to be sold with a warranty deed and with title insurance—something that isn’t always possible for a property the seller obtained through a quitclaim deed. It all depends on whether you can obtain proof that the title is free and clear.
Buyers want the certainty of knowing that the property they’re set to purchase will come without any legal baggage. In a market where buyers have several options before them, a home that may not have a clean and clear title tends to send up red flags. This can make it difficult to sell a home acquired with a quitclaim deed, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
To sell a home you received through a quitclaim deed, you will still need to transfer ownership using a warranty deed. To do this, you’ll need to hire a title company to perform a title search, which will generally cost between $150 and $400, but can be much more depending on the property. During this search, the title company will review the property’s history to see whether there are any liens or past ownership disputes. Then, assuming no such problems are found and the title company is able to verify the quality of the title, you will be able to purchase title insurance and legally transfer ownership to a new buyer using a warranty deed. The title must also be filed at the county recorder’s office in whichever county the property resides.
If any liens, encumbrances, restrictions, ownership discrepancies, or other such issues do arise during the title search, this will, at least temporarily, nullify your ability to sell. If you wish to continue pursuing a traditional selling experience, you will first need to resolve these issues. This means you’ll need to work closely with both your title company and an experienced real estate attorney. Of course, these partnerships will come at a cost. Most real estate attorneys charge between $150 and $300 per hour for their services. And given the extensive time and effort it takes to resolve title issues, which are often incredibly complex, your legal bills will almost certainly run into the thousands.
Truly, resolving issues related to a property’s title can be an incredibly taxing (and incredibly expensive) ordeal—let alone the fact that even after the title is verified as being free and clear, the cost of selling the home still awaits. By the time you pay the commission fees, the title and escrow charges, and all the other miscellaneous expenses associated with selling a home in Florida, you stand to face a formidable final price-tag.
With all of this in mind, one can easily understand why selling a property acquired through a quitclaim deed on the open market is something many would rather avoid. Even so, many consider a traditional listing experience to be their only option—despite all the hurdles they may encounter. They believe that the stress and expense that often come along with such a sale are simply an inevitable side effect. But they aren’t. There is another way.
While quit claimed houses might not qualify for traditional home buyers that rely on conventional or FHA loans to purchase properties, some real estate investment companies would take the risk of dealing with quit claimed properties. Any type of investment involves risk, and real estate investors are in the business with full knowledge of the risk that comes from purchasing such a property. Selling to an investor buyer could mean less money at the closing, but this way is much less sophisticated in terms of paperwork. Conservative way of selling a house requires additional documents to be executed such as listing agreements with agents, lead paint disclosure, personal property provisions, and escrow release forms. Again, most investors tend to avoid prolonged procedures in order to return their investments sooner.
This article has been contributed by Alex Uktamov from Sol Green Homes.