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What Is a Deed of Conveyance?

By Theresa Miles
Updated May 16, 2024
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A deed of conveyance, also referred to as a deed, is a document that evidences ownership of real property. It is required to transfer property from one person to another. To be valid, a deed must conform to certain legal conventions that are required by the real property law in the applicable jurisdiction. The law will typically require a deed to be signed by the buyer and the seller of the property in front of witnesses or a notary, delivered, and recorded in the local land registry for the transfer of interest to be valid.

Deeds are legal documents. The importance of the private ownership of property in jurisdictions with legal systems based on English common law has made the deed into an indispensable instrument to prove who has the legal title to a parcel of land. A deed of conveyance operates much like a contract, in that the form of the instrument determines whether it is valid and legally enforceable. Anyone using a deed to transfer property to another person must follow the proper legal steps and craft the deed to satisfy all requirements under the law in order to ensure the validity of the transfer.

A deed of conveyance can be handwritten or typed, created ad hoc or by a specialist, but in all cases the deed must adhere to certain traditional formalities. The document must use the word deed in the title, and it must state that it conveys a certain interest in property. Any person transferring property must have the legal right to do so, and the person receiving it must be legally competent. Each party must sign the document, not necessarily at the same time, and each signature must be witnessed and notarized. The deed must be delivered to the receiving party, accepted, and, in some jurisdictions, recorded with the local land registry in order to satisfy the contractual requirement of mutual assent.

Typically, a deed can contain a number of specific warranties and covenants that define what is being transferred from one party to another. The conditions that can be added to a deed may differ depending on jurisdiction. A deed of conveyance that purports to transfer only what the owner actually owns, with no warranties regarding title, is called a quitclaim deed, while a deed where the owner makes specific representations that the title to the property is clear is commonly called a general warranty deed. Covenants included in a deed limit the promises made by the owner in some respect and can address any number of issues relating to the property.

How to Get Certified Copy of Conveyance Deed?

All deeds are legal documents that have to be officially recognized, recorded and made available as public records. Conveyance deeds are no different. Most conveyance deeds will be recorded and saved on file somewhere in the local area where the described property of interest exists. This location may be the local County Recorder's office, the local land registry, or some other legal, government entity. To acquire a certified copy of the deed, a person first must figure out where the original deed of conveyance is kept.

Once an individual finds the conveyance deed they are looking for, they cannot simply make a copy of it and call it certified. Certified copies of deeds require additional steps to procure. A certified copy is a copy of a deed that includes a special endorsement or label which states, that the copy is a true reproduction of the original document. Certified copies are not guarantees that the original document is accurate and genuine. Certified copies merely say that the copied document is exactly the same as the primary document. That said, certified copies are usually accepted in place of original documents for most informal and formal or legal proceedings

Many certified copies of conveyance deeds cost additional money to procure than straight copies without certification. This amount is generally anywhere from $5 to $20 in the United States, depending on where a person is requesting the copy from. There are companies out there that will offer to get a certified copy made on a person's behalf and then deliver it for a fee. Often, these companies charge significantly more for this service than people would spend getting the item for themselves.

Some counties do have online request forms for conveyance deeds so people do not have to physically travel to the Recorder's office to obtain a copy. These services may not always be able to provide certified copies though, so people must be sure to read up on exactly what type of copy is being requested and paid for before using this option. If a person is unable to travel, it is always possible to hire or send a legal representative, a title company, an abstractor or another trusted individual to retrieve a certified copy instead. Sometimes these professionals and services may come at an additional cost as well.

What Is the Difference Between Sale Deed and Deed of Conveyance?

A sale deed is a specific type of deed of conveyance. Therefore, in many ways, the two are the same thing. The difference is that a sale deed has certain parameters that not all deeds of conveyance have to meet. Sale deeds transfer legal title and ownership of one property to another via some kind of financial and legal transaction. In essence, a sale deed is a document stating that the current owner is selling and has sold that property to the new owner.

Other deeds of conveyance can transfer property from one owner to another in other forms beyond direct monetary exchanges. Other types of deeds of conveyance may include property that is exchanged for something besides money, given as a gift, transferred as a mortgage or even secured as a lease. Generally, sale deeds are seen as more permanent and will not change until another sale or conveyance of some kind takes place. Some other conveyance deeds, such as mortgages or leases, can instead be set up on a more temporary or fixed-period basis.

Is Conveyance Deed Necessary?

Yes, conveyance deeds are necessary legal documents for any proceedings regarding property. Conveyance deeds are the official statement of a person's rights to or ownership of said property. Without a conveyance deed, the sale or transfer of property to another individual or entity may not be recognized by the government and the land registry.

If a person later claims ownership of a property but cannot produce a conveyance deed, that person may lose his or her claim to the property. The conveyance deed produced also, therefore, has to be accepted and recognized. Unofficial or absent deeds may even lead to property ownership contestations and end up in a court or other legal proceeding.

To later sell a property, a conveyance deed will both need to be produced proving current ownership and created to show the official acceptance of the transfer of the property to its new owner. The conveyance deed will also help in the sale process as it can serve as an assurance that the property holds no restrictions or encumbrances like existence as a part of a trust or liens on the property that could hurt the buyer.

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Discussion Comments

By Logicfest — On Nov 24, 2014

@Soulfox -- You've hit on a lot of reasons that central land registries were established in the United States. Some of those old, sloppy land records still give title researchers fits when they are trying to research the history of a piece of land.

By Soulfox — On Nov 23, 2014

If memory serves, a deed must always be recorded to be valid. That's the state of things in the United States, at least. If a deed is not recorded with the county clerk's officer (or wherever the official land registrar is), how can a land record be researched? In most instances, only properly recorded documents can be used to establish the history of a piece of land and determine who owns it and can transfer it.

Otherwise, there would be no centralized land records and no way to establish ownership of anything.

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