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Property Protection: What is a Special Warranty Deed?

What is a special warranty deed? A Special Warranty Deed constitutes a legal document that guarantees the title to the property against any defects in clear title that may have occurred during the seller’s period of ownership but not for any period before that. Regarding real estate transactions, grasping the intricacies of property protection is crucial. This brings us to an important question many homeowners and potential buyers ask: “What is a Special Warranty Deed?”

In this blog, we’ll explore the specifics of ‘What is a Special Warranty Deed,’ breaking down precisely what they are and why they play a crucial role in safeguarding both parties participating in a property transaction. If you’ve found yourself pondering, “What is a Special Warranty Deed?” you’re in the right place for clear, concise answers that demystify this legal document.

Renowned real estate investors Steve Daria and Joleigh have often highlighted the significance of understanding what is a Special Warranty Deed in securing investments. Their extensive experience in the field underscores the vital role these legal documents play in property transactions, ensuring a level of protection for all parties involved.

What Is a Special Warranty Deed? The Basics Explained

When you buy a property, you’re likely to encounter a variety of legal terms, each carrying a weight of significance that influences the purchase.

The special warranty deed stands out for its unique approach to protecting the property’s title.

A special warranty deed is a legal document utilized within real estate that affirms property ownership and promises that the seller has not done anything during their ownership that would cause the title to be defective.

what is a special warranty deed

It is called “special” because it only protects against issues that arose during the seller’s ownership — not before, unlike a general warranty deed, which protects against all defects in the title throughout the property’s history.

When and Why Would You Use a Special Warranty Deed?

For most property transactions, sellers have options regarding conveying the property to the buyer.

A special warranty deed is typically used under certain circumstances, including:

  • Commercial Properties: Special warranty deeds are commonly used to protect the seller, mainly when corporate assets are involved.
  • Foreclosures and Tax Sales: In these cases, the seller is the foreclosing lender or a governmental entity, which may need to have the detailed knowledge of the property’s entire history that a traditional seller would.
  • Historic Properties: When the history of a property is complex, such as one that has changed hands multiple times, a special warranty deed could be a preferred choice to limit the seller’s liability.
  • Short Sales: If a lender initiates a short sale, the special warranty deed protects the lender from unknown claims that could cloud the property’s title.

Understanding when to utilize a special warranty deed can be strategic for buyers and sellers.

While some may initially view a special warranty deed as a seller-leaning provision, a savvy buyer can often negotiate terms that balance out the agreement, potentially resulting in a smoother transaction.

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Navigating the Advantages and Disadvantages of Special Warranty Deeds

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s essential to grasp the upsides and downsides offered by special warranty deeds. Here are a few to consider:

Advantages of a Special Warranty Deed

One of the most significant advantages of a special warranty deed is its protection to the buyer. If a property’s title does have a hidden defect, the special warranty deed obligates the seller to rectify the issue or compensate the buyer.

This can be particularly helpful when buying properties from entities like banks that may need to be made aware of the property’s history.

Special warranty deeds are also frequently associated with a lower sale cost, as they do not require the exact comprehensive title search as a general warranty deed.

Disadvantages of a Special Warranty Deed

The primary disadvantage of a special warranty deed is its limited scope of protection, which can be narrower than a general warranty deed. Buyers must diligently conduct their title search and insurance to ensure they are fully aware of any pre-existing defects.

Unlike a general warranty deed, which offers blanket coverage for the entire title history, extraordinary warranty deeds leave gaps that the buyer must be aware of and handle cautiously.

Also, under a special warranty deed, the seller does not explicitly warrant that they haven’t caused issues, but only that they haven’t cropped up during their ownership.

Special Warranty Deed vs. Deed of Quitclaim: Pitfalls to Avoid

When discussing property transactions, the quitclaim deed is commonly confused with a special warranty deed.

While both can be used to transfer real estate, they offer vastly different levels of protection and can result in significantly different outcomes for the parties involved.

Special Warranty Deed vs. Deed of Quitclaim

A special warranty deed guarantees the property’s title, backed by the seller’s reputation and financial ability to rectify the situation if a defect arises.

A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, offers no such protection.

It merely states that the current owner is transferring whatever interest they have in the property — with no warranty as to the extent or legality of their ownership interest.

Avoiding Misuse of Deeds in Transactions

Understanding the implications of deeds is critical to avoiding pitfalls. Sellers and buyers should carefully consider which type of deed will meet their needs.

A seller should not offer a quitclaim when the buyer expects an exceptional warranty; buyers should not accept a quitclaim when expecting a warranty.

Employing a qualified real estate attorney or agent is critical to ensuring the correct deed is utilized in a transaction.

what is special warranty deed

Maximizing Protection with a Special Warranty Deed

For buyers, a special warranty deed’s protections can provide reassurance that the seller will step in to resolve or mitigate the problem if a title issue arises.

However, buyers should rely on more than this deed for protection. It’s essential to take additional steps to defend their investment.

Conducting a Thorough Title Search

Before closing a deal, a thorough search of the property’s title history should be conducted.

This search can reveal any existing liens, claims, or other issues affecting the property’s value or the buyer’s ability to use it as intended.

Obtaining Title Insurance

Title insurance is a crucial layer of protection the buyer can obtain to cover against any errors or omissions in the title search.

This insurance will provide financial compensation if an issue arises that must be identified during the initial search.

Negotiating Additional Clauses

Buyers should consider adding clauses to the sales contract that further protect their interests, such as requiring the seller to cure any title defects before the sale becomes final.

Special Warranty Deeds in Different States: What to Watch For

Real estate law and practices can vary significantly from state to state. Buyers and sellers should know how special warranty deeds are viewed and utilized in their region.

Overview of Special Warranty Deeds in Florida

In Florida, special warranty deeds are a standard means of transferring property, and buyers are generally well-protected under the state’s real estate laws.

However, the requirement for seller disclosures, the legal timeline to bring a claim, and other specific regulations can differ from those in different states.

Both parties must familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs to ensure a successful transaction.

Special Considerations in Understanding Local Practices

Different states may have specific rules regarding the use of special warranty deeds.

For example, some states may require specific language or notifications within the deed, while others may limit the property types for which a special warranty deed is appropriate.

It would help if you worked with a local, knowledgeable real estate attorney or agent to guide you.


In the intricate world of real estate, property protection is paramount. Understanding what is a special warranty deed is a powerful tool that buyers and sellers can leverage to safeguard their investments.

By wielding this knowledge effectively, you can ensure that your next real estate transaction is not just a hard-won deal but also a foundation for future prosperity and security in the world of real estate.

The adage “knowledge is power” rings particularly true in property law. Equip yourself with a deep understanding of special warranty deeds, and see how your real estate ventures can ascend to new heights of success and peace of mind.

**NOTICE:  Please note that the content presented in this post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice or relied upon as a replacement for consultation with a qualified attorney or CPA. For specific guidance on legal or financial matters, readers are encouraged to seek professional assistance from an attorney, CPA, or other appropriate professional regarding the subject matter.

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