To be eligible for recording, each deed to Arkansas real estate must satisfy the recording, content, and signing requirements described below.
Formatting Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- Paper Size. An Arkansas deed must be printed on paper measuring 8 ½ x 11-inch paper (standard letter size). Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(A).
- Margin Requirements. The deed must have a 2½-inch margin at the right top of the first page, a half-inch margin on the sides and bottoms of all pages, and a 2½-inch margin at the bottom of the last page. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(B).
- Blank Space for Recorder. An Arkansas deed’s first page must reserve a blank space in the top-right corner large enough for the recorder’s file mark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(C). The precise size of the recorder’s mark varies between counties and is usually approximately 3 x 3 inches.
- A deed must be legible to be accepted for recording. Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(F).
Content Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- An Arkansas deed must include a document title. Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(D)(i).
- Party Names. A deed must identify by name the current owner (the grantor) and the new owner (the grantee). Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(D)(ii).
- Property Description. A deed must include a legal description sufficient to allow identification of the property.
- Granting Clause. A deed must have a granting clause stating that the current owner is transferring the real estate to the new owner. See, g., Ark. Code § 18-12-102(b). A granting clause often indicates the warranty of title, if any, the current owner is providing. The clause’s precise language depends on the type of deed.
- Form of Co-Ownership. An Arkansas deed transferring real estate to more than one new owner should specify the co-ownership form the new owners will use. See Code §§ 18-12-603; 18-12-106(a). Arkansas recognizes tenancy in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and tenancy by the entirety.
- Arkansas deeds identify some form of consideration provided by the new owner in exchange for the transfer. A statement of nominal consideration is customary in Arkansas deeds—even when no purchase price is involved. Nominal consideration is identified with a statement such as Ten Dollars ($10.00) and other good and valuable consideration.
- Preparer’s Name. The name and address of the person who prepared the deed must appear on an Arkansas deed’s first page. Code § 14-15-403(a)(1). The name may be printed, typed, stamped, or legibly signed. The Arkansas Code recommends the following statement: “This instrument was prepared by (preparer’s name and address).” Ark. Code § 14-15-403(b).
- Return Address. If a deed includes a return address, the county recorder will deliver the recorded deed to the address upon request. Code § 14-15-413.
- Transfer Tax Certification Statement. A deed must include the new owner’s certification that either (i) documentary stamps in the legally correct amount are included on the deed or (ii) the deed is exempt from transfer tax. The suggested wording for the certifications is as follows:
- “I certify under penalty of false swearing that documentary stamps or a documentary symbol in the legally correct amount has been placed on this instrument.”
- “This instrument is exempt from the real property transfer tax.”
The transfer tax certification statement must be signed by the new owner (the grantee), and the new owner’s address must be included with the statement. Ark. Code § 26-60-110(b). The signed certification can be provided in the body of the deed or within an attached affidavit of compliance if the affidavit is recorded with the deed.
Execution Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- Current Owner’s Signature. The current owner must sign an Arkansas deed. Code § 18-12-104.
- Electronic Signature. An Arkansas deed in electronic format with the current owner’s “electronic signature” satisfies Arkansas’ requirement that deeds be signed. Code § 14-2-303(b). A compliant electronic deed qualifies as an original, written document that can be recorded in Arkansas. Ark. Code § 14-2-303(a).
- A deed transferring an Arkansas homestead owned by a married person must be signed by both spouses—even if only one spouse holds title to the real estate. Ark. Code § 18-12-403.
- Spousal Consent (Non-Homestead Property). Arkansas law continues to recognize traditional rights of dower and curtesy—which necessitate a non-owner spouse’s consent to a transfer of the other spouse’s property. Code § 28-11-201(a). A non-owner spouse can relinquish dower or curtesy rights in transferred property by signing the deed that transfers it. Ark. Code § 18-12-402. The spouse’s signature is typically preceded by a statement indicating the intent to release dower and curtesy rights. Including a non-owner spouse’s signature on a deed transferring non-homestead property helps to avoid future problems with the property’s title.
Recording Fees for Arkansas Deeds
- Recording Deeds. Arkansas deeds are recorded with the county recorder’s office for the county where the property is located. Code § 14-15-402(a). The circuit clerk performs the recorder’s duties in many Arkansas counties. Ten Arkansas counties are divided into two judicial districts with their own recording offices. In those counties, a deed must be recorded in the correct office. The dual offices for counties with two judicial districts are as follows:
- Arkansas County (DeWitt and Stuttgart);
- Carroll County (Berryville and Eureka Springs);
- Clay County (Corning and Piggott);
- Craighead County (Jonesboro and Lake City);
- Franklin County (Charleston and Ozark);
- Logan County (Paris and Booneville);
- Mississippi County (Blytheville and Osceola);
- Prairie County (Des Arc and Devalls Bluff);
- Sebastian County (Fort Smith and Greenwood); and
- Yell County (Danville and Dardanelle).
- Recording Fees. The county recorder charges a recording fee of $15.00 for a deed’s first page and $5.00 for each additional page. Code § 21-6-306(a)(1).
Arkansas Real Property Transfer Tax
- Transfer Tax. Arkansas charges a real property transfer tax for real estate transfers involving more than $100.00 of consideration. Code § 26-60-105(a). The total transfer tax rate is $3.30 per $1,000.00 of consideration—two-thirds of which is expressly the new owner’s responsibility. Ark. Code § 26-60-105(b). The recorder cannot accept a deed for recording unless transfer tax has been paid or the deed is exempt. Ark. Code § 26-60-110(a).
- Documentary Stamps. The person requesting recording must demonstrate that either the required transfer tax has been paid or the deed is exempt before the recorder can accept a deed for recording. Code § 26-60-110(a). Payment of transfer tax is evidenced by documentary stamps attached to the deed. The new owner is responsible for attaching the stamps to prove payment. Ark. Code § 26-60-107(b)(3)(B).
Note. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration changed from traditional adhesive stamps to a single 8 ½ x 11-inch document in 2013. The stamps are available for purchase on the Arkansas Taxpayer Access Point—a website maintained by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Users can also obtain an affidavit of compliance through the site. The printed stamp document should be included with the deed when submitted for recording. Documentary stamps may also be purchased directly from the Department’s local revenue offices.
- Real Property Tax Affidavit of Compliance. The new owner or authorized agent must submit a signed —or just affidavit of compliance—when filing a deed with the county recorder. Code § 26-60-107(a). The affidavit of compliance provides information about the transaction—including the purchase price and transfer tax amount or applicable exemption. Ark. Code § 26-60-107(2)(b).
- Transfer Tax Exemptions. Deeds transferring Arkansas real estate as a gift or for consideration not over $100 are not subject to transfer tax. Code § 26-60-105(a). The Arkansas transfer tax law expressly exempts several additional categories of transfers from transfer tax. Ark. Code §§ 26-60-102(1 – 12). Exempt deeds include the following:
- Deeds transferring real estate as a gift or for consideration less than $100.00;
- Deeds to or from the United States or the State of Arkansas, or any agency, instrumentality, or political subdivision of either;
- Deeds given solely to secure a debt;
- Deeds made solely to correct or replace a prior deed for which transfer tax was fully paid at the time of recording;
- Deeds that convey only a leasehold interest in land;
- Deeds given by a party to a divorce proceeding to the other party to divide marital property;
- Deeds given in a judicial proceeding to enforce a security interest when the person who receives title is the person enforcing the security interest;
- Dees in lieu of foreclosure;
- Deeds transferring real estate purchased for under $60,000 if the purchase is financed by the FHA, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, or the Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (the seller must record the buyer’s sworn statement identifying the sale price and stating that neither the buyer nor the buyer’s spouse has owned a home within three years of closing);
- Deeds between business entities such as corporations and LLCs—or between an entity and an owner—relating to the organization, reorganization, merger, consolidation, capitalization, asset distribution, or liquidation of the entity;
- Arkansas beneficiary deeds (e., transfer-on-death deeds).