To be recorded, each deed to Arkansas real estate must meet the recording, content, and signing requirements described below.
Formatting Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- Paper size. An Arkansas deed must be printed on paper measuring 8½ × 11 inches (standard letter size).1
- Margin requirements. The deed must have a 2½-inch margin at the right top of the first page, a ½-inch margin on the sides and bottoms of all pages, and a 2½-inch margin at the bottom of the last page.2
- 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.3 The precise size of the recorder’s mark varies between counties and is usually about 3 × 3 inches.
- Legibility. A deed must be legible to be accepted for recording.4
Content Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- Title. An Arkansas deed must include a document title.5
- Party names. A deed must name the current owner (the grantor) and the new owner (the grantee).6
- Property description. A deed must include a legal description with enough detail to identify the property.
- Granting clause. A deed must have a granting clause, a statement that the current owner is transferring the real estate to the new owner.7 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 say what co-ownership form the new owners will use.8 Arkansas recognizes tenancy in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and tenancy by the entirety.
- Consideration. Arkansas deeds specify some form of consideration, or payment, 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 wording 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.9 The name may be printed, typed, stamped, or legibly signed. The Arkansas Code suggests this statement: “This instrument was prepared by (preparer’s name and address).”10
- Return address. If a deed includes a return address, the county recorder will deliver the recorded deed to the address upon request.11
- Transfer tax certification statement. A deed, the new owner must confirm that either (a) documentary stamps in the legally correct amount are included on the deed or (b) the deed is exempt from transfer tax. The suggested wording is one of the following:
“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 include the new owner’s address.12 The signed certification can be given in the body of the deed or in an attached affidavit of compliance if one is recorded with the deed.
Signing Requirements for Arkansas Deeds
- Current owner’s signature. The current owner must sign an Arkansas deed.13
- Notarization. The current owner’s signature must be notarized.14 If the deed’s signer is signing on behalf of the property owner—such as an agent acting under power of attorney or member signing for an LLC—the acknowledgment must identify the represented party.15 The Arkansas Code includes suggested notary acknowledgment forms for deeds signed by individuals, business entities, and agents acting under power of attorney.16
- Witness requirements. As an alternative to notarization, two witnesses who have no stake in the transfer may sign an Arkansas deed after watching the current owner sign the deed. Or they may acknowledge the authenticity of the owner’s signature on the deed.17 see also Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull, & Burrow, PLLC,18
- Electronic signature. An Arkansas deed in electronic format with the current owner’s “electronic signature” meets Arkansas’ requirement that deeds be signed.19 A compliant electronic deed qualifies as an original, written document that can be recorded in Arkansas.20
- Homestead. Both spouses must sign a deed transferring an Arkansas homestead owned by a married person even if only one spouse owns the real estate.21
- Spousal consent (non-homestead property). Arkansas law continues to recognize traditional dower and curtesy rights. These rights require a non-owner spouse’s consent to transfer the other spouse’s property.22 A non-owner spouse can give up these rights in transferred property by signing the deed that transfers it.23 The spouse’s signature typically follows a statement that the owner intends to release dower and curtesy rights. When a non-owner spouse signs a deed transferring non-homestead property, it 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.24 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 $15.00 for a deed’s first page and $5.00 for each additional page.25
Arkansas Real Property Transfer Tax
- Transfer tax. Arkansas charges a real property transfer tax for real estate transfers involving more than $100.00 in payment.26 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.27 The recorder cannot accept a deed for recording unless transfer tax has been paid or the deed is exempt.28
- Documentary stamps. The person requesting recording must show that either the required transfer tax has been paid or the deed is exempt before the recorder can accept a deed.29 Transfer tax payment is shown by documentary stamps attached to the deed. The new owner must attach the stamps to prove payment.30
Note: The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration changed from the old adhesive stamps to a single 8½ × 11-inch document in 2013. The stamps can be purchased on the Arkansas Taxpayer Access Point—a website maintained by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Users can also get an affidavit of compliance through the site. The printed stamp document should be submitted with the deed 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 that person’s agent must submit a signed real property tax affidavit of compliance—or just affidavit of compliance—when filing a deed with the county recorder.31 The affidavit gives details about the transfer—including the purchase price and transfer tax amount or any exemption.32
- Transfer tax exemptions. Deeds transferring Arkansas real estate as a gift or for payment not over $100 are not subject to transfer tax.33 The Arkansas transfer tax law clearly exempts several other types of transfers from transfer tax.34 These deeds are exempt:
- Deeds transferring real estate as a gift or for payment 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 transfer only a leasehold interest in land;
- Deeds given by one spouse in a divorce to the other spouse 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;
- Deeds in lieu of foreclosure;
- Deeds transferring real estate bought for under $60,000 if the purchase is financed by the FHA, US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, or Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (the seller must record the buyer’s sworn statement giving 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; and
- Arkansas beneficiary deeds (i.e., transfer-on-death deeds).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(A).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(B).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(C).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(F).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(D)(i).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(D)(ii).
- See, e.g., Ark. Code § 18-12-102(b).
- See Ark. Code §§ 18-12-603; 18-12-106(a).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-403(a)(1).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-403(b).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-413.
- Ark. Code § 26-60-110(b).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-104.
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(E); Ark. Code § 18-12-201.
- Ark. Code § 18-12-202(a)(1)(B).
- Ark. Code §§ 16-47-107(a), (b), and (c).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-104;
- Arkansas Commercial Lending Law, at p. 87 (Excerpted from Commercial Lending Law: A State-by-State Guide, American Bar Assoc., 2009).
- Ark. Code § 14-2-303(b).
- Ark. Code § 14-2-303(a).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-403.
- Ark. Code § 28-11-201(a).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-402.
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(a).
- Ark. Code § 21-6-306(a)(1).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-105(a).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-105(b).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-110(a).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-110(a).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-107(b)(3)(B).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-107(a).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-107(2)(b).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-105(a).
- Ark. Code §§ 26-60-102(1)-(12).