Maryland Warranty Deed Form
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What is a Maryland Warranty Deed Form?
A Maryland warranty deed, also known as a general warranty deed, is a legal document used to transfer Maryland real estate. Warranty deeds offer the highest level of protection for the grantee (buyer), as the grantor (seller) guarantees that the title to the property is free from any defects, liens, or encumbrances, regardless of when they originated. The grantor is responsible for defending the title against any lawful claims that may arise, even if they predate the grantor’s ownership.
Maryland’s real estate laws provide special statutory language for creating warranty deeds.1
How Warranty of Title Works in Maryland
A warranty of title refers to the guarantees and assurances provided by the grantor to the grantee regarding the status of the property’s title. In the context of a Maryland warranty deed, the warranty of title represents the grantor’s commitment to protect the grantee against any defects, liens, or encumbrances that may affect the title, irrespective of when they occurred. The warranty of title in a warranty deed typically includes six main covenants:
- Covenant of seisin. The grantor guarantees that he or she legally owns the property.2
- Covenant of power to convey. The grantor guarantees that he or she has the legal right to sell the property and transfer the title to the grantee.3
- Covenant against encumbrance. The grantor promises that the property is free from any liens, encumbrances, or other claims that could jeopardize the grantee’s ownership.4
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The grantor guarantees that the grantee will be able to enjoy the property without interference from third parties claiming an interest in the property.5
- Covenant of general warranty. The grantor agrees to defend the grantee’s title against any lawful claims and to compensate the grantee for any losses resulting from a breach of the warranty.6
- Covenant of further assurance. The grantor commits to take any actions or sign any documents needed to protect the grantee’s ownership interest.7
These covenants completely protect the grantee who receives property through a Maryland warranty deed from against any potential problems with the property’s title. The grantor is legally obligated to address any title problems that are discovered. If the grantor fails to fix an issue covered by the warranty, the grantee can sue the grantor to recover any financial loss that the problem causes.8
Attorney Practice Note: Title insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects property owners and mortgage lenders from financial losses due to defects, liens, or encumbrances on the property’s title. Most Maryland real estate purchases now involve the purchase of title insurance—which provides the new owner additional protection against title problems and a reliable source of compensation if an issue emerges.
Other Names for a Maryland Warranty Deed Form
The terms warranty deed and general warranty deed are widely used in most states (including Maryland) for deeds that provide a complete warranty of title. Some states may use different names—such as statutory warranty deed—for a similar type of deed that offers full warranties. The terminology may vary between states, but the fundamental aspects of a complete warranty of title are consistent. The key characteristic of this type of deed is that the grantor guarantees the property title is free from any defects or encumbrances, regardless of when they originated, providing comprehensive protection to the grantee.
How Do Maryland Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
In Maryland, there are three main types of deeds used for transferring real estate, each offering different levels of protection to the grantee. A Maryland warranty deed provides the highest level of protection to the grantee—placing all risk of title problems on the grantor. Maryland special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds provide less or no protection.
- Maryland special warranty deed. A Maryland special warranty deed offers a limited warranty of title. The grantor warrants that he or she has not done or allowed anything to impair the property’s title.9 The grantor promises to defend the grantee’s title against third-party claims—but only if the claim is based on something that occurred while the grantor owned the property.10
- Maryland quitclaim deed. A Maryland quitclaim deed offers the least protection to the grantee. The grantor makes no warranties or guarantees about the title and merely transfers whatever interest they may have in the property.11 The grantee assumes all risks associated with potential defects, liens, or encumbrances on the title.
From the grantee’s perspective, a warranty deed offers the most comprehensive protection, followed by a special warranty deed (also called a limited warranty deed), while a quitclaim deed provides the grantee no protection. Viewed from the grantor’s perspective, the warranty deed places the most risk on the grantor, followed by a special warranty deed, and a quitclaim deed places no risk on the grantor.
Maryland Warranty Deeds and Other Maryland Deed Forms
Estate planning involves the transfer of assets, including real estate, to designated beneficiaries upon the owner’s death. In Maryland, various types of deeds can be used for estate planning purposes, particularly to avoid probate.
Maryland Life Estate Deeds
Maryland life estate deeds allow property owners to keep a lifetime ownership interest in real estate and transfer title to a remainder beneficiary (or remainderman) upon the owner’s death.12 The owner can continue to use and occupy the property until his or her death—at which point ownership automatically transfers to the remainder beneficiary without the need for probate.13
Maryland Transfer-on-Death Deeds
In states that recognize them, a transfer-on-death deed (also called a TOD deed or beneficiary deed) is a revocable deed that allows the property owner to designate one or more beneficiaries who will receive the property upon the owner’s death, without going through probate. The owner retains full control over the property during their lifetime and can change or revoke the beneficiaries at any time. Maryland law does not recognize transfer-on-death deeds.
Common Uses of Maryland Warranty Deed Forms
A Maryland warranty deed, which offers the highest level of protection for the grantee, can be used in most real estate transfers. Warranty deeds are most often used in residential property sales. Buyers paying market value for real estate need assurance that they are acquiring a clear and marketable title to the property. The frequent use of title insurance in real estate sales has made a warranty deed’s warranty less critical than it once was. Special warranty deeds combined with title insurance is now a common approach to protect buyers in Maryland real estate sales.
Warranty deeds are less common in transfers that involve no consideration given for the property. A transfer to a family member as a gift or a transfer to a revocable living trust is typically made through a quitclaim deed or special warranty deed.
How to Create a Maryland Warranty Deed Form
As with any deed, a Maryland warranty deed should be customized to reflect the specific terms and conditions of the transaction. Reliance on fill-in-the-blank forms can lead to invalid documents and future title issues. A Maryland warranty deed must meet all Maryland deed-recording requirements and include all necessary information—such as the grantor’s and grantee’s names and addresses, the legal description of the property, and any exceptions or reservations.
The person who prepares a Maryland warranty deed must ensure that the deed includes language to reflect the complete warranty of title. A Maryland deed that says the grantor “will warranty generally the property hereby granted” includes the covenant of general warranty, and Maryland has key phrases for each of the other covenants of title listed above, as well.14
The grantor must sign the deed in the presence of a notary public. The notary public will verify the identity of the grantor, witness the signature, and affix a notarial seal to the deed. After the deed has been executed and notarized, it should be recorded with the clerk of the circuit court’s office in the county where the property is located. Recording the deed provides constructive notice of the transaction and helps protect the grantee’s interests in the property.
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- Md. Code Ann., Real Prop. § 2-105.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-107.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-108.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-111.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-109.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-105.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-112.
- Magraw v. Dillow, 671 A.2d 485 (Md. 1996).
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-110.
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 2-106.
- Welsh v. Welsh, 255 A.2d 368 (Md. 1969).
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-108(a).
- Md. Code, Real Prop. § 4-202(b).
- Md. Code, Real Prop. §§ 2-105 – 2-112.