How a Michigan Warranty Deed Form Works
A Michigan warranty deed form is used to transfer Michigan real estate with a full warranty of title. A person who transfers property by warranty deed form guarantees there are no problems with title to the property. This guarantee covers all title issues in the chain of title, including those that arose before the current owner owned the property.
Other Names for Michigan Warranty Deeds
In some states, a warranty deed form is called a general warranty deed to distinguish it from a special warranty deed. Because Michigan law uses covenant deeds instead of special warranty deeds, there is no need to use the term general warranty to distinguish the deed from a special warranty deed.
Relationship of Michigan Warranty Deed Form to Warranty of Title
Key Term: Warranty of Title. Title issues can be caused by many things, including errors in the public record, unknown liens against the property, undisclosed prior conveyances, forged deeds, missing heirs or unprobated wills, or disputes about boundary lines or surveys. Title issues often require legal action to fix and can decrease the value of real estate. If the property has no title issues, it is said to have clear title. A warranty of title is a legal guarantee from the transferor to the transferee that there are no title issues. If a deed makes a warranty of title, the transferee can sue the transferor over any title issues.
A Michigan warranty deed provides a full warranty of title. A person who transfers property using a warranty deed form guarantees, known as covenants of title:
- That she owns property (covenant of seisen);
- That she has the right to convey the property (covenant of right to convey);
- That she will defend the new owner if any title issues arise (covenant of warranty);
- That she will take any steps necessary to fix any title issues that arise (covenant of further assurances);
- That there are no debts, liens, or similar encumbrances that have not been disclosed (covenant against encumbrances); and
- That the new owner will be able to use the property without interruption caused by title issues (covenant of quiet enjoyment).
These six covenants have historically been used to protect the buyer by assigning liability to the seller. In most real estate sales today, title insurance is used to supplement—and often replace—the protection offered by the six covenants of title.
Comparison of Michigan Warranty Deeds to Other Forms of Michigan Deeds
The full warranty of title provided by a Michigan warranty deed distinguishes that deed form from other deed forms, like quitclaim deeds and covenant deeds.
- A Michigan quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title. The person who signs a quitclaim deed is not responsible for any title issues, even if he or she did not own the property. Quitclaim deeds place the risk on the person receiving the property.
- A Michigan covenant deed form provides a warranty of title but limits the warranty to the period when the previous owner owned the property. The person signing a Michigan covenant deed is not responsible for any title issues that arose before he or she owned the property.
A Michigan general warranty deed also differs from other deed forms—like traditional life estate deeds and lady bird deeds—that are used to avoid probate in Michigan. These estate planning deeds are named after their probate avoidance feature, which is a separate issue from the warranty of title. Because these terms relate to different features, a deed can be both a life estate deed and a warranty deed.
Common Uses of Warranty Deeds
Warranty deeds are most often used when a buyer is purchasing real estate from an unrelated party. Because the buyer is paying full value for the real estate, the buyer—or the buyer’s attorney or title insurance company—may insist on a warranty deed. Since title insurance is an essential part of most sales, a covenant deed or quitclaim deed may be used instead of a warranty deed. Because warranty deeds place risk on the person who signs the deed, they are rarely used outside of the sale context.
How to Create a Michigan Warranty Deed
Section 565.151 of the Michigan Compiled Laws authorizes the Michigan warranty deed form. It provides:
That any conveyance of lands worded in substance as follows: “A.B. conveys and warrants to C.D. (here describe the premises) for the sum of (here insert the consideration),” the said conveyance being dated and duly signed, sealed and acknowledged by the grantor, shall be deemed and held to be a conveyance in fee simple to the grantee, his heirs and assigns, with covenant from the grantor for himself and his heirs and personal representatives, that he is lawfully seized of the premises, has good right to convey the same, and guarantees the quiet possession thereof; that the same are free from all incumbrances, and that he will warrant and defend the title to the same against all lawful claims.
This statute provides the required language (“conveys and warrants”) used in a Michigan warranty deed form. But, like other statutory “forms,” it is only a starting point. The statutory language alone does not address other requirements for transferring real estate, including a valid legal description, description of the consideration provides, determination of the manner in which co-owners will hold title, font size and page format requirements, and signature and notarization requirements.
When creating a Michigan warranty deed, it is important to use the correct language. Using incorrect language can create problems on the deed that require court proceedings to resolve. The warranty deeds prepared by our Deed Generator were designed by attorneys to meet the requirements of Michigan law.