New Jersey Deed Forms for Real Estate Transfers

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What Types of Deeds Are Recognized in New Jersey?

A New Jersey property owner signs and records a deed to transfer an ownership interest in real estate to a new owner.1 New Jersey law recognizes several types of deeds that provide different guarantees—or warranties of title—regarding the quality and status of a transferred property’s title. A deed’s warranty of title comes through one or more legal promises—called covenants of title—built into the deed.

New Jersey’s statutory short-form deed offers an optional template for a deed’s transfer language.2 It states that the current owner (the grantor or transferor) transfers real estate to the new owner (the grantee or transferee) but includes no covenants of title. The short-form deed may be modified and does not by itself include all information required for a valid New Jersey deed.3

New Jersey Quitclaim Deed Form

A New Jersey quitclaim deed transfers the current owner’s entire interest in the property with no covenants of title.4 The new owner receives whatever interest the transferor can legally give, but the transferor does not promise that he or she actually owns the property or any interest in it.5

A quitclaim deed is as effective as other types of deeds to transfer whatever rights or title the transferor possesses.6 However, a transferee who receives a defective title—or no interest at all—through a New Jersey quitclaim deed has no right to sue the transferor for breaching the deed.

Quitclaim deeds can be appropriate when a deed involves no consideration—payment or other value provided in exchange for the transfer. For example, an owner who is transferring title to a trust or gifting property to a family member might use a quitclaim deed.

New Jersey Bargain-and-Sale Deed Form

A New Jersey bargain-and-sale deed transfers property with the covenants of title (if any) expressly written in the deed. New Jersey bargain-and-sale deeds typically include a covenant as to grantor’s acts—which guarantees that the current owner “has done no act to encumber the said lands.”7 That means the current owner has not taken or permitted any action or signed any document to alter or impair the property’s title.

A bargain-and-sale deed with covenant as to grantor’s acts—often called a bargain-and-sale deed with covenant—is the most common deed for transferring New Jersey real estate purchased for fair value. A deed of this type gives the new owner the right to sue the prior owner for breach of covenant if the property has a title issue caused by something the prior owner did or failed to do. For example, a purchaser could sue the seller upon discovering a mechanic’s lien derived from work requested by the seller.

A bargain-and-sale deed with covenant gives the new owner some assurance of a good title but does not cover every issue that could potentially affect the property. A New Jersey buyer who needs a stronger guarantee could ask for a warranty deed.8

New Jersey General Warranty Deed Form

A New Jersey general warranty deed—sometimes shortened to warranty deed—transfers property with a full guarantee of a good title.9 An owner who transfers New Jersey real estate “with general warranty” promises to stand behind the transferred title and defend the title against any adverse claims brought by third parties.10 That promise is sometimes called a covenant of general warranty. If a problem arises with the new owner’s title, the former owner who signed a warranty deed is responsible for fixing the problem or compensating the new owner for financial loss the problem causes.

New Jersey warranty deeds often expressly incorporate up to five related covenants of title within the deed’s warranty language.

  1. Covenant of seisin. The current owner holds good title.11
  2. Covenant of right to convey. The current has the legal power to transfer the property’s title.12
  3. Covenant of quiet possession (or quiet enjoyment). The new owner’s possession and use of the property will not be disturbed by legal claims of third parties.13
  4. Covenant against encumbrances. No encumbrances—such as liens, mortgages, assessments, or judgments—affect the property’s title.14
  5. Covenant of further assurances. At the new owner’s reasonable request, the current owner will take future actions or sign documents needed to verify or confirm the new owner’s ownership of the property.15

New Jersey Special Warranty Deed Form

A New Jersey special warranty deed transfers property with a special warranty—also called a limited warranty.16 The special warranty lets the current owner and new owner share the risk of problems with the property’s title. The transferor’s guarantee is a little stronger than with a bargain-and-sale deed with covenant, but not as strong as a general warranty deed’s guarantee.17

An owner who transfers real estate “with special warranty” guarantees a good title but limits the warranty to the time while the current owner owned the property.18 The transferor promises to defend the new owner’s title against adverse third-party claims—but only if the claim is made “by, through, or under” the current owner.19 That effectively means that the current owner is responsible for issues that arose while he or she held title but not for issues that arose before the current owner acquired the property.

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What Types of Estate Planning Deeds Are Used in New Jersey?

Deeds used for estate planning let the property owner keep real estate for life and transfer it without probate at death. New Jersey law does not authorize the transfer-on-death (TOD) deeds used in many states. New Jersey real estate owners can bypass probate by using a life estate deed or survivorship deed or by holding title in a revocable living trust.

New Jersey Life Estate Deed

A life estate deed creates two distinct ownership interests in the same real estate.20 The first interest is the life estate—which gives the interest holder (the life tenant) ownership for the rest of his or her life. A property owner who creates a life estate deed for an estate plan often keeps (or reserves) the life estate.

The other ownership interest is the remainder—which gives the interest holder (the remainderman or remainder beneficiary) ownership of the property after the life tenant dies. A remainder beneficiary has a vested future interest in the property while the life tenant is still living. The life tenant therefore cannot sell or transfer complete title to the property unless the remainder beneficiary consents to the transfer.

New Jersey Survivorship Deed

A survivorship deed is a deed that names two or more new owners who hold title with a right of survivorship—which gives a surviving co-owner sole ownership when the other co-owner dies.21 New Jersey law lets an individual owner create a survivorship deed by transferring title to the owner and another person as joint tenants or (if they are married) as tenants by the entirety.22 Joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety are described in the next section.

The term survivorship deed is informal in New Jersey. An estate-planning deed created to avoid probate through a right of survivorship is typically titled as a Bargain-and-Sale Deed or Quitclaim Deed.

What Are the Ways in Which Multiple Owners Can Jointly Own New Jersey Real Estate?

New Jersey law recognizes three forms of co-ownership in which co-owners can jointly hold title to real estate. The co-ownership forms have different characteristics that make them useful in different scenarios.

Tenancy in Common

Tenancy in common is New Jersey’s default co-ownership form. A New Jersey deed to two or more new owners creates a tenancy in common unless either (a) the deed specifies a different co-ownership form or (b) the new co-owners are married spouses.23

Tenants in common—also called co-tenants—have fractional, separately transferable ownership interests in the same property. New Jersey law assumes tenants in common have equal shares, but a deed can expressly create unequal interests. When co-tenants die, their interests go through probate and descend to their legal heirs or to a beneficiary named in a co-tenant’s will.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy’s defining feature is the right of survivorship—which lets a surviving joint tenant automatically receive a deceased joint tenant’s interest.24 A deceased joint tenant’s interest in New Jersey real estate does not go through probate due to the right of survivorship.

New Jersey co-owners who are joint tenants have equal undivided rights in the same property. They must obtain their interests at the same time through the same deed—except that a sole owner can transfer title to the owner and another person to create a joint tenancy.25

Tenancy by the Entirety

New Jersey’s third co-ownership form, tenancy by the entirety, is similar to a joint tenancy but is only possible for married co-owners.26 If tenants by the entirety divorce, they become tenants in common.

Tenancy by the entirety has a right of survivorship, so the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner upon the other spouse’s death.27 Tenancy by the entirety also protects property from attachment by creditors of one spouse.

A New Jersey deed to married spouses creates a tenancy by the entirety unless it specifically provides for a tenancy in common or joint tenancy.28 A deed intended to create a tenancy by the entirety typically identifies two new co-owners “as husband and wife” or otherwise indicates that the new co-owners are married.29 A sole owner can also create a tenancy by the entirety by recording a deed in favor of the owner and the owner’s spouse.30

Real Estate Ownership Through Trusts

Two or more persons can share possession and control of New Jersey real estate held in a revocable living trust. They first form the trust by preparing a trust instrument that defines the terms of the trust. The trust instrument designates the trust’s trustee (the person who manages and holds legal title to trust property) and its beneficiaries (the persons who enjoy the benefits of trust property). The current property owner then signs and records a deed that transfers the property to the trustee in the trustee capacity.31

New Jersey trust law allows the same person to be a trustee and a beneficiary of the same trust—as long as one person is not the trust’s only trustee and only beneficiary.32

What Are the Rules for Spousal Ownership of New Jersey Real Estate?

New Jersey has special rules governing property ownership by married individuals. Although the New Jersey Legislature abolished traditional dower and curtesy rights in 1980, other rules give married New Jersey residents rights in their spouses’ property.33 Married New Jersey property owners need to take their spouses’ rights into account when preparing deeds and creating estate plans.

New Jersey Homestead Rights

New Jersey law gives married spouses a right to joint possession of a property that the spouses use as their primary residence.34 A non-owner spouse’s right to possession survives a transfer by the other spouse.35 Both spouses must therefore sign a deed that transfers their residence—even if only one spouse holds legal title. The new homeowner may have trouble selling the property if only one spouse signed the deed through which the new owner took title.

Surviving Spouse’s Inheritance Rights

New Jersey law gives a surviving spouse a right to a substantial share of a deceased spouse’s estate assets, including real estate. A surviving spouse’s share depends on whether the other spouse left a will and has other potential heirs.

Spousal Intestate Share

A surviving spouse’s intestate share is the portion of a deceased spouse’s estate that the surviving spouse receives if the deceased spouse leaves no will. A spouse’s intestate share in New Jersey depends on whether one or both spouses have surviving descendants—that is, children or grandchildren.36

  • No surviving parent or descendants. A surviving spouse receives the entire estate if the deceased spouse leaves no surviving descendants or parents.37
  • Only shared descendants. A spouse’s intestate share is also the entire estate if neither spouse has a surviving descendant who is not also the other spouse’s descendant.38
  • Surviving parent and no surviving descendants. The surviving spouse receives 25 percent of the estate up to $200,000.00 (but not less than $50,000.00), plus three-fourths of the balance, if the deceased spouse has no surviving descendants but has a surviving parent.39
  • Descendant not descended from the other spouse. The surviving spouse receives 25 percent of the estate up to $200,000.00 (but not less than $50,000.00), plus one-half of the balance, if one or both spouses have a surviving descendant who is not the other spouse’s descendant.40

Spousal Elective Share

An elective share is an optional share in a deceased spouse’s estate that a surviving spouse can claim instead of the share under the deceased spouse’s will. New Jersey gives a surviving spouse a waivable elective share equal to one-third of the deceased spouse’s augmented estate.41 The augmented estate is the deceased spouse’s probate estate after deducting final expenses, administration costs, and estate debts.

The augmented estate also adds the value of assets (including real estate) the deceased spouse transferred during the marriage for less than fair consideration.42 However, the value of transferred property is not included in the augmented estate if the surviving spouse joined in or consented to the transfer.43 For that reason, New Jersey lawyers and title companies sometimes recommend that nonowner spouses sign deeds that transfer property solely owned by the other spouse.

Where Are Deeds Filed in New Jersey?

Each county has a county recording officer responsible for recording deeds and maintaining county land records. A county’s recording officer is either the county register or the county clerk.44

The recording officer assigns a unique book and page number or instrument number to each deed accepted for recording. A recorded deed provides third parties—such as future purchasers or creditors—effective notice of the deed and title transfer.45

Does New Jersey Allow Electronic Recording?

New Jersey allows counties to accept deeds filed electronically.46 Registered users can e-file deeds through third-party vendors retained by the county. County recording officer websites typically list the vendors the county uses. Individual counties that offer electronic recording can adopt their own rules and standards for e-filing.

What Is the Cost to File a New Jersey Deed?

The county clerk or register of deeds charges a recording fee when accepting a New Jersey deed for recording.47 The fee amount depends on the county and the nature of the deed. The standard statutory recording fee is $30.00 for the first page and $10.00 for each additional page. New Jersey also authorizes a $10.00 tax abstract fee and a $6.00 fee for each name that must be indexed over five.

Recording officers charge a $20.00 fee for noncompliance if a deed is submitted without the required cover sheet.48

Does New Jersey Charge a Transfer Tax for Real Estate Transfers?

New Jersey’s transfer tax consists of multiple related charges—collectively called the realty transfer fee—on deeds transferring title to New Jersey real estate.49 Each of the fees is calculated based on the consideration the transferee provides for the deed.50 For transfer tax purposes, consideration is the total sale price or other value given or to be given for the property, including any mortgages or debts assumed by the new owner.51

The current owner who is transferring the property is primarily responsible for paying the realty transfer fee—which must be paid to the clerk or register of deeds when filing a deed.52

New Jersey’s realty transfer fee is assessed according to the following schedule:

  • State basic fee. The State of New Jersey charges a basic transfer fee of $1.25 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof.
  • County basic fee. The county where the property is located charges a basic transfer fee of $0.50 per $500.00 of consideration.
  • Additional fee over $150,000.00. Deeds involving consideration over $150,000.00 require an additional fee of $0.75 for each $500.00 by which the consideration exceeds $150,000.00.
  • General purpose fee. A general-purpose fee is added to the transfer tax due if the consideration exceeds $350,000.00. The rate is $0.90 per $500.00 of consideration up to $550,000.00; then $1.40 per $500.00 up to $850,000.00; then $1.90 per $500.00 up to $1 million; and $2.15 per $500.00 for consideration exceeding $1 million.
  • Supplemental fee: New Jersey’s supplemental conveyance fee adds an additional $0.25 per $500.00 of consideration up to $150,000.00; $0.85 per $500.00 for amounts from $150,000.00 up to $200,000.00; and $1.40 per $500.00 for consideration over $200,000.00.53
  • Supplemental fee for new construction. Deeds transferring property on which there is a new construction require an additional supplemental fee of $1.00 per $500.00 up to $150,000.00.54 New construction is an entirely new improvement that was not previously occupied or used for any purpose.55
  • “Mansion tax” for transfers over $1 million. The new owner must pay an additional transfer fee equal to 1.00 percent of the total consideration if the deed transfers property for consideration over $1 million and the property is (a) Class 2 residential, (b) farm property if the property has a residential structure, (c) a cooperative unit, or (d) Class 4 commercial property.56

Which Deeds are Exempt from New Jersey’s Transfer Tax?

New Jersey law exempts or partially exempts certain categories of deeds from the realty transfer fee.57 To claim an exemption, a transferor or transferee must complete an affidavit that identifies the reason for the exemption.58

Complete Exemptions

The following types of deeds are exempt from New Jersey’s state and county realty transfer fee, general purpose fee, and supplemental fee.59

  • Transfers for consideration of less than $100.00;
  • Transfers between spouses or between parent and child;
  • Deeds that confirm or correct a deed that has already been recorded;
  • Deeds recorded within 90 days after the parties to the deed legally divorce;
  • Transfers in performance of a court’s final judgment;
  • Transfers from a deceased owner’s executor or estate administrator to an heir or devisee named in the deceased owner’s will;
  • Transfers to the state or federal government or an agency, instrumentality, or subdivision;
  • Transfers solely to attach or release security for a debt;
  • Deeds releasing a right of reversion;
  • Deeds previously recorded in another county and transfer tax paid;
  • Transfers following a sale for delinquent taxes or assessments;
  • Deeds to partition real estate;
  • Transfers by a receiver or bankruptcy trustee; and
  • Deeds curing a title defect or clearing a cloud on title.60

Partial Exemptions

The following deeds are partially exempt and do not require payment of the supplemental fee:

  • Deeds transferring low or moderate-income housing; and
  • Deeds transferring property owned and occupied by a senior citizen, blind person or disabled person.61

The second partial exemption is inapplicable if (a) the deed transfers property jointly owned with someone who is not the transferor’s spouse, and (b) the co-owner is not a senior citizen, blind, or disabled.

New Constructions

New Jersey also offers a partial exemption for new constructions. Deeds transferring property with new construction receive an 80 percent exemption from the state portion of the basic fee for consideration up to $150,000.00.62 However, those deeds still require payment of the supplemental new construction transfer fee of $1.00 per $500.00 consideration up to $150,000.00.63

Does New Jersey Require Any Additional Forms When Recording a Deed?

New Jersey law requires multiple additional forms when a deed is filed for recording. Some of the forms are not required with every type of deed. Our article about New Jersey’s deed recording requirements describes the additional forms in greater detail.

  • Cover sheet. Each county publishes its own cover sheet which, when completed, lists the information clerks need for indexing.64
  • Transfer tax exemption affidavit of consideration. Affidavits completed by the current owner (Form RTF-1) and new owner (Form RTF-1EE) give transfer tax or exemption information.
  • Seller’s residency form. The transferor completes one of several possible residency forms—depending on if the transferor is a New Jersey resident and must pay estimated income tax. N.J.S.A.§ 54A:8-8. See, e.g., Form GIT/REP-1 (non-resident sellers), Form GIT/REP-3 (New Jersey residents and exempt deeds), Form GIT/REP-4 (deeds with waiver of prepayment requirement), Form GIT/REP-4A (corrective deeds).
  • New construction affidavit. New Jersey requires an affidavit that states that property includes new construction when that is the case.65 Form RTF-1 (Affidavit of Consideration for Use by Seller) includes the necessary information within Section 6.

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  1. N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-2; see also N.J. Admin. Code § 13:45A-37.1 (defining deed).
  2. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-1.
  3. See, e.g., N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-3(a)(5)(c) (requiring deeds to identify the person who prepared the deed).
  4. K. Woodmere Assocs. v. Menk Corp., 720 A.2d 386 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1998).
  5. N.J.S.A. § 46:5-2.
  6. N.J.S.A. § 46:5-3; Palmarg Realty Co. v. Rehac, 404 A.2d 21 (N.J. 1979).
  7. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-6.
  8. See Somerset County v. Durling, 415 A.2d 371 (N.J. 1980).
  9. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-7.
  10. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-9.
  11. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-3.
  12. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-4.
  13. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-5.
  14. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-5.
  15. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-6.
  16. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-8.
  17. See Somerset County v. Durling, 415 A.2d 371 (N.J. 1980).
  18. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-9.
  19. N.J.S.A. § 46:4-8.
  20. See Content v. Dalton, 194 A. 286 (N.J. 1937).
  21. Hays v. Parumus Borough, 28 N.J. Tax 342 (April 17, 2015).
  22. N.J.S.A. §§ 46:3-17.1; 46:3-17.2(c).
  23. N.J.S.A. §§ 46:3-17; 46:3-17.3.
  24. Hays v. Parumus Borough, 28 N.J. Tax 342 (April 17, 2015).
  25. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.1.
  26. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.2(a).
  27. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.5.
  28. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.3.
  29. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.2.
  30. N.J.S.A. § 46:3-17.2(c).
  31. See N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-4(a).
  32. N.J.S.A. § 3B:31-19.
  33. N.J.S.A. § 3B: 28-2.
  34. N.J.S.A. § 3B:28-3.
  35. N.J.S.A. § 3B:28-3(a).
  36. N.J.S.A. § 3B:5-3.
  37. N.J.S.A. § 3B:5-3(a)(1).
  38. N.J.S.A. § 3B:5-3(a)(2).
  39. N.J.S.A. § 3B:5-3(b).
  40. N.J.S.A. § 3B:5-3(c).
  41. N.J.S.A. §§ 3B:8-1, 3B:8-10.
  42. N.J.S.A. § 3B:8-3.
  43. N.J.S.A. § 3B:8-5.
  44. N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-6(a).
  45. N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-12.
  46. See N.J.S.A. §§ 46:26A-1; 46:26A-5; 46:26a-8(h).
  47. N.J.S.A § 22A:4-4.1.
  48. N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-5(c).
  49. N.J.S.A. §§ 46:15-7(a)(1)-(3); 46:15-7.1; 46:15-7.2.
  50. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-7.
  51. N.J.S.A § 46:15-5(c).
  52. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-7(a).
  53. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-7.1.
  54. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-7.1(a)(2).
  55. N.J.S.A § 46:15-5(g).
  56. N.J.S.A § 46:15-7.2.
  57. N.J.S.A § 46:15-6(b).
  58. N.J.S.A § 46:15-6(b).
  59. N.J.S.A. §§ 46:15-10; 46:15-7.1(b).
  60. N.J.S.A § 46:15-5(a).
  61. N.J.S.A. §§ 46:15-7.1(b); 46:15-10; 46:15-10.1(a)(1) and (2).
  62. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-10.1(b).
  63. N.J.S.A. § 46:15-7.1(a)(2).
  64. N.J.S.A. § 46:26A-5(b).
  65. N.J.S.A § 46:15-6(c).