South Carolina law sets standards for execution of deeds and specifies certain information which deeds must include. A deed that is improperly executed or omits necessary information may be ineligible for recording or fail to make a valid conveyance.
Formatting Requirements for South Carolina Deeds
South Carolina does not have state-wide formatting specifications for deeds—though registers of deeds in many counties have adopted their own standards. South Carolina deeds are generally formatted as follows:
- Paper Size. South Carolina deeds should be printed on paper measuring at least 8 ½ x 11 inches (standard letter size) and not more than 8 ½ x 14 inches (legal size). Paper should be light enough in color to allow for copying.
- Font. Text within a deed should be printed in black ink using a font size of at least 10-point. Signatures may be written in either black or blue ink.
- Space for Recorder’s Stamp. The upper righthand corner of a deed’s first page should include a blank space measuring at least 3 x 3 inches to allow the register of deeds office to add its stamp upon filing.1
- Margins. All margins after the first page’s top margin should measure at least 1 inch.
- Legibility. Deeds must be fully legible and printed with sufficient clarity for creation of readable digital copies.
Content Requirements for South Carolina Deeds
- Conveyance Information. A South Carolina deed must adequately describe the conveyance made by the deed.2 Necessary information includes
- Names of the current owner (the grantor) and new owner (the grantee);
- Real estate interests transferred by the deed;
- A granting clause—also called vesting clause—transferring the real estate to the new owner;3
- Effective date of the transfer; and
- A statement of consideration (nominal consideration is acceptable).
- Warranty of Title. A deed must identify the form of deed and indicate what—if any—warranty of title the current owner provides to the new owner.4 South Carolina law recognizes general warranty, special warranty, and quitclaim deeds.
- New Owner Address. A South Carolina deed must state the mailing address of the person to whom the real estate is being transferred.5
- Legal Description of Real Estate. A deed must identify the transferred property by including a complete legal description.6 A deed may satisfy the legal-description requirement by referencing the book-and-page number of a recorded plat that sets forth a metes-and-bounds description of the property.7 Deeds customarily include within the legal description the district, map, and parcel number assigned by the county assessor and/or tax ID number—also called tax map sequence number.
- Street Address of Property. The property’s street address (if applicable) customarily appears directly beneath the legal description.
- Derivation Clause. South Carolina deeds must include a derivation clause.8 A derivation clause is a statement identifying the source of the current owner’s title to the real estate—typically the prior deed or probate estate through which the current owner acquired the property. A derivation clause identifying a prior deed should state the name of the prior owner, the prior deed’s recording date, and the prior deed’s book-and-page number. If the current owner took title through inheritance, the derivation clause should identify the name of the deceased prior owner, the approximate acquisition date, and the probate court in which the estate was administered. A South Carolina quitclaim deed need not include a derivation clause.
- Preparation Clause. South Carolina deeds customarily identify the person responsible for preparation of the document by name and address.9
- Confidential Personal Information. A South Carolina deed should not include any sensitive personal identifying information—such as Social Security number, driver’s license or passport number, financial account or credit card number, or passwords—unless expressly required by law, regulation, or court order.10
Execution Requirements for South Carolina Deeds
- Current Owner’s Signature. A South Carolina deed must include the original signature of the current owner (the grantor). Signatures should match and appear immediately above the signer’s printed or typed name in the deed.11
- Notarization. The current owner’s execution of the deed must be acknowledged before a notary or other authorized officer. Notarization should use substantially the same acknowledgement form as set forth in South Carolina’s statute.12
- Witnesses. The current owner’s signature must be acknowledged in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the deed.13
- Auditor’s Endorsement. The county auditor must endorse a deed—confirming that the transfer has been entered of record in the auditor’s office—before the deed can be recorded.14
Recording Fees for South Carolina Deeds
- Recording. Each South Carolina county has an office of the register of deeds responsible for maintaining land records in the county. The register of deeds office is part of the clerk of court’s office in some counties. A few counties still use the traditional name register of mesne conveyance (or RMC).15 The person requesting recording must submit the deed and recording fee to the register of deeds of the county where the real estate is located.16
- Recording Fees. The filing fee required when filing a South Carolina deed is $15.00.17 The filing fee and deed recording fee are due at the time of filing.
South Carolina Transfer Tax and Exempt Deeds
- Deed Recording Fee. South Carolina imposes a transfer tax—called a deed recording fee—payable when a deed is submitted for recording.18 The fee rate is $1.85 for each $500.00 of the transferred property’s value.19 Local governments can charge additional transfer fees under their home rule authority.20
- Calculation of Property Value for Deed Recording Fee. A property’s value when calculating the deed recording fee is the consideration provided for the transfer. Consideration includes money, property or forgiveness or cancellation of debt, assumption of debt, and the surrendering of a right.21 Value is the property’s fair market value if the deed transfers real estate from a business entity or trust to an owner or trust beneficiary.22
- Affidavit for Taxable or Exempt Transfers. The person requesting recording—typically the new owner—must provide a completed affidavit for taxable or exempt transfers when submitting a deed for recording. The affidavit attests to the property’s value or—for exempt transactions—states the basis for the exemption.
- Exempt Deeds. Certain categories of deeds—including deeds conveying real estate from a deceased person’s estate or living trust to a beneficiary—are legally exempt from South Carolina’s deed recording fee.23 South Carolina’s deed recording fee statute lists additional exempt deeds as follows:24
- Deeds transferring real estate valued at $100.00 or less;
- Deeds transferring real estate to a government agency including school districts;
- Deeds exempt from transfer tax under the U.S. or state constitution or laws;
- Deeds transferring real estate in which no gain or loss is realized for tax purposes;
- Transfers for partitions of real estate if no consideration is paid other than real estate interests exchanged to effect the partition;
- Transfer of an individual grave space by a licensed cemetery company;
- Deeds that constitute a contract for timber to be cut;
- Deeds transferring real estate to a business entity or trust to become an owner or beneficiary of the entity or trust—as long as no additional consideration is exchanged;
- Deeds transferring real estate from a family partnership or family trust to a partner or beneficiary—as long as no additional consideration is provided for the transfer;
- Deeds relating to a statutory merger or consolidation of a corporation;
- Deeds relating to a merger or consolidation of a partnership;
- Deeds correcting a prior deed or confirming title already held by the person receiving the deed;
- Deeds conveying real estate to a mortgage holder in foreclosure proceedings and deeds in lieu of foreclosure;
- Transfers from an agent to a principal if the agent purchased the property using the principal’s funds; and
- Certain transfers of facilities for transmitting electricity.
- See S.C. Code Regs. §12-501.1.
- See S.C. Code §27-7-10; S.C. Code §30-9-30.
- See Bennett v. Investors Title Ins. Co., 635 S.E. 2d 660 (S.C. Ct. App. 2006).
- See S.C. Code §27-7-10; S.C. Code §27-7-20.
- S.C. Code §30-5-35(a).
- S.C. Code §30-5-35(a).
- S.C. Code §30-5-250.
- S.C. Code §30-5-35(a).
- Legislation amending S.C. Code §30-5-35(a) to expressly require preparation clauses in South Carolina deeds has been introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly but has not been enacted into law as of December, 2021.
- S.C. Code §30-2-330(A).
- S.C. Code §30-5-30(B).
- S.C. Code §30-5-30(A) and (C).
- S.C. Code §30-5-30(B); S.C. Code §27-7-10.
- S.C. Code §30-5-80.
- See S.C. Clerk of Court Manual, §8.0 (S.C. Sup. Ct., May 21, 2014).
- S.C. Code §30-5-90; S.C. Code §30-7-10.
- S.C. Code §8-21-310(A)(1).
- S.C. Code §12-24-10.
- S.C. Code §12-24-10(A).
- Williams v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 429 S.E.2d 802 (S.C. 1993).
- S.C. Code §12-24-30(A).
- S.C. Code §12-24-30(A).
- S.C. Code §12-24-10(B).
- S.C. Code §12-24-40(1 – 15).