Washington Special Warranty Deed Form

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What is a Washington Special Warranty Deed?

A Washington special warranty deed form conveys Washington real estate from the current owner (grantor) to a new owner (grantee) with a warranty of title that is limited to the period that the grantor owned the property. The grantor is responsible for his or her ownership of the property, but not for any title issues that arose before he or she owned the property.

Unlike the other Washington deed forms that are based in the Revised Code of Washington, a Washington special warranty deed was developed by attorneys through usage and custom. It has no legislative origin and is not explicitly recognized in the Washington statutes. The Washington statutes authorize a bargain and sale deed that works in much the same way as a special warranty deed.

Relationship of Special Warranty Deed Form to Warranty of Title

A Washington special warranty deed form is defined by its warranty of title. The warranty of title provided by a special warranty deed is limited in the sense that it only applies to the period that the grantor owned the property. The grantor is responsible for anything that the grantor did or allowed to happen while the grantor owned the property. The grantor is not responsible for any title issues relating to the period before the grantor owned the property.

The limited warranty of title distinguishes a special warranty deed from a statutory warranty deed form, which provides a full warranty of title, and a quit claim deed form, which provides no warranty of title. Like a bargain and sale deed, a special warranty deed provides a middle ground between these two other deed forms.

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.

Special Warranty Deed vs. Bargain and Sale Deed

Both a bargain and sale deed form and a special warranty deed form provide warranties that are limited to the time when the grantor owned the property. This raises common questions: Given that both deeds are functionally similar, what is the difference between the two? Why would one choose one form over the other? There are two primary differences between bargain and sale deeds and special warranty deeds:

  • Legal Origin – A bargain and sale deed was authorized by the Washington legislature and is based in the Washington statutes. A special warranty deed was designed by attorneys over time and lacks the same legal basis as a bargain and sale deed.
  • Nature of Warranty – A bargain and sale deed contains implied If the deed qualifies as a bargain and sale deed, the warranties are included by law, even if they are not written in the deed. A special warranty deed contains no implied warranties. The warranties must be spelled out in the deed.

In deciding whether to choose a special warranty deed versus a bargain and sale deed, many people prefer the legal certainty and well-developed law that applies to bargain and sale deeds. For these people, a bargain and sale deed is often the better choice. Special warranty deeds are more often used in fairly specific situations, such as deeds from personal representatives or other fiduciaries.

How to Create a Washington Special Warranty Deed

Because a Washington special warranty deed is not authorized by statute, it has been developed as a matter of custom. At a minimum, the deed should include language that disclaims all implied warranties and expressly includes the warranties that the parties want to include. A special warranty deed must also meet the requirements that apply more generally to Washington deeds, including a valid legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title, font size and page format requirements, and signature and notarization requirements.

Each Washington special warranty deed must comply with Washington law. Even a single word difference can invalidate a deed or cause hidden title problems that require costly litigation to resolve. Each Washington deed prepared by our online deed preparation service was attorney-designed to meet the requirements of Washington law and be eligible for recording in all Washington counties.