What Is a Deed?

A deed is a legal document that represents the transfer of ownership of real property (like land or a building) from one person or entity (the seller or grantor) to another (the buyer or grantee). This document contains important details about the property, such as its description and the grantor’s and grantee’s names.

When the deed is signed and notarized by the grantor and delivered to the grantee, it effectively transfers the ownership rights to the grantee.

What Are the Types of Deeds in Florida?

In Florida, there are three common types of real estate deeds, each serving different purposes in property transactions:

  1. Warranty Deed: This is a commonly used deed type in real estate transactions. It provides the highest level of protection for the buyer. The seller (grantor) guarantees they have clear ownership of the property and the legal right to sell it. The warranty deed assures the buyer (grantee) that the property is free from encumbrances or liens and that the seller will defend against any future claims to the property’s title.
  2. Quitclaim Deed: This type of deed offers the least protection to the buyer. It is often used to transfer property between family members or clear up a title issue. The grantor in a quitclaim deed transfers whatever interest they have in the property, but there are no warranties or guarantees about the quality of the title or even if the grantor has a valid interest in the property.
  3. Lady Bird Deed: Unique to Florida and a few other states, a Lady Bird Deed (also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed) allows a property owner to transfer property upon their death automatically without the need for probate. The owner retains control over the property during their lifetime, including the right to sell or mortgage it, and names a beneficiary who will receive the property upon the owner’s death. This type of deed is useful for estate planning purposes.

Each of these deeds serves a specific purpose in property transactions and estate planning, and the choice of which to use depends on the circumstances of the transfer and the level of protection desired by the parties involved.

Cost to Obtaining a Deed in Florida

The cost of obtaining a deed can vary widely based on several factors, including the type of deed, the complexity of the transaction, and geographic location. In Florida, the costs associated with getting a deed typically include:

  1. Preparation Fees: If you hire a lawyer or a professional service to prepare the deed, fees can vary. For simple deeds like quitclaim deeds, the cost might be relatively low, but more complex deeds or transactions might incur higher fees.
  2. Recording Fees: After the deed is prepared and signed, it needs to be recorded with the local county clerk’s or recorder’s office. Recording fees are generally not excessively high if the property is not mortgaged. The fee may be based on the number of pages in the document or a flat rate.
  3. Other Associated Costs: Depending on the specifics of the transaction, there might be additional costs for title searches, title insurance, notary fees, and possibly real estate transfer taxes or stamps. These costs are more common in transactions involving the sale of property using a warranty deed.

How to Look Up a Deed in Florida

Looking up a real estate deed in Florida is a process that can usually be done online, as most counties have public records accessible through their official websites. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Identify the Relevant County: First, determine the county where the property is located. Property records, including deeds, are maintained by the county where the property is situated.
  2. Visit the County Clerk’s or Property Appraiser’s Website: Go to the website of the county clerk or property appraiser for the county in question. For example, if the property is in Miami-Dade County, you would visit the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s or Property Appraiser’s website.
  3. Search the Public Records: Most county websites have a public records section where you can search for property records. You may need to know the property’s address, the owner’s name, or the parcel identification number.
  4. Accessing the Deed: Once you find the property listing, you should be able to view details about the property and access documents like the deed. Some counties provide these documents for free online, while others may charge a small fee for downloading or printing them.
  5. Offline Search: If online resources are not available or if you prefer to do it in person, you can visit the county clerk’s office. Staff there can assist you in finding the deed. You might need to pay a fee for copies.
Gideon Alper

About the Author

Gideon Alper is an attorney who specializes in asset protection planning. He graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and has over 15 years of legal experience.

Gideon has helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors. Before private practice, he represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

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