Buying Property with a Quitclaim Deed in Massachusetts

A Quitclaim? No problem. It’s Common Practice Here — and Safeguarding Your Title Is Straightforward.

Image of the outside of a very colorful, ornately decorated house in Massachusetts. Captioned: A Quitclaim Deed In Massachusetts, No Problem.

Three major Massachusetts real estate deeds are commonly used: the quitclaim deed, the warranty deed, and the release deed. In contrast to most other places, Massachusetts home buyers receive their property through quitclaim deeds. So, we need to delve into the use of the quitclaim deed in Massachusetts.

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Bargain and Sale vs. Quitclaim Deeds: A Concise Guide

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Are you looking to buy a home though a bargain and sale deed? Perhaps you’re buying after a foreclosure, or from an estate or a court-ordered sale. If so, the entity granting the deed to you might lack knowledge of the property’s history. Basically, the deed means a buyer is expected to accept the house as-is.

How does this differ from a quitclaim deed? What rights and protections does the bargain and sale deed give you, the new owner? Let’s take a look.

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Defending a Quitclaim Deed

Image of two people practicing martial arts captioned Defending a Quitclaim Deed.

The quitclaim is famous for being the simplest way to give up an interest in real estate. Unlike a warranty deed, the quitclaim grants whatever interest a person has to the other person, but offers no assurances that the title is clear.

Once a quitclaim is signed and recorded, can the deed be challenged in court? Yes, it can. Recording your deed only provides notice of your ownership claim to the public. It does not guarantee ownership.

Because quitclaims make no guarantees about the property’s title or condition, a court that hears a challenge to your deed will simply be examining the quitclaim to find out if the transfer was legally correct. So, if you received an interest through a quitclaim deed, you’ll want to be able to show that the grantor properly conveyed the deed to you. In this article, we take a look at why you might hold a quitclaim deed in the first place, and how to hold onto your property if that deed is challenged.

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Don’t Quit Your Claim! A Quitclaim Deed Is Not a Mortgage Saving or Estate Planning Tool

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A quitclaim deed conveys—”quits”—a person’s interest in a property to someone else. Quitclaims prove useful in certain transfers of properties among family members or between divorcing spouses. The quitclaim allows separating partners to follow a court’s direction and leave one party as sole owner of the marital home. Quitclaims might seem convenient in other circumstances, but they are rarely the best choice. 

In contrast to the warranty deed, a quitclaim deed offers no assurances of clear title. In most jurisdictions a recorder of deeds must simply record a quitclaim deed; it is not the recorder’s role to investigate the circumstances of the conveyance.

Scammers may take advantage of the quitclaim’s simplicity to siphon equity from vulnerable people. After recording a quitclaim, a bad actor may sell the property with no guarantees, rent it under false pretenses, or exploit its underlying value as collateral.

Spot the Mortgage Relief Scam

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Adding Your Spouse to the Deed

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You’ve just gotten married, and already own a house in your own name. You want to share everything with your spouse, including your real estate, so adding their name to the title is part of being married, correct? Well … maybe. Much depends on the terms of your mortgage, and whether your spouse has serious credit issues. Before adding your spouse to the deed, speak with your attorney.

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Removing Someone from a Real Estate Deed

Removing someone from a deed—is it possible? The short answer: No.

Misconceptions and Realities

Image of two people at a desk with real estate deed discussing removing one of them from the deed.

It is a misconception that someone can be “removed” from the deed.

Nor can a co-owner simply take away another party’s interest in a property by executing a new deed without that other party.

In short, no one can be passively removed from a title.

Even if an owner “added” someone else to the real estate deed previously, the first owner cannot reconsider and take the second person off the deed.

Why?

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The Quitclaim Deed and Fraudulent Real Estate Transactions

Image of a safe fashioned in the shape of a house with hand reaching to open- article discussing quitclaim deeds and their role in fraudulent real estate transactions.

Quitclaim deeds show up commonly in fraudulent real estate transactions. This type of deed fraud can impact elderly people, buyers purchasing real estate from strangers without warranty, renters who are paying someone who is not a legitimate owner, and anyone involved who might buy, sell, or own property.

Here, we examine how it happens and how to detect it.

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The Quitclaim Deed’s Function in a Contract for Deed Sale

A contract for deed sale can present a convenient alternative to the traditional real estate conveyance. In this owner-financed deal, the buyer usually lives on the property upon the execution of the contract. While enjoying the property, the buyer pays for it in monthly installments, until the agreed-upon price has been paid in full.

Down the road, when full payment is complete, the purchaser formally acquires the title deed. This event occurs through a warranty deed, which guarantees that the seller is the sole party with any claim on the property to be conveyed – no exceptions, unless stated on the deed.

If things don’t go as planned, and the buyer defaults, recovery of the property can be a time-consuming process. Defaults happen, so a seller should consider having the buyer sign a quitclaim deed as part of the execution of the contract. A quitclaim is a non-warranty deed. It conveys property with no warranty for the title. Through this document, if it becomes needed, the buyer will relinquish any claim on the property. 

Here, we look at how the contract for deed sale works, and briefly examine the function of the quitclaim deed.

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What is a Quit Claim Deed?

What is a quit claim deed?

There are various ways to transfer a real estate title, and among the simplest is a quit claim deed. The person is literally quitting their claim to the property. Just because it’s the simplest method does not mean it’s the best, however, especially if you are the recipient of the property. That’s because the quit claim deed does not guarantee that the grantor – the person transferring the property – actually owns the real estate in question. The grantee, or person receiving the property, not only could end up with a worthless deed, but cannot sue the grantor if it turns out that individual did not own the property or owned only a percentage of the land or buildings. However, if fraud is involved, it is possible to sue the grantor on those grounds. That does not mean you should always avoid quit claim deeds, but it does mean you should do your research.

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Quit Claim Deeds after Divorce or Dissolution

Quit claim deeds convey the current owner’s rights in real property, if any, to new owners. The transfer may or may not include consideration (something of value, usually money). They are generally used to clear clouded titles, to settle boundary disputes between neighbors, or to make gifts of real property, and include no warranties of title for the new owners.

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