Suing a Prior Owner Under Warranty Deed Covenants

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The Length of a Deed’s Warranty May Vary

Most people have the general idea that by transferring a home with a warranty deed, a seller makes binding promises to a buyer. But what do most of us know about those promises — unless and until something goes wrong later, and legal action is contemplated?

A warranty deed offers its recipient significant assurances. It’s good to know what promises the seller is making, and how long they cover the buyer. These promises, called covenants, assert that the seller has the legal right to sell, that the title is good, and, in certain cases, that the seller is willing to defend the title against future challenges.  

To lay this out clearly, a warranty deed is a seller’s promise that:

  • The seller owns the property to be conveyed.
  • The seller has full rights to convey title to a new owner.
  • The title is clear.
  • The seller agrees to “warrant and forever defend” the title being conveyed.

Note: State law where a property is located sets forth the language through which deeds convey titles. Owners can check the deed language in the state where the property is located for the words “warrant and forever defend” or similar terminology.

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