What Is a Deed of Conveyance?

Terry Masters

A deed of conveyance, also referred to as a deed, is a document that evidences ownership of real property. It is required to transfer property from one person to another. To be valid, a deed must conform to certain legal conventions that are required by the real property law in the applicable jurisdiction. The law will typically require a deed to be signed by the buyer and the seller of the property in front of witnesses or a notary, delivered, and recorded in the local land registry for the transfer of interest to be valid.

A deed of conveyance must be notarized.
A deed of conveyance must be notarized.

Deeds are legal documents. The importance of the private ownership of property in jurisdictions with legal systems based on English common law has made the deed into an indispensable instrument to prove who has the legal title to a parcel of land. A deed of conveyance operates much like a contract, in that the form of the instrument determines whether it is valid and legally enforceable. Anyone using a deed to transfer property to another person must follow the proper legal steps and craft the deed to satisfy all requirements under the law in order to ensure the validity of the transfer.

A deed of conveyance, also referred to as a deed, is a document that evidences ownership of real property.
A deed of conveyance, also referred to as a deed, is a document that evidences ownership of real property.

A deed of conveyance can be handwritten or typed, created ad hoc or by a specialist, but in all cases the deed must adhere to certain traditional formalities. The document must use the word deed in the title, and it must state that it conveys a certain interest in property. Any person transferring property must have the legal right to do so, and the person receiving it must be legally competent. Each party must sign the document, not necessarily at the same time, and each signature must be witnessed and notarized. The deed must be delivered to the receiving party, accepted, and, in some jurisdictions, recorded with the local land registry in order to satisfy the contractual requirement of mutual assent.

Typically, a deed can contain a number of specific warranties and covenants that define what is being transferred from one party to another. The conditions that can be added to a deed may differ depending on jurisdiction. A deed of conveyance that purports to transfer only what the owner actually owns, with no warranties regarding title, is called a quitclaim deed, while a deed where the owner makes specific representations that the title to the property is clear is commonly called a general warranty deed. Covenants included in a deed limit the promises made by the owner in some respect and can address any number of issues relating to the property.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- You've hit on a lot of reasons that central land registries were established in the United States. Some of those old, sloppy land records still give title researchers fits when they are trying to research the history of a piece of land.


If memory serves, a deed must always be recorded to be valid. That's the state of things in the United States, at least. If a deed is not recorded with the county clerk's officer (or wherever the official land registrar is), how can a land record be researched? In most instances, only properly recorded documents can be used to establish the history of a piece of land and determine who owns it and can transfer it.

Otherwise, there would be no centralized land records and no way to establish ownership of anything.

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