Kathy Henne: One good deed


Whether buying or selling real estate, you will eventually come face to face with the one document which transfers title from seller to buyer – the “deed.” The actual transfer of ownership takes place when the deed has been “signed, sealed, and delivered” to the purchaser.

Historically, under English common law, the transfer of real estate took place in a ceremony called “livery of seizen.” The owner would meet the purchaser on the land, and hand over a twig or clod of dirt. Although a written statement of the sale followed, it was the ceremony that signified that a sale had taken place.

Today it is the written document, the deed, which marks the conclusion of the sale. To be valid, a deed must be in writing, and name both the grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer). It is signed only by the grantor and must be notarized. Such deeds should be drafted by an attorney.

A good deed also contains a “legal description” of the property being conveyed. The property must be described so as to leave no doubt about exactly what real estate is being transferred.

Finally, a deed must be signed, sealed and delivered. The transaction is not consummated until the signed, sealed and notarized deed is conveyed to the buyer. The deed is recorded at the court house and then returned to the buyer. You should put your deed in a safe place, but if it is lost you can get a copy from the court house.

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