Special Warranty Deed

Special Warranty Deed Protects Seller
What makes a Special Warranty Deed different from a General Warranty Deed?  In short, a Special Warranty Deed adds a measure of protection for the seller that a General Warranty Deed does not.  When you purchase property and the seller transfers title to you in the form of a Special Warranty Deed, the seller is esentially saying that he will guarantee (or warrant) that nothing has happened to cloud the title to the property while he has owned it.

In other words, that he has not done anything that will give rise to a future mechanic's lien and nothing has happened on or regarding the property that might result in a judgment lien or lis pendens being filed against the property.  This serves to limit the time frame for which the seller can be held liable.

General Warranty Deed Protects Buyer
A General Warranty Deed, on the other hand, guarantees (or warrants) that title to the property is clear from time immemorial.  This provides an additional layer of security to the buyer.  For instance, suppose the seller has owned the property for one month.  Suppose also that the owner before him had hired a contractor to perform work on the property one month before selling it to the current owner, but failed to pay the contractor for the work performed.  The contractor might still be entitled to file a construction lien on the property even though ownership of the property has changed hands.  A General Warranty Deed would make the current owner liable for clearing up the mechanic's lien before selling the property while a Special Warranty Deed would not.

If you are the buyer, in most cases you would want to insist on a General Warranty Deed over a Special Warranty Deed.

As a general rule regarding title to property, the General Warranty Deed provides the Buyer more protection than a Special Warranty Deed, and a Special Warranty Deed provides the Buyer more protection than a Quit Claim Deed.  For more information on how a Quit Claim Deed works, read my article on the difference between the Quit Claim Deed and the Warranty Deed.
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