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Guaranteed Clarity: What is a Special Warranty Deed?

What is a Special Warranty Deed? This type of deed offers unique protections and assurances that differ from other warranty deeds, affecting the buyer and the seller in distinct ways. Read on as we explore the answer to “What is a Special Warranty Deed?” and delve into its specific nuances, benefits, and limitations to provide guaranteed clarity on the subject.

Real estate investors Steve Daria and Joleigh have often leveraged Special Warranty Deeds in their property transactions to protect their investments. They maximize their confidence in each deal by understanding its unique assurances and limitations.

What Is a Special Warranty Deed?

What is a special warranty deed, exactly? A Special Warranty Deed is a document used in real estate that affirms property ownership and promises that the seller has not done anything during their ownership that would cause the title to be defective.  

The Special Warranty Deed stands out for its unique approach to protecting the property’s title

what is a special warranty deed

It is called “special” because it only protects against issues that arose during the seller’s ownership—not before, unlike a General Warranty Deed, which protects against all defects in the title throughout the property’s history.

When and Why Would You Use a Special Warranty Deed?

A Special Warranty Deed is typically used under certain circumstances, including:

Commercial Properties

Special Warranty Deeds are commonly used to protect the seller, mainly when corporate assets are involved.

Foreclosures and Tax Sales

In these cases, the seller is the foreclosing lender or a governmental entity, which may need to have the detailed knowledge of the property’s entire history that a traditional seller would.

Historic Properties

When a property’s history is complex, such as one that has changed hands multiple times, a Special Warranty Deed could limit the seller’s liability.

Short Sales

If a lender initiates a short sale, the Special Warranty Deed protects the lender from unknown claims that could cloud the property’s title.

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Navigating the Advantages and Disadvantages of Special Warranty Deeds

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s essential to grasp the upsides and downsides offered by Special Warranty Deeds. Here are a few to consider:

Advantages of a Special Warranty Deed

  • Protection to the Buyer: If a property’s title has a hidden defect, the Special Warranty Deed obligates the seller to rectify the issue or compensate the buyer.
  • Lower Sale Cost: Special Warranty Deeds are often associated with a lower sale cost, as they do not require the exact comprehensive title search as a General Warranty Deed.

Disadvantages of a Special Warranty Deed

  • Limited Scope of Protection: The primary disadvantage is its limited scope of protection, which can be narrower than that of a Special Warranty Deed. 
  • Potential Gaps in Coverage: Unlike a General Warranty Deed, which offers blanket coverage for the entire title history, Special Warranty Deeds leave gaps that the buyer must be aware of and handle cautiously. 

Special Warranty Deed vs. Quitclaim Deed: Pitfalls to Avoid

When discussing property transactions, the Quitclaim Deed is commonly confused with a Special Warranty Deed. 

They offer vastly different levels of protection and can result in significantly different outcomes for the parties involved.

Special Warranty Deed vs. Quitclaim Deed

  • Special Warranty Deed: Guarantees the property’s title, backed by the seller’s reputation and financial ability to rectify the situation if a defect arises.
  • Quitclaim Deed: Offers no such protection. It merely states that the current owner is transferring whatever interest they have in the property — with no warranty as to the extent or legality of their ownership interest.

Avoiding Misuse of Deeds in Transactions

Understanding the implications of deeds is critical to avoiding pitfalls. 

Sellers and buyers should carefully consider which type of deed will meet their needs

A seller should not offer a Quitclaim when the buyer expects a Special Warranty; buyers should not accept a Quitclaim when expecting a warranty. 

Maximizing Protection with a Special Warranty Deed

For buyers, a Special Warranty Deed’s protections can provide reassurance that the seller will step in to resolve or mitigate the problem if a title issue arises. 

Conducting a Thorough Title Search

Before closing a deal, a thorough search of the property’s title history should be conducted. 

This search can reveal any existing liens, claims, or other issues affecting the property’s value or the buyer’s ability to use it as intended.

what is special warranty deed

Obtaining Title Insurance

Title insurance is a crucial layer of protection the buyer can obtain to cover against any errors or omissions in the title search

This insurance will provide financial compensation if an issue that needs to be identified during the initial search arises.

Negotiating Additional Clauses

Buyers should consider adding clauses to the sales contract that further protect their interests, such as requiring the seller to cure any title defects before the sale becomes final.

Special Warranty Deeds in Different States: What to Watch For

Real estate law and practices can vary significantly from state to state. 

Buyers and sellers should know how Special Warranty Deeds are viewed and utilized in their region.

Overview of Special Warranty Deeds in Florida

Special Warranty Deeds are a standard means of transferring property in Florida, and buyers are generally well-protected under the state’s real estate laws. 

However, the requirement for seller disclosures, the legal timeline for bringing a claim, and other specific regulations can differ between states.

Both parties must familiarize themselves with the local laws and customs to ensure a successful transaction.

Special Considerations in Understanding Local Practices

Different states may have specific rules regarding the use of Special Warranty Deeds. 

For example, some states may require specific language or notifications within the deed, while others may limit the property types for which a Special Warranty Deed is appropriate. 

Working with a renowned real estate attorney or agent to guide you through the local requirements is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about Special Warranty Deeds to help clarify their role and implications in real estate transactions:

When is a Special Warranty Deed typically used?

In commercial properties, foreclosures, tax sales, historic properties, and short sales.

What are the main advantages of a Special Warranty Deed?

It protects the buyer from issues arising during the seller’s ownership and is often associated with a lower sale cost.

What are the primary disadvantages of a Special Warranty Deed?

The limited scope of protection and potential gaps in coverage for issues before the seller’s ownership.


Property protection is paramount in the intricate world of real estate. Understanding what is a Special Warranty Deed is a powerful tool that buyers and sellers can leverage to safeguard their investments. By wielding this knowledge effectively, you can ensure that your next real estate transaction is not just a hard-won deal but also a foundation for future prosperity and security in the real estate world. 

The adage “knowledge is power” rings particularly true in property law. Equip yourself with a deep understanding of what is a Special Warranty Deed, and see how your real estate ventures can ascend to new heights of success and peace of mind.

**NOTICE:  Please note that the content presented in this post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal or financial advice or relied upon as a replacement for consultation with a qualified attorney or CPA. For specific guidance on legal or financial matters, readers are encouraged to seek professional assistance from an attorney, CPA, or other appropriate professional regarding the subject matter.

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