GRANTOR VS GRANTEE: The Difference And What It Means In Real Estate

A grantor vs a grantee deed of trust in real estate.
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There’s nothing more soothing than living in your dream home. And of course, lots of considerations and resources to make this dream come true, ranging from the environment to the smallest detail. But to real estate lawyers, it is merely the exchange of ownership rights. Knowledge of the legal language used in real estate is a ‘must know’ in the quest for a new home. It can be intimidating, hence the need for every future owner to familiarize themselves with these terms. Let’s put an end to that intimidation, shall we? With that in mind, this article will take you through the difference between a grantor vs a grantee deed of trust in real estate.

Grantor vs Grantee

In every business, there are two sides to the transaction- the buyer and the seller. In this context, the grantor is the seller, and the grantee is the buyer. It is pertinent to understand the difference between grantor and grantee. 

A Grantor

The grantor is the one who transfers the property rights to the grantee. In other words, the grantor is the seller or current owner of the property. For example, the landlord is the grantor in a rent or lease agreement and is also the first party in a transaction.

A Grantee

In simple terms, the grantee is the buyer or one who receives the property right after the closing occurs. For example, the tenant in a lease or rent agreement is the grantee and is also the second party in a transaction. The lessee has fewer rights to live on the property based on terms agreed in the rental agreement.

Grantor vs Grantee Deed In Real Estate

The grantor vs grantee is typically the individual who carries out an exchange transaction in real estate. However, they can be a company or organization. For example, a city might seize hundreds of properties for unpaid taxes.

A grantor vs. grantee relationship in real estate doesn’t have to be an outright sale. It can also be a conditional or temporary relationship. A practical illustration is a lessor/lessee relationship. In this setting, the lessor (landlord) grants temporary occupancy in exchange for monthly rent payments. The lessee (tenant) agrees to pay on time in exchange for their occupancy, concerning the terms agreed on in the rental agreement.

A good example of a grantor vs grantee conditional relationship in real estate is a mortgage. In this case, the lender (grantor) holds a claim on the title until the homeowner (grantee) has paid off their mortgage. The homeowner agrees to make payments in exchange for the removal of the claim when payment is complete.

Grantor vs Grantee Deed

A grantor vs grantee transfer of ownership in real estate involves lots of complex processes due to the laws involved. Before diving in, it is important to know the meaning of a deed. Now, a deed is a legal tool used by the grantor to transfer the title to the grantee. It is an indication that the title has not been granted to another person.

A grantor vs grantee deed must identify both parties and contain a clear description of the asset in question to avoid clashes between both parties. Different kinds of deeds are used in real estate transactions. Here are the most common ones.

General Warranty Deed

A general warranty deed offers the most protection for the grantee. In this kind of deed, the grantor doesn’t just promise that they hold a clean title; they also agree to pay legal fees if a third party claims the title. The legally binding promises made by the grantor, called covenants, agree to protect the grantee against prior claims to the property.

When a seller signs a general warranty deed, they completely swear that there are no undisclosed title issues with the property. This promise even covers the time before the grantor’s ownership. If a problem with the title does arise, the grantor must pay the associated legal costs.

This is typically used where the grantor and grantee are strangers and money is changing hands. A general warranty deed will almost always be required when the buyer is obtaining a mortgage to finance the purchase.

Grant Deed

This is the most common type of real estate sale. It is also known as a limited warranty deed. It gives some, but not all of the assurances that a general warranty deed gives.

With a grant deed, the grantor guarantees that they have disclosed any claims or restrictions that they are aware of. They also guarantee that they haven’t sold the property to any third party.

But this does not protect the buyer from claims made before the grantor owned the property and as such, makes no promise to pay legal costs of defending any title claims. This type of deed only protects from any current or outstanding issues with the property ownership, thus offering some protection to the grantor against issues they may be unaware of. It’s typically used by temporary owners, like lenders, who acquire the property through foreclosure and then try to sell it quickly. Many purchasers of real estate will insist on a general warranty deed to protect against problems that could arise as a result of a special warranty deed. 

Quitclaim Deed

With a quitclaim deed, the grantor makes no guarantees of any kind. They simply sign over whatever ownership rights they possess – and there’s a chance they may not have any rights whatsoever. With this arrangement, there are virtually no protections for the grantee.

Quitclaim deeds are seldom used in typical real estate transactions. They are much more common when transferring property ownership among family members, into or out of the grantor’s trust or business. They can also be employed in correcting errors in a warranty deed. Additionally, quitclaim deeds can be useful in estate planning when transferring property into a trust. Due to the lack of protection, though, both the grantor and grantee should confirm that they are comfortable with the parameters of a quitclaim deed before moving forward.

Special Warranty Deed

In real estate, a special warranty deed is a legal document where the seller of a property, also known as the grantor, warrants only against anything that happened during their physical ownership of a property. In simple terms, the grantor does not guarantee against any issues that existed before the grantor took ownership of the property.

As a result, in terms of a special warranty deed, the grantor is only liable for debts or other issues that happened when they owned the property. This may come into play if the buyer of the property discovers an issue, but the seller can prove the issue existed before they took ownership.

This type of deed is used frequently in connection with court proceedings and for those signing a deed in an official capacity. This means the person is not offering a personal warranty, but simply carrying out their defined functions.

It is similar to a grant deed, but with an additional layer of protection. It states clearly that the property has not been sold to anyone else and that there are no claims or restrictions other than the issues the buyer is already aware of. The additional layer of protection is that the special guarantee deed defends the title from claims of all persons or entities, including previous owners.


A special warranty deed contains additional information than the standard information contained in a general deed. This includes:

  • The grantor’s name
  • The grantee’s name
  •  The address of the property.
  • A statement that the grantor wants to transfer the property to the grantee.
  • A warranty that the grantor is the rightful owner of the property and has the legal right to transfer the property.
  • The warranty also states that the property is free-and-clear of all liens and that there are no outstanding claims on the property from any creditors or other individuals.
  • That the grantor will do whatever is necessary to make good the grantee’s title to the property.

In addition to the above, to qualify as a special warranty deed, the deed must also state that:

  • There are no outstanding claims against the property that were instituted by any creditor or other individual during the grantor’s ownership period.
  • A guarantee that the grantor had a clear title of the property only during their time of ownership.
  • That, if there is an issue with the title during that period the grantee is not entitled to compensation from the grantor. As a result, the guarantee does not cover the time before the grantor became the owner of the property.

Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure

As the name implies, it is used only by homeowners hoping to avoid a foreclosure. In it, they voluntarily hand over ownership of their home to their mortgage lender. They also come in handy as a last resort to protect homeowners from the costly foreclosure process.

In effect, a deed in place of foreclosure can help you avoid a foreclosure showing up on your credit report and release you from the responsibility of your mortgage. In these scenarios, homeowners are often behind on their payments, and the bank has threatened to foreclose. Instead, the homeowner voluntarily transfers ownership and the foreclosure is not added to their credit report.

It can potentially benefit both parties, though. With the transfer, both the lender and borrower avoid the costs and consequences of the lengthy foreclosure process.

Interspousal Transfer Deed

This refers to a free, tax-free transfer of property from one spouse to another. It is a legal document that gives sole ownership of shared property, like a house, to one person in a marriage.

The use of Interspousal transfer deeds is common in divorce cases to transfer community property to one spouse.

Grantor vs Grantee Deed of Trust

A Grantor vs Grantee Deed of Trust is an agreement between a grantor and a grantee to give the property to a neutral third party who will serve as a trustee. The trustee holds the property until the grantee pays off the debt.

During the period of repayment, the borrower keeps the actual or equitable title to the property and maintains full responsibility for the property, unless it is clearly stated otherwise in the Deed of Trust. The trustee, however, holds the legal title to the property.

Trust deeds and mortgages are quite similar as both typical record debt. However, a mortgage involves two parties: a grantor (or mortgagor) and a grantee (or mortgagee). On the contrary, a trust deed involves three parties: a grantor (or trustor), a grantee (or beneficiary), and the trustee. The trustee holds title to the lien for the grantor’s benefit; if the grantee defaults, the trustee will initiate and complete the foreclosure process at the lender’s request.

In this setting, the trustee must be fair and must be ready to sell the property to satisfy the debt if the grantee defaults. It must be ensured that the trustee remains neutral. To ensure that the trustee does not try to alter the price or conditions to benefit either the grantor or grantee.

Upon conclusion of the sale, the trustee distributes the proceeds between the grantor and the grantee. The grantee gets whatever funds are required to settle the debt, and the grantee receives anything above that amount. This setup allows the grantee to purchase the property, close the debt and satisfy all of the requirements of the deed.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Be Conversant With The Register of Real Estate

The transfer of a property’s title is made by a deed. For the deed to be regarded as a legal document, it must contain specific details. Different deeds provide various levels of protection to the grantee. While the duties of a grantor are determined by the form of the deed.

Work with a real estate attorney in any transaction involving deeds, as they are legal documents that determine ownership and rights on a property.  

Also, being sure of what you’re buying during purchases is pertinent, especially when not much detail about the grantor is known. Therefore, understanding the new language and processes will improve confidence level through the buying process.


What is a grantee?

The grantee is the buyer or the person who obtains the property immediately following the closing. In a lease or rent arrangement, for example, the grantee is also the second party in the transaction. Based on the conditions of the rental agreement, the lessee has fewer rights to live on the property.

What is a grantor?

The grantor is the one who gives the grantee the property right. In other words, the grantor is the property’s seller or present owner. In a rent or lease arrangement, for example, the landlord is both the grantor and the first party in the transaction.

What is the purpose of a quitclaim deed?

The grantor of a quitclaim deed gives no promises of any kind. They simply sign away any ownership rights they may have – and there’s a chance they don’t have any at all. The grantee has essentially no protections under this arrangement.

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