The steps to filling out a Property Deed yourself and what you need to check for.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice.
Filling out your own land deed without a title insurance company doing everything can quite easy once you know how. Many reasons people choose do this is themselves if they are buying/selling land that is not all that expensive, passing to a family member/friend or moving it into an LLC or Trust. There can be other reasons, but the point is this is about doing it yourself without a company involved.
First thing is first, make sure you own the land with the county and that it’s not in some other name like possibly a spouse. Also take a look at the deed that was written to you. If you don’t have it anymore just request it from the county. You need to find out if is it a Warranty Deed, Grant Deed, Quit Claim, Specialty Warranty Deed and such. This is quite important because these titles are basically saying you back up what this deed covers to legal extent. These deeds have different levels of protection, you would not want to write a Warranty Deed for a property you own from a tax sale for instance. This is because tax sale deeds are Quit Claim Deeds and have issues you would need to clear in the Deed history. This can be done through services if you chose for around $1500.00 dollars. So overall if you don’t know the deed specifics you should look into that and understand what type of deed you can transfer the property with.
The common research method as a buyer is to look at a title history. Does each owner from as far back as possible transfer from grantor to grantee…A to B, B to C, C to D…etc. You should also know if there are any liens on the property.
So, at this point say you know you own the land and will write a warranty deed to the buyer. First step is getting the paperwork, the best way is to find an online service like rocket lawyer. They have up to date deed paperwork that works with counties. It’s quite easy, you fill out the questions on it which are straight forward. Download your deed and print it after. Rocket lawyer does charge a bit of fee for this one time document but you can also try to find free ones online. Rocket Lawyer is just really easy, goes by state and is rock solid.
So now you have the deed paperwork, it is time to turn it in. First you need to know what the filing fee is. You can check this on the county website or call them. Some charge by how many papers there are and some are just straight total due for filing. You need to also check if there are other documents needed by the county. States like California want another form about the process from the buyer perspective. They even want a check with the same name as the person who is paying for the deed recording. It’s best to make sure everything is right before you send it in because they will kick it back and this delay the process. Once you send it in it can take a week to a month to get it back depending on the county. But overall, that will be recorded and now the buyer owns the property. In some counties the property tax department will delay their part of the bargain and won’t change the taxes into the new buyers name for a long time. This can be frustrating but you must understand it is up to the buyer to pay this regardless. You can try to contact the property tax department in the county to speed this up.
For those who plan on doing many recordings there are companies like Simplifie. They have many of the counties online and do e-recordings. In a lot of cases you get the deed recorded same day or a few days. At this point they do require you to have an LLC to use this feature.
If you are buying pretty high priced property and it is not a company but an owner. You really should get a title check and title insurance. One of the reasons we created our site LandZero, when I personally wanted to own land for the first time years ago, I bought one with all sorts of problems. It was quite deceiving because it was a large website and company but the sellers were third party people. Property ownership should not be like that in our opinion but it is.