Transferring a California title of real estate can appear to be a complicated venture, particularly if you’re not familiar with the process. However, if you’re familiar with the process, it can be very simple. It can be done directly by the home or property owner in most cases.

In cases involving higher value of property, however, it is often recommended to hire an attorney to ensure the transfer is done correctly. In some situations, not properly preparing for a property title transfer can result in issues such as nondisclosure of property defects. This can happen regardless of whether the seller is aware of the issues or not, and can complicate matters severely. Having an attorney to walk you through the process can be invaluable. However, for less complicated matters, this article may serve as a general guide through the process.

The Process of Transferring a Real Estate Title in California

Transferring the title takes place through the use of a legal instrument known as a property deed. There are four main types of deeds:

  1. General or Specific Warranty Deed (replaced by Grant Deed in California): Protects buyers from claims against the property.
  2. Quitclaim Deed: Used to transfer ownership from multiple owners to just one of them.
  3. Gift Deed: Used to transfer ownership without any payment.
  4. Fiduciary Deed: A second party is named to sell a property for someone else who is not able to represent himself/herself.

After determining the type of deed needed, you will need to take specific steps to complete the deed.

  1. Complete a form with the names and addresses of the current property owner and the person to whom the property is being transferred to. The owner is typically referred to as the grantor, or donor in the case of a gift deed, while the receiving party is referred to as the grantee or recipient.
  2. Add the address of the property to be transferred and attach copies of both the current title and the property description.
  3. Describe the specific terms under which the property will be transferred, with respect to the type of deed.
  4. Clarify the term of the deed. Typically the term is “now and forever”, but there are exceptions, such as in the case of the specific warranty/grant deed. Sometimes this is done to protect the grantee from liability issues. There may be other exceptions as well depending upon specific circumstances.
  5. Sign three copies of the deed in presence of a notary. Most county recorder offices require a pen with blue ink. Both parties are to sign the copies in the presence of two witnesses, one of which may be the notary. In the case of a gift deed, none of the witnesses may have an interest in the property being gifted. Ensure that the form is prepared properly and signed in all the correct locations, this is not as straight-forward as it may seem.
  6. Record the deed at the local county recorder’s office. There is a nominal filing fee charged for the service.

Other Considerations

PropertyEnsure that you fill out the forms as accurately and specifically as possible. The more valuable the property being transferred, the more descriptive you should be. This is the main reason an attorney may be a worthwhile consideration. There have been cases where property title transfers completed in error have resulted in legal battles over the rightful owner of a property following the transfer. Affidavity of death of joint tenant is another concern along with a 13100 delaration for someone with relatively little assets. Severing title for a joint tenancy holder who is likely going to predecease an antagonistic joint tenant is a key consideration. Even if the joint tenant isn’t antagonistic, surviving relatives and family members change colors when finances and death are involved, and proper planning can avoid these issues.

A party holding title to a property in joint tenancy or tenancy in common can often run into high costs of doing business with an undesirable decision maker who isn’t interested in keeping up property, or saving for future maintenance. A common step our law office takes is to memorialize this dispute with a complaint filed with the court leading to a partition of the property by sale, along with an accounting of expenses and contribution for any delinquent partners failure to contribute, and sometimes a dissolution of partnership may be helpful to end a caustic relationship and begin anew.  A creditors bid can reduce the cost of one of the parties to obtain the real property in the sale, and there are many considerations the parties should take to ensure the process goes smoothly.

A property title transfer in California completed incorrectly may even result in quiet title action by a plaintiff against the adverse party. Adverse possession and other issues can creep into the simplest of real estate transactions. Taking any necessary steps, including taking the time to complete the paperwork accurately and correctly, as well as hiring an attorney, may save you unnecessary hassle and ensure your property title transfer is done correctly in accordance with California law.

WB Law group is a great choice in handling such cases. They can walk you through the process to ensure your paperwork is filed correctly and that any considerations for special circumstances are handled accordingly.

Hiring an Attorney for California Property Title Transfers

WB Law Group is a reputable business litigation firm with experience in matters involving California real estate law, such as property title transfers and quiet title action. If you feel you need legal representation, we are happy to review your case and provide consultation.

For questions, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today at 559.­431.4888 (Fresno) or 619.399.7700 (San Diego).