How do I properly transfer ownership of a house?

Guys… my cousin’s house needs to go into my name… how do I do the transfer?

In my previous few closings, I’ve had to get a seller’s residency certificate signed along with a formal deed. Do I need those two documents or can I just use a quitclaim deed, sign it, and have it recorded to put the property under my name?

First make sure you want the house in your name. I’d check to make sure you aren’t getting more than you bargained for, such as multiple mortgages, liens, tax certificates, IRS liens, mechanics liens, etc… If he is willing to deed you the house, why the quitclaim deed? Get a copy of his current deed (probably a Warranty/Bargain and Sale Deed with Covenants as to Grantor’s Acts), change the names, get it signed off, notarized, and recorded. Some Title companies have “issues” with a Quitclaim Deed when you go to sell the property. I’m pretty sure all you need is the recorded deed to change ownership.

If you want title insurance also, you’ll need to use your friendly neighborhood title company to do the transaction for you and they may require additional documentation.


The title is free and clear, this was a recent transaction and I have a copy of the previous title search. If I did exactly what you said, would I need to have a title company involved or can I just have the deed edited and go record it myself? I mean, I don’t need title insurance if I’m certain that the title is clear… right?

I mean, I don't need title insurance if I'm certain that the title is clear.. right?

NJbird_dog - well, yes and no. The basic idea of the title insurance is to protect the buyer from claims against the title that were not recorded or that were not found due to a poor title search. Right now - while the property is under your cousin’s name and assuming that he got title insurance - if someone makes a claim against the title, the title insurance would kick in and resolve the matter. If that same claim occurred tomorrow - after you transfer the property to your name and assuming you don’t get title insurance - you would have to defent the title yourself and if the claim is justified you would risk losing all or part of your interest in the property.

So as with any insurance, you need to understand what are the risks and decide which level of comfort you want/need. Some things to consider - how long are you planning to keep the house? If you are planning to sell it soon, than title insurance will probably be less of an issue as the new buyer would decide for himself if he wants title insurance. If you are planning to hold this house for a long time, than it may be worth the few hundred dollars to get the title insurance.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

I would use a warranty deed based on what you have said. Quit claim would be OK if you can trace family ownership back 50 years or more.

Thanks… this was a BIG help. I’ll contact some title companies tomorrow to have them do this for me. I do plan on keeping the house long term, and you made an excellent point about coverage against any claims!