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I'm thinking about buying and rehabilitating a condemned house that is being offered with a quitclaim deed. I can confirm that the seller is the most recent title holder via county records. From my observation of county records, it seems common for financial institutions and investors to shuffle such houses around using no-warranty deeds (sheriff, tax, quitclaim, etc.) but individuals usually do not and I know it is not recommended.

What reasonable measures should I take to protect my (low but important to me) investment? For instance:

  • Refuse to purchase via quitclaim.
  • Purchase a professional title search and/or title insurance.
  • Stop worrying so much.
  • Will you be getting a loan to make the initial purchase? Will you be getting a loan for the construction? – mhoran_psprep Jun 1 '17 at 10:42
  • @mhoran_psprep No loans, all cash. – Ryne Everett Jun 1 '17 at 23:41
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Unless you are investing an insignificant amount of money for the home and renovations, you need title insurance. Without it multiple other parties can claim ownership in this property you are purchasing and investing in. Also you can know if there are any liens against the property which can cost you a significant amount in addition to the costs you are budgeting.

For example liens against a property I bought a while back amounted to 26% of the price I paid. In my case the seller (a bank) paid those, while in your case you may need to pay any liens as I suspect the seller has little money.

That "bone" in your body that has you worried about this transaction is really good. Pay attention to it.

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A quitclaim deed says, in essence, "whatever ownership I have in this property I give to you". Contrast that with a warranty deed, in which the grantor guarantees that he has good title, that he has the right to convey the property, that it is free of all liens and encumbrances, and that he will warrant and defend your title in the event of a breach. Obviously the warranty deed gives you more protection, to the extent that the grantor has the wherewithal to back it up. Regardless, the trend today is to buy title insurance and let the title company deal with those complications.

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    The question isn't about the difference between the two kinds of deeds, but about what action the prospective buyer can take to mitigate their risk. Most of your answer doesn't address this. – BrenBarn Jun 1 '17 at 7:02
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    @BrenBarn -- the question clearly shows confusion about the meaning of a quitclaim deed, and understanding what it means is critical to deciding what to do. Given that confusion, "do this" is not an adequate answer. – Pete Becker Jun 1 '17 at 15:39

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