Covenant of General Warranty

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In Massachusetts, title to real estate will be transferred by the delivery of a deed, which is a written document signed by the seller or property owner, known as the "grantor," to a buyer or someone acquiring the home, known as a "grantee." Title is not transferred by merely recording the deed at the Registry of Deeds. Instead, the deed must be delivered for title to transfer, along with whichever covenants and promises are made in the deed. The grantor transfers title using one of three types of deeds, which offer different levels of protection to the grantee. In what is called a warranty deed, there are six express promises, one of which is the covenant of general warranty. Homeowners and prospective buyers should consult with an experienced Boston real estate attorney to determine which kind of deed they should seek and what the language in the deed means. At Pulgini & Norton, we can negotiate on your behalf for the greatest protections available.

The Covenant of General Warranty in Massachusetts

The grantor of a deed usually makes the same promises or covenants to a buyer that he or she received from the seller when the home was purchased. In some cases, the grantor may want to make fewer promises, but in general he or she cannot make promises greater than those that were given at the time of the grantor's purchase. Accordingly, someone who received a release deed from a seller usually cannot make the promises found in a warranty deed.

Under Section 16 of Chapter 183 of the Massachusetts General Laws, "warranty covenants" mean that the grantor, as well as his or her heirs and successors, makes a promise with the grantee (and his or her heirs, assigns, and successors) that he or she lawfully has a fee simple ownership interest in the granted premises and that they are free from all encumbrances. Additionally, it means that the grantor has a valid right to sell and convey the property and that the grantor and his or her heirs and successors will defend and warrant these rights to the grantee and his or her heirs and successors against any lawful third-party claims.

A covenant of general warranty is one of the warranty covenants. It is a promise to perform any actions in the future that may be necessary to perfect the buyer's title to the extent that the buyer reasonably requires these actions. The seller or grantor is assuring the buyer or grantee that he or she will defend against third parties' reasonable claims of lawful title. For example, a grantor under a covenant of general warranty might need to obtain an attorney to provide a legal defense in court for the benefit of the grantee.

Consult an Experienced Real Estate Attorney in Boston

Often, people on either side of a real estate transaction do not fully understand the scope of their obligations or rights. Courts take the covenants made in a deed seriously, and it is important to understand what you and the other party to the transaction have agreed to do. Our Boston real estate lawyers can help you negotiate a deed that includes a covenant of general warranty and other protections. Our firm advises and represents buyers, sellers, and lenders in Andover, Braintree, Quincy, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation with a property transactions attorney.