Knowledge of the law matters when you sell or buy a home. Below is a brief overview of things to keep in mind. If you have specific questions or need assistance with a particular situation, fill out the contact information at the bottom of this page.
HOW DO YOU TRANSFER REAL PROPERTY IN COLORADO?
A properly executed and delivered deed is the way in which property is transferred from one person (or entity) to another. Colorado law defines four types of deeds; the difference among the deeds is primarily the level of protection the seller promises to the buyer.
General Warranty Deed: Seller conveys and guarantees title to real property against any defects existing before the seller acquired the property as well as during the time seller owns the property.
Special Warranty Deed: Seller conveys and guarantees title to real property against defects arising during the time seller owns the property.
Bargain and Sale Deed: Seller conveys real property and after-acquired title, but provides no guarantees or warranties of title.
Quitclaim Deed: Seller warrants nothing. Seller conveys whatever interest in property exists, if at all. Seller does not convey after-acquired title.
Other situations where legal assistance is important to ensure a smooth real estate transaction: use of a Power of Attorney, making sure a deed is valid and properly recorded, and selling real estate in probate.
WHAT IS A TITLE INSURANCE?
Title insurance is very different from other types of insurance (e.g. life insurance, health insurance) in several key ways. Other types of insurance typically pool, manage, and spread future risk. In contrast, title insurance prevents and avoids past risk -- it is a risk prevention tool. Title insurance gives the seller and buyer specific details of what rights and interests affect a given piece of property. In doing so, it gives the seller and buyer assurances that property is transferred in an orderly fashion. In short, title insurance is a look a back at the rights and interests that are attached to the property, and protects buyers from losses due to prior ownership issues. For these reasons, it is important to have a knowledgeable legal expert on your team to ensure you are fully aware of title issues and that you understand your title insurance policy.
TYPES OF OWNERSHIP
There are various types of property ownership. Knowing what type of ownership is most appropriate for your situation is important because it impacts who can use the property and what happens to the property upon your death.
Tenancy in Severalty: A form of ownership for one person. The person has sole discretion to use, encumber, convey, or transfer the property.
Joint Tenancy: A form of ownership by one more people. Joint tenants do not have to hold equal interests in the property, but the interest must add up to 100%. Joint tenants do not need permission from other joint tenants to convey or transfer their own interest; however, if a joint tenant does so, it many sever the joint tenancy. Upon the death of a joint tenant, the remaining joint tenants will continue to own the property, including the interest of the deceased joint tenant -- i.e. the interest of the joint tenant does not pass to heirs. Commonly used for married couples.
Tenancy in Common: A form of ownership by one or more people or entities (e.g. LLCs, trusts). Tenants in common have an undivided, "non-exclusive" fractional interest in property. Tenants in common can transfer their interest freely. Upon the death (or termination of an entity) of a tenant in common, the interest in the property will pass to heirs (or for entities, in accordance with an appropriate deed).
Life Estate: A form of ownership that entitles the owner to the use and enjoyment of property, for the life of the life estate holder. Upon the death of the life estate holder, interest of the property passes to a person or persons know as a remainderman. Commonly used tool in estate planning.