What is a Grantee? Definition and Explaination

A grantee receives property from a grantor

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A grantee is the entity receiving title to a piece of real estate. The grantee is the buyer. When the grantee sells the property, the grantee becomes the grantor.

Simply put, the grantee is the recipient. You can be a grantee even without receiving a property deed. For example, a land contract features both a grantor and a grantee. The grantor is the owner and the grantee is the buyer who is acquiring an equitable interest, but not bare legal interest, in a property.

Types of Deeds Naming Grantor and Grantee

The five most common types of property deeds are:

Warranty deed -- The grantee receives a warranty from the seller to forever defend the title against claims of all persons.

Grant deed -- The grantee receives guarantees that the grantor has not sold the property to another party, and that he has disclosed all liens and restrictions on the title that he knows about

Quitclaim deed -- The grantee receives whatever interest the grantor may or may not possess; this type of deed offers almost no guarantees and is often used among family members.

Interspousal transfer deed -- The grantee receives the interest of a spouse, including a forever interest in community property and pays no transfer tax.

Grant deed in lieu of foreclosure -- The grantee is generally the bank to whom the borrower owes a loan that will not be repaid.

Chain of Title Searches

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more interesting, you're about to discover that county courthouses/recorder offices contain big books filled with only grantees.

They are known simply as grantee books. Many of the grantee books are more than 100 years old.

Information is entered in grantee books in alphabetical order, with entries listed by last name first. Title searchers used grantee books to find and document a chain of title.

Next to the grantee name is the legal description, property address of the land and the improvements being conveyed, including the date of transfer.

The book and page of the deed used to transfer title is noted in the grantee book.

So for example, say you know name of the property owner now, but you do not know the names of previous property owners or whether the title transfers were completed appropriately. You can use the grantee book to find out when the present owner of the property acquired title and from whom by working backwards in the public record of the grantee book. When you find the deed of the grantor deeding to the grantee, you can then look for the grantor's name in the grantee book until you find when that individual acquired title. 

This type of title searching occurs only if there have been no title transfers in recent years, say, if the property has been in a family for 50 years or more. Otherwise, most other transfers are captured digitally.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.