A. General Information on Property Transfers
B. Other Considerations in Transferring Property
C. Summary of Steps in Transferring Property
D. Two Types of Deeds in Florida
E. Types of Property Ownership
Ownership of different types of property is proven is various ways. For example, ownership of
an automobile may be determined by a title issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
However, ownership of real estate (sometimes called real property) is determined by a legal
document called a deed. To demonstrate your ownership of a piece of real estate you must
produce a deed that describes the real estate and shows that ownership has been granted to you by
the prior owner. To protect your interest and prove your ownership, the deed to you should be
recorded in the public records in the county in which the real estate is located. Once this is done,
the actual deed itself becomes less important. The clerk of each recorder’s office maintains a
record of all such deeds in their computers and often on microfiche or in some other format that is
available for the public to review.
To transfer your ownership in real estate to another person, you must give the new owner a new
deed to the real estate that identifies the property by specific legal description, shows the name of
the new owner and formally transfers or “conveys” your interest in the property. The new owner
should record their deed in the appropriate county recording office to establish the priority of
their ownership claim. As you can see, as the property changes hands from owner to owner to
owner the deeds recorded in the recording office forms what some people in the real estate
industry call the “chain of title.” Through the public records system, you could theoretically
search your U.S. property ownership “chain” all the way back to its original grant from the King
of England!
Transferring property to another can also trigger a variety of tax consequences. Income tax, gift
tax and estate tax ramifications may arise but are well beyond the scope of this discussion. You
should consult a tax advisor (accountant or tax attorney) to discuss these tax considerations if you
have questions. Transferring real estate may also trigger a state tax of some sort. These taxes are
commonly referred to as transfer taxes and in Florida are known as documentary stamp taxes.
Specific forms must be filed with the deed to show payment of these taxes. In Florida, the
Department of Revenue requires a Form DR-219 to be filed with each deed. This form provides
information on the transfer and shows the amount of documentary stamp tax paid at the time the
deed was recorded. Please see the section on Transfer Taxes for details on this tax.
Finally, the recording of a deed will also require that an administrative fee be paid to the county
recorder’s office. These recording fees usually take the form of a per page charge. In Florida, the
fee is calculated based on a certain charge per page times the number of pages you are requesting
the clerk to record. Other miscellaneous fees such as indexing charges for cases of more than two
names on the deed may also be imposed. Each county recorder’s office has some freedom in
imposing incidental costs. Please see the section on Recording/Filing Information for details.
To summarize our discussion above, the typical steps in transferring real estate to another are as
1. The deed and any transfer form required by the Florida Department of
Revenue are prepared in the form required by state law. State law will
impose many specific requirements for form and content including the
required page size for the deed, the location on the page for any blank
spaces, the legends required to be printed on the document, the identity
of the preparer and other items. Each of these requirements must be
satisfied in order for the deed to be valid and acceptable for recording.
2. The current owner signs the documents in the presence of two witnesses
and a notary public. Again, state law determines the required formalities
for signing.
3. The original signed documents are presented to the clerk in the proper
recorder’s office together with payment for recording fees and any
transfer tax that may be imposed.
4. The Clerk of the recorder’s office records the documents in the official
public records and sends them back to the new owner.
There are several different types of deeds used in Florida to transfer an interest in real estate to another. We will
discuss to two most common ones below:
• Quitclaim Deed. A Quitclaim deed is a deed that simply transfers to the new owner
(called the “Grantee”) whatever interest in the property may be held by the person
signing the deed. The signer of the deed (called the “Grantor”) makes NO warranties or
guarantees about the quality of Grantor’s interest in the property, whether or not there are
any liens against the property or whether anyone else may claim any interest in the
• Warranty Deed. A Warranty Deed, sometimes called a General Warranty Deed, is also
a deed that transfers all rights of the Grantor to the Grantee, but the Grantor additionally
makes certain warranties or promises to the Grantee. These promises include the
Grantor’s assurance that Grantor has the rights in the property Grantor purports to
transfer to Grantee, that Grantor has the right to convey the property, that the property is
free from liens or claims of third parties, that Grantor is entitled to be in possession of the
property and that Grantor will compensate Grantee for any damages sustained as a result
of any claims against the property by third parties. A warranty deed is most commonly
used in sales between unrelated parties.
A state’s property laws may be based on the concept of common law or upon community
property principles. Florida is known as a common law state and property rights in Florida are
determined on that basis. (California, Wisconsin, and Texas are three of the most commonly
known of the nine community property states in the U.S.) The following types of property
ownership are found in Florida:
! Sole ownership. Sole ownership means that there is only one owner of the property. That
owner may be an individual, corporation, partnership, trust or other entity.
! Joint tenants with right of survivorship. When property is held by more than one
individual, it may be held by the parties as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” or as
“tenants in common”. Although the form of ownership may have other legal implications,
it is most often associated with the question of “who owns the property if one owner dies?”.
If the property is held as joint tenants with right of survivorship and one of the owners dies,
state property laws say the surviving owners (or “joint tenants”) will own the entire
property. The deceased owner’s property interest is transferred to the others automatically
and without the need to “probate” the deceased owner’s share. (“Probate” is the court
process typically required to administer and distribute someone’s property after their death
in accordance with their will.) In other words, property held as joint tenants with right of
survivorship passes to the other owners at an owner’s death without regard to what the
deceased owner’s will may say.
When one owner transfers his or her interest in property held as joint tenants with right of
survivorship to some other person or entity without the participation of the other owner, the
joint ownership is broken and property ownership converts by law into tenants in common
! Tenants in Common. When property is held by more than one individual, the parties’
ownership rights are presumed to be as equal “tenants in common” unless a different intent
is shown by the deed (for example, the deed may say the property is owned as joint tenants
with right of survivorship). As a tenant in common your share of the property does not
automatically pass to the other owners at your death. Your ownership interest will pass
according to your wishes as you may have described them in your will or trust agreement.
Absent a will or trust, the property to will pass according to state intestacy laws.
! Tenancy by the Entireties. Only a married couple may hold property as “tenants by the
entireties”. Ownership of property as “tenants by the entireties” has many legal
implications. This type of ownership has a bearing on whether or not a creditor can force
the property to be sold to satisfy a claim of one or both spouses. It also bears on what
happens to the property if one of the spouses should die. An owner’s property rights versus
the claims of creditors is beyond the scope of this website. If you are interested or
concerned about this issue, you are strongly advised to seek the guidance of a
knowledgeable attorney. As to what happens to the property upon the death of a spouse,
tenancy by the entireties property passes to the surviving spouse/owner automatically and
without probate, just as in the case of property held as joint tenants with right of
survivorship. Tenancy by the Entireties is not available in all states.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county in which the property is located is the proper place to
record a deed for real property in Florida.
Recording Costs
The Clerk’s office charges a fee for the various services they perform, including a charge for
recording, indexing and/or providing copies of deeds. While some counties may impose higher
charges for recording documents, the following fees are the state-required minimums and are
typical of most counties:
First page or fraction of a page to be recorded: $6.00
Each additional page to be recorded: $4.50
Additional indexing fee for deeds containing more than
four (4) names, per additional name*: $1.00
Copy of current deed (per page) $1.00
* Each grantee name is counted separately and each grantor name is counted separately,
even if one or more of the names is both a grantor and a grantee. For example, if you
were presenting a 3 page deed for recording and the deed was from a husband and wife
to the husband and wife as trustees of a named trust, the total recording fee would be
$16.00 ($6.00 for the first page plus $9.00 for pages two and three plus an additional
$1.00 for the indexing of the fifth name, the named trust, appearing on the deed).
County Fee
Palm Beach County Charges extra for legal descriptions. Charge is
$0.60 for 1st legal description, $0.60 for 2nd
additional legal descripton and $0.20 for each
additional legal description.
Real Estate Transfer Taxes in Florida
A. General
B. Calculation of Tax
C. Unique County Tax Charges
In Florida, a tax is imposed on most transfers of real estate. It is known as the
documentary stamp tax. Florida Statutes Section 201.01 states that “The documentary
stamp taxes required under this chapter shall be affixed to and placed on all recordable
instruments requiring documentary stamps according to law, prior to recordation.” The
Florida Department of Revenue is the agency responsible for enforcing the payment and
collection of the documentary stamp tax. They collect information on the transfers and tax
paid on Form DR-219. The Clerk of the Circuit Court recording the document is
authorized to accept payment of the tax and will indicate payment on the face of the deed.
So, before a deed will be accepted for recording, a completed Form DR-219 and full
payment of the documentary stamp tax must be presented to the Clerk.
Unless a transfer is exempted, Florida law provides that “the tax on deeds, instruments,
documents or writings whereby any lands, tenements or other realty or any interest therein
is transferred or conveyed is 70 cents on each $100 or fractional part thereof of the
consideration paid”. In plain English, this means that the documentary stamp tax is
calculated in dollars to be 0.007 times the value of anything received in exchange for the
transfer, with the value being rounded up to the next highest one hundred dollars. For
example, if you deeded a piece of property to someone in exchange for payment of
$9,970, the documentary stamp tax due would be $70.00 (10,000 x 0.007). This tax rate is
the same for all Florida counties except Miami-Dade. (See unique Miami-Dade County
charges below)
For purposes of the documentary stamp tax, “consideration” includes any money paid, the
amount of any debt discharged by the transfer, the amount of any outstanding mortgage on
the property transferred (whether or not the indebtedness is assumed by the transferee),
and any other “property” received in exchange for the transfer. “Property” is very broadly
defined and includes anything that has a value or which goes to make up wealth or estate.
Where someone gives property other than money in exchange for the transfer, the value of
the property received is presumed to be equal to the fair market value of the property
being transferred. For example, if you transfer property to a corporation in exchange for
stock, the consideration received (the stock) is presumed to have a value equal to the fair
market value of the property being transferred and the documentary stamp tax is based
upon that value.
County Documentary Stamp Taxes
Miami-Dade County $0.60 per $100 (rounded up) of
consideration on a single family
residential property transfer
$0.60 per $100 (rounded up) of
consideration on a non-single family
residential property transfer PLUS a
surtax of $0.45 per $100 of consideration