What Is the Difference Between the Deed of Absolute Sale and the Deed of Assignment?

by Erika Johansen

    The deed of absolute sale, which is used in most real estate purchases, transfers property without any conditions beyond satisfaction of the purchase price. A deed of assignment, by contrast, can be used any time one party wants to transfer contractual rights to another. Deeds of assignment are common between mortgage lenders.

    The deed of absolute sale is used in many real estate sales. A deed is a document that states that one party is transferring his real estate property rights to another. The deed proves the transfer, but, if properly recorded with the county recorder, it serves to give other prospective purchasers notice that all of the seller's rights in the property have now passed on to another party. An "absolute sale" deed is defined by having no conditions attached to the sale except the buyer's payment of the purchase price. When the seller signs and delivers the absolute sale deed, this is generally recognized by law as the moment of sale.

    To be valid, an absolute sale deed must clearly describe the property being transferred, either by address or other distinguishing information. The deed must also clearly identify the seller and purchaser, the date on which the transfer becomes legally effective, and pertinent information such as the purchase price. In modern real estate transactions, the parties often get around trying to cram all of this information into the deed by having an ancillary real estate sales contract. However, the deed must reference the information contained in the contract.

    Assignment is slightly different from an outright transfer. An assignment occurs when two parties are in a contractual relationship and one party wants to give all of his contractual rights to a third party and entirely remove himself from the contract. The new party, known as the "assignee," effectively replaces the old contracting party, taking on not only his rights under the contract, but his obligations as well. Typically, unless the original contract states otherwise, both of the parties to the original contract must approve an assignment before it can take place.

    The deed of assignment is the document used to transfer the contracting party's rights. The parties may also choose to accomplish assignment via an assignment contract. In real estate, the deed of assignment often shows up in mortgage transactions. Mortgage lenders hold certain rights to property, notably the right to foreclose if the borrower fails to make payments. Lenders frequently wish to sell their rights in a piece of mortgaged property to, or purchase mortgage rights from, another lender. A mortgage lender uses a deed of assignment to "assign" its rights in the property to another lender.

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    About the Author

    Erika Johansen is a lifelong writer with a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and editorial experience in scholastic publication. She has written articles for various websites.

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