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Types of Real Estate Deeds In Virginia

A deed is an instrument which transfers title from one individual or entity to another individual or entity (the "Grantee"). Typically, deeds contain the name of the current owner (the "Grantor"), the name of the new owner (the "Grantee"), the legal description of the real property, and the signature (notarized) of the Grantor. The deed will also describe how title is being held by the Grantee. This article will discuss the different types of deeds and their respective purposes to give you a better understanding as to what type of deed you may need.

Real Estate Transactions (Purchasing Real Property) Deeds:

This section will discuss the different types of deeds a person may come across when purchasing real property.

General Warranty Deed

This is the strongest type of deed in real estate transactions. If you are purchasing a property, you would want a general warranty deed. A General Warranty Deed contains several warranties and protects the Buyer (Grantee) from breaches of the warranties caused by the Seller (Grantor) and all prior owners.

Due to this expansive protection, a General Warranty Deed is the best type of deed if you are a Buyer. If there is a breach of any warranty, then the Buyer (Grantee) can bring suit against the Seller (Grantor) regardless if the breach was caused by the Seller or the prior owners.

Special Warranty Deed

This type of deed is one step below a General Warrant Deed. A Special Warranty Deed differs from a General Warranty Deed in it only protects the Buyer (Grantee) from breaches of specific warranties caused only by the Seller (Grantor). Therefore, the Special Warranty Deed will not protect the Buyer (Grantor) from issues caused by prior owners.

Quitclaim Deed

This is the weakest deed. A Quitclaim Deed only conveys whatever interest the Seller (Grantor) has in the property to the Buyer (Grantee). The Quitclaim Deed offers no protection to the Buyer (Grantee). Therefore, it does not warrant that the Seller (Grantor) even has proper title to transfer ownership of the property to the Buyer (Grantee).

Deed of Trust

Typically, a Deed of Trust is seen in mortgage situations. The Deed of Trust is an agreement between the lender (usually the bank) and the Borrower (Buyer) to give legal title to a Trustee until the debt (mortgage) is paid in full. The Deed of Trust allows the lender to take the property back from the borrower if mortgage payments are not made.

No Consideration Deed:

First, "consideration" in legal terms is a "bargain for exchange" which in real property transfers typically mean money. In a no consideration deed, no money is being exchanged between the Grantor and the Grantee for the property.

Deed of Gift

A Deed of Gift, is a deed that transfers a title to real property from one party (the Grantor/Donor) to another (the Grantee/Donee). You will usually see a deed of gift being used to voluntarily transfer property between family members or close friends. They can also be utilized to donate the property to a charity or nonprofit organization.

Further, no recordation taxes need to be paid. Virginia also does not impose a state gift tax, but the grantor is still obligated to pay the federal gift tax.

Transfer on Death Deed

A transfer on death deed is an instrument that allows owners of real property to convey land to chosen beneficiaries without the need for a will. These deeds are revocable during the life of the Grantor. The Grantor also retains full ownership of the property and may use it has he/she wishes. The Grantor can also revoke or modify the Transfer on Death Deed during his/her lifetime. When the Grantor dies, the property is transferred to the beneficiaries in the Transfer on Death Deed. This deed helps avoids the probate process.



Typically, when a Seller sells property to a Buyer, a deed is drafted granting title to the Buyer. The General Warranty Deed and Special Warranty Deed are deeds which contain warranties/covenants which protect the Buyer

The deed transfers the legal title to the Buyer and assures that the Seller is the rightful owner of the property and is selling that property with marketable title, i.e. free of any liens. The six covenants of title (warranties) represent the promises that the Seller makes. Three covenants are considered present covenants, which means they apply to the Seller. The other three are future covenants, which the Buyer can enforce against any previous owners of the property if these covenants are breached.

The General Warranty Deed has all six covenants whereas the Special Warranty Deed only has the present covenants.

Present Covenants

Covenant of Seisin:

The Covenant of Seisin is a promise that the Seller is the rightful owner of the property being sold. In other words, it's a promise that the Seller actually owns the property. This applies both to the title to the property and the right to possess the property. "Seisin" applies to both the title to the property and the right of possession to the property, meaning, the Seller owns the property and has the right to occupy it.

No Encumbrances

The Covenant against Encumbrances is a promise by the Seller that the property is not subject to any liens, mortgages, taxes, leases, easements and other restrictions that may affect the Buyer's ability to use the property or reduce its value.

Right to Convey

The Right to Convey means that the Seller is legally entitled to transfer the property to the Buyer. The seller must hold title to the property to possess the right to convey.

Future Covenants

Quiet Enjoyment

The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is a promise that the Buyer's right to possession will not be impacted by a third party's claim to title. In other words, it's a promise that someone will not later come and claim they are the rightful owner of the property. If a third party came forward with a claim, the Seller could be liable for damages.

Covenant of Warranty

The Covenant of Warranty is very similar to that of quiet enjoyment. This future covenant is a promise that the grantor will defend against any title claims from third parties - if there's a problem it's up to the grantor or seller to sort it out. By the covenant of warranty, the grantor also promises to compensate the buyer for any losses she might incur as a result of any third-party claim.

Further Assurances

The Covent of Future Assurances is a promise that the grantor will do whatever is reasonably necessary help the grantee perfect the title should the need arise later down the road. This could involve executing additional legal documents or correcting mistakes found in previous documents.

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