Pennsylvania Warranty Deed Form

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What is a Pennsylvania General Warranty Deed Form?

A Pennsylvania warranty deed—also known as a general warranty deed—is a legal document used to transfer real estate from the grantor (seller) to the grantee (buyer). The warranty deed provides the grantee with the highest level of protection against title problems, as the grantor provides a complete warranty of title. The grantor guarantees the deed will transfer a good, clear title and agrees to defend the transferred title against any third-party claims.1

Pennsylvania law provides model language for creating a warranty deed that transfers property with a complete warranty of title.2

How Warranty of Title Works in Pennsylvania

Warranty of title is a guarantee a real estate seller provides to the buyer. A complete warranty or title in Pennsylvania consists of several covenants of title—legal promises about the transferred property’s title:

  • Covenant of seisin. The seller holds complete title to the property.
  • Covenant of right to convey. The seller has the legal right to transfer the property to the buyer.
  • Covenant of freedom from encumbrance. There are no liens, assessments, taxes, or other encumbrances affecting the property.
  • Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The buyer’s title will not be disturbed by claims of third parties.
  • Covenant of general warranty. The seller will take responsibility for title issues and defend the title against third-party claims.

A warranty of title protects the new owner from title problems by shifting the risk of unknown issues to the seller who provided the warranty. If a title issue emerges, the seller must address the problem or compensate the buyer for any financial losses the problem causes.

Attorney Practice Note: Pennsylvania law defines various short-form phrases for including certain covenants of title in a deed.3 The key phrases are:

  • Grant and convey (covenants of seisin, freedom from encumbrance by grantor, and quiet enjoyment);
  • Bargain and sell (covenants of seisin, freedom from encumbrance by grantor, and quiet enjoyment against grantor or claims through grantor);
  • Warrant generally (covenant of general warranty); and
  • Warrant specially (covenant of special warranty).

The parties to the deed can modify or limit the deed’s covenants or add other covenants by including express language in the deed.

Pennsylvania Warranty Deeds and Title Insurance

Title insurance is a policy that protects the grantee and/or their lender from financial losses due to defects in the title, undisclosed liens, or other issues not discovered during the title search. If a title problem arises, the insurance company covers the cost of fixing the problem or compensates the buyer (or another insured person) for financial losses the problem causes.

Title insurance can be a good supplement to the high level of protection against title problems that a warranty deed provides. Title insurance ensures a reliable source of compensation for potential issues that may have been missed during the title search or are not covered by the warranty. Title insurance also protects the buyer in the event the seller is unable or unwilling to honor the warranty provided under the deed.

There are two types of title insurance policies: Lender’s title insurance (which mortgage companies require to protect their security interest in the property) and owner’s title insurance (which protects the buyer’s investment in the property).

Other Names for a Pennsylvania Warranty Deed Form

Pennsylvania primarily uses the term warranty deed for deeds that transfer real estate with a complete warranty of title. A general warranty deed is the same thing as a warranty deed, but the word general is sometimes used to distinguish the deed from a special warranty deed—which offers a limited warranty of title.

Other states may use different names for a similar type of deed that provides full warranties of title. Alternate names include deed with full covenants and full warranty deed.

How Do Pennsylvania Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

In Pennsylvania, there are different types of deeds that offer varying levels of protection for the grantee. The warranty deed provides the most comprehensive warranty. The two other most common deed forms—special warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds—offer the new owner less or no assurance regarding the title.

  • Pennsylvania special warranty deed form. With a Pennsylvania special warranty deed form, the seller provides a limited warranty of title. The limited warranty guarantees that the seller has done nothing to cause an issue with the property’s title while he or she owned the property. The seller promises to defend the title against third-party claims—but only if the claim is based on something that happened while the seller held title.4 Special warranty deeds divide the risk between the buyer and the seller, and they are often used in commercial transactions or situations where the grantor has limited knowledge of the property’s history.
  • Pennsylvania quitclaim deed form. A Pennsylvania quitclaim deed form offers the grantee the least protection of Pennsylvania’s main deed forms. Quitclaim deeds include no covenants of title. They transfer whatever interest the grantor owns (if any) without making any assurances about the title’s status or validity.5 Quitclaim deeds place all risk on the new owner, and they are often used in transactions among family members or to clear up title issues.

Pennsylvania Warranty Deeds and Other Pennsylvania Deed Forms

Pennsylvania authorizes several types of deeds that can be used in estate planning to establish future property interests and/or transfer property outside probate when the owner dies. While warranty deeds are named for the full warranties of title they offer, estate-planning deeds are named for how they transfer property to the next generation.

Pennsylvania’s most common estate-planning deeds are life estate deeds and survivorship deeds:

  • Pennsylvania life estate deed. A Pennsylvania life estate deed form gives one person (the life tenant) a present ownership interest that lasts for his or her life. Another person (the remainder beneficiary) receives a future ownership interest that gives him or her ownership when the life tenant dies. An owner who creates a life estate deed for an estate plan typically keeps the life estate and gives the remainder interest to a family member. This lets the owner keep ownership and the right to occupy and use the property for life and transfers it to the beneficiary outside probate when the owner dies.
  • Pennsylvania survivorship deed. A Pennsylvania survivorship deed form creates a right of survivorship between two or more co-owners. When one co-owner dies, the other becomes the sole owner of the property—with no need for probate.6 An owner who creates a survivorship deed as part of an estate plan typically passes title to himself or herself and to a family member as joint tenants with right of survivorship or (if the co-owners are spouse) as tenants by the entirety.

Life estate deeds and survivorship deeds can provide a warranty of title but the warranty is not essential. Thus, the same Pennsylvania deed may be both a warranty deed and also a life estate deed (or survivorship deed).

Attorney Practice Note: The Pennsylvania legislature has not enacted a transfer-on-death deed act, and Pennsylvania title insurance companies do not recognize lady bird deeds. A Pennsylvania property owner can accomplish a similar objective by transferring a property to a living trust.

Common Uses of Pennsylvania Warranty Deed Forms

In Pennsylvania, warranty deeds are commonly used in real estate sales due to the comprehensive protection they offer to the grantee. Some common uses include:

  • Residential property sales. Warranty deeds are frequently used to sell residential properties, giving homebuyers full assurance of a good title.
  • Commercial property sales. Warranty deeds can also be used for sales of commercial properties, providing the grantee with confidence in the property’s title. Special warranty deeds are also common in commercial sales.
Attorney Practice Note: Although warranty deeds can be used to transfer property within a family, a quitclaim deed form is often a better choice. A quitclaim deed reflects the fact that the grantor is not receiving consideration for the property and therefore should not be financially responsible for title issues that the grantor may not know about.

How to Create a Pennsylvania Warranty Deed Form

As with any deed, a Pennsylvania warranty deed should be customized to reflect the specific terms and conditions of the transaction. Reliance on fill-in-the-blank forms can lead to invalid documents and future title issues.

Each Pennsylvania warranty deed must meet all Pennsylvania recording requirements. The deed must be correctly formatted and include the information needed for a valid transfer—such as the names of the grantor and the grantee, a legal description of the property, and any notices required by Pennsylvania law.

The deed must also include the necessary language to convey the property with full warranties. Warranty deeds typically state that the grantor “will warranty generally the property” and often contain express language that defines the scope of the deed’s warranty.

The grantor must sign the deed in the presence of a notary public, who will notarize the document to confirm the grantor’s identity and voluntary execution of the deed. The signed deed should be recorded in the recorder of deeds office in the county where the property is located. Recording provides public notice of the property transfer and helps to protect the grantee’s ownership interest. The recorder of deeds office will charge a recording fee for recording the deed. The amount varies between counties.

Need a general warranty deed that meets Pennsylvania recording requirements?

Each deed produced by our deed creation software is attorney-designed to comply with Pennsylvania law. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed in minutes.

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  1. 21 Penn. Stat. § 4.
  2. 21 Pa. Stat. § 5.
  3. 21 Penn. Stat. §§ 4; 5; 6; and 8.
  4. 21 Penn. Stat. § 6.
  5. 21 Penn. Stat. § 7.
  6. Nicholson v. Johnston, 855 A.2d 97, 100 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2004).