Virginia Warranty Deed Form – Summary

The Virginia warranty deed is a form of deed that provides an unlimited warranty of title. It makes an absolute guarantee that the current owner has good title to the property. The warranty is not limited to the time that the current owner owned the property. This means that the current owner could be legally responsible for title issues that arose before the current owner acquired the property. In Virginia, warranty deeds are often used:

  • When a buyer is purchasing residential property from a seller for full value;
  • When the buyer does not intend to purchase title insurance; or
  • In other circumstances where the current owner is comfortable with the legal risk associated with an unlimited warranty of title.

Special language is required to ensure that the deed qualifies as a warranty deed. This language is automatically included by our deed preparation service and valid in all Virginia counties. Get Deed

How a Virginia Warranty Deed Form Works

What is a Virginia Warranty Deed?

A Virginia warranty deed form transfers Virginia real estate from the current owner (grantor) to the new owner (grantee) with full warranty of title. The grantor is responsible for all title issues affecting the property, including those that arose before the grantor owned the property.

A Virginia warranty deed is authorized by Va. Code Ann. § 55-68, which provides:

A covenant by the grantor in a deed, “that he will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed,” shall have the same effect as if the grantor had covenanted that he, his heirs and personal representatives will forever warrant and defend such property unto the grantee, his heirs, personal representatives and assigns, against the claims and demands of all persons whomsoever.

The last phrase (“against the claims and demands of all persons whomsoever”) provides the full general warranty of title that extends to all claims, including those that arose from the acts or omissions of prior owners.

A Virginia warranty deed form gives the property to the grantee with the “English covenants of title.” Those covenants include:

These covenants place all of the risk on the grantor and, conversely, provide the most protection to the grantee.

Other Names for a Virginia Warranty Deed Form

A Virginia warranty deed form is often called a general warranty deed form. Including the word “general” clarifies that the deed differs from a “special” warranty deed that provides a more limited warranty of title.

Relationship of General Warranty Deed Form to Warranty of Title

Key Term: Warranty of Title. Title issues can be caused by many things, including errors in the public record, unknown liens against the property, undisclosed prior conveyances, forged deeds, missing heirs or unprobated wills, or disputes about boundary lines or surveys. Title issues often require legal action to fix and can decrease the value of real estate. If the property has no title issues, it is said to have clear title. A warranty of title is a legal guarantee from the transferor to the transferee that there are no title issues. If a deed makes a warranty of title, the transferee can sue the transferor over any title issues.

The term general warranty deed refers exclusively to the warranty of title provided by the deed. It distinguishes a general warranty deed from two other Virginia deed forms that are also named after their warranty of title:

  1. Virginia Special Warranty Deed Form – Provides a warranty of title that is limited to the time when the grantor owned the property. Unlike a general warranty deed, the grantor is not responsible for any title issues that arose before the grantor owned the property.
  2. Virginia Quit Claim Deed Form – Provides no warranty of title. The grantee takes title “as is,” and the grantor is not responsible for title issues.

A general warranty deed also differs from two types of deeds that are often used for estate planning (probate avoidance) purposes:

  1. Virginia Life Estate Deed Form – Avoids probate at death by creating a life estate that terminates at the death of the current On the current owner’s death, the property passes to remainder beneficiaries. The downside of a life estate deed is that the owner that retains a life estate loses the ability to deal with the property without involving the remainder beneficiaries.
  2. Virginia TOD Deed Form – Avoids probate at death without sacrificing control during life. The owner may name one or more designated beneficiaries to inherit property at the owner’s death. During the owner’s lifetime, the owner can still deal freely with the property. The owner can also change or revoke the beneficiary designation, all without the involvement of the designated beneficiaries.

Because a life estate deed may drafted to include a full warranty of title, a life estate deed may also be a general warranty deed.

Common Uses of General Warranty Deeds

Most grantors would be unwilling to give the broad warranty of title included in a Virginia warranty deed form unless they are being compensated for the transfer. For this reason, Virginia warranty deeds are rarely used outside of the sale context. Even in the sale context, the grantor will almost always require a title insurance policy to shift the risk of title issues to a third-party title insurance company.

How to Create a Virginia Warranty Deed

A Virginia warranty deed is only valid if it meets the requirements of Virginia law. These requirements include a valid legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title, font size and page format requirements, and signature and notarization requirements.

The deed must also include the correct vesting and warranty language to classify it as a general warranty deed. The inclusion or omission of a single word can result in a completely different warranty from the one that is intended.

Because Virginia’s legal requirements differ from those of other states, it is important that the deed be state-specific. Each deed created by our online deed preparation service was attorney-designed to meet the requirements of Virginia law and be eligible for recording in all Virginia counties.