Deeds are the standard instrument for transferring property title from one owner to another. When an owner, or "grantor," uses a general warranty deed to convey title to a "grantee," the deed is a guarantee that no one can challenge the grantee's title and no liens or claims on the property exist that the grantor doesn't know about. The warranty covers not only the grantor's time as owner but previous owners; in Virginia, according to the Virginia Closings website, that guarantee runs back to the time of George III.
Obtain a blank deed from your local county government, or download one from a website providing legal forms. There are multiple Virginia forms with slight differences depending on whether the transaction involves individuals, joint owners or a corporate owner. According to Virginia law, all warranty deeds must include the date of the agreement, the names of the grantee and grantor, the "consideration" for which the grantor gives the title to the grantee and the address and legal description of the property.
Check that the legal description matches what's in the county records. If the description is incorrect, writer Holden Lewis says on the Bankrate.com financial website, it can confuse the grantee or subsequent owners about where the boundaries of their land actually lie.
Have the grantor sign in front of a notary; if the sellers are joint owners, the deed will need signatures from each grantor. The grantee doesn't have to sign. The notary will then sign and seal the document. Virginia doesn't require witnesses to sign a general warranty deed.
Record the deed with the government for whichever county holds the property. The department that handles deeds varies from county to county: In Chesterfield County it's the circuit court clerk, but in Richmond County its the Registrar of Deeds. The grantee and grantor are legally bound by the deed even if it isn't recoded, but filing the deed makes the transfer of ownership public, and tells the county who to bill for property taxes.
- onecle: Code of Virginia -- Title 55 Property and Conveyances -- Section 55-48 Form of a deed
- RealEstateLawyers.com: Virginia Property Deeds
- Chesterfield.gov: Recording of Land Records
- Bankrate.com: Understanding quitclaim, warranty deeds on property
- Florida Housing Coalition. "Sample Warranty Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Grant Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Quitclaim Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Interspousal Transfer Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.