Real property is conveyed through the use of a real estate deed in writing. Any deed or instrument in writing that is conveying or releasing land in Pennsylvania is, by the use of the words "grant and convey," effective to pass fee simple title in the premises conveyed to the grantee, if the grantor in fact possessed such a title (21 P.S. 2). The statutory form for a deed appears in 21 P.S. 1 and allows for the insertion of restrictions, exceptions, special conditions, and covenants of general or special warranty. The statutory form for a conveyance can be used for a warranty deed, quitclaim deed, or other form used to pass title.
Real property in Pennsylvania can be held, acquired, and conveyed by any person or organization that is legally capable of entering into a legal contract. Furthermore, all citizens or subjects of a foreign state are, by law, able and capable of acquiring and taking lands and other real property in Pennsylvania, whether by devise or descent, and may also hold and dispose of the real property in the same manner as U.S. citizens would (68 P.S. 22). There are, however, limitations on the number of acres an alien may purchase, as listed in Title 68 of the Pennsylvania Statutes. Regardless of whether the owner is an individual or corporation, real property in Pennsylvania can be owned in a variety of ways, but the most common types of ownership are sole ownership, tenants in common, joint tenancy (with right of survivorship), and as tenancies by the entireties. The manner of conveyance depends on how the property is held, as well as the intentions of the parties to the conveyance.
Before a deed can be recorded in this state, it must be signed and acknowledged by the grantor. The grantor, or two of the witnesses who were present at the execution of the deed, must appear before an officer authorized to take acknowledgements in the county where the property is located. If a deed is acknowledged in a state other than Pennsylvania, it should be done in accordance with the laws of the state in which the act took place. In order for a deed to effectively provide constructive notice, it must meet the conditions regarding indexing requirements and the Uniform Parcel Identifier law as set forth by statute (21 P.S. 358). Real estate deeds are subject to additional standards before recording can take place. Additional requirements include, but are not limited to, a certificate of residency for the grantee, an affidavit of value, and a legal description of the real property.
All deeds, conveyances, and other instruments of writing wherein it is the intention of the parties executing it to grant, bargain, sell, and convey any lands, tenements, or hereditaments located in Pennsylvania must be acknowledged or proved in a manner provided by law, and then recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds where the land is located. Every deed, conveyance, or other instrument of writing that is not acknowledged or proved and recorded will be void and fraudulent as to any subsequent bona fide purchaser, mortgagee, or holder of any duly-entered judgment, without actual or constructive notice, unless the deed, conveyance, or other instrument of writing is recorded before the recording of the deed or conveyance or entry of judgment under which the subsequent purchaser, mortgagee, or judgment creditor is claiming (21 P.S. 351). This is known as a race-notice recording statute. The legal effect of recording is to give constructive notice to subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, or judgment creditors of the parties to said agreements. The rights of the subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, and/or judgment creditors of the parties to the agreement will be limited with the same force and effect as if said subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, and/or judgment creditors had actually joined in the execution of the agreement (21 P.S. 357). Any deeds remaining unrecorded for the term of two years are judged fraudulent and void against any subsequent bona fide purchaser or mortgagee, for valuable consideration, and without notice (21 P.S. 443).