The use of a real estate deed in a conveyance of land or interest in land is authorized by the Code of Virginia, under the Property and Conveyances Title. An estate of inheritance or freehold or for a term of more than five years can be conveyed by deed or will ( 55-2). An estate can also be made to begin in the future and can be created by deed in like manner as by will ( 55-6). Real estate deeds in Virginia can be in the form of a special warranty deed, deed of trust, quitclaim and release, or other form that is not in contravention of law. A deed may be written with or without covenants of title. The type of deed used in a conveyance in Virginia depends on the manner in which the property is held, the grantor's intentions, and the legal issues surrounding the transaction.
The grantor to a real estate deed in Virginia must have legal authority to convey the property or interest in property described in the deed. Likewise, the grantee must be legally authorized to own real property. In Virginia, those with the legal authority to convey real property or interest in such property are U.S. citizens of legal age, which includes those conveying by trust; those conveying an estate in joint tenancy or to an individual; and corporations ( 55-48). Furthermore, under Virginia law, any alien can acquire and hold real estate by purchase or descent, and it can be conveyed in the same manner as real estate held by U.S. citizens. There are, however, circumstantial limitations to this law, as outlined in 55-1 of the Code of Virginia.
A real estate deed in Virginia must contain the original signature of the grantor in order to be considered for recordation. The signature must be acknowledged by the grantor or proved by two witnesses in the manner prescribed in Articles 2, 2.1, and 3 of Chapter 55 of the Code of Virginia. When the deed is signed by a person acting on the grantor's behalf, or in any representative capacity, the signature can be acknowledged or proved in the same manner as if the grantor were signing ( 55-106). There are further elements that are essential to the validity of a real estate deed, such as the granting clause, a description of the real property, and rules pertaining to format and construction.
In Virginia, the recordation of documents is dictated by a notice statute. Under a notice statute, a subsequent purchaser of real property is not required to record in order to protect a prior interest against a grantee or lienholder, but recordation is required to protect against subsequent grantees or lienholders. Every contract in writing or deed conveying an estate or term, when the possession is allowed to remain with the grantor, will be void as to all purchasers for valuable consideration without notice until it is recorded in the proper county. The fact that a deed is in the form of or contains the terms of a quitclaim deed will not prevent the grantee from being a purchaser for valuable consideration without notice nor will it be of itself notice to such grantee of any unrecorded conveyance ( 55-96).