Legal Blog

Purchasing New Real Estate? Three Important Title Considerations.

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New HouseBuying a new home or acquiring a piece of commercial property can be an exciting time. With both buyer and seller eager to move forward, sometimes the specifics can be rushed. The following checklist provides select tips for addressing potential title issues with your purchase:

1. Check your policy to see what your title insurance covers.

Title insurance often has exceptions to coverage, identifying select easements, encumbrances, and liens that are not part of your coverage. Pay close attention to these items, as they may alter the property rights that you are receiving as part of your purchase.

2. Double-check what type of interest is being conveyed.

Va. Code § 55-67 et seq. defines what rights are being conveyed. The rights vary – for example, a “general warranty” does not have the same strength as a “special warranty.” Make sure that you understand the strength of the title being conveyed — in the event of a dispute, a stronger title provides more protection.

3. Verify whether the conveyance is “subject to” any easements, liens, or encumbrances.

Virginia law surrounding real estate follows caveat emptor or “buyer beware.” This means that if a lien or encumbrance can be identified by looking at the deed, title work, or title insurance policy – a court will not “cancel” the transaction because a seller did not explicitly mention their existence. Therefore, if a deed reads that the conveyance is “subject to” an encumbrance, you should be fully aware of its parameters moving forward.

Questions about your pending real estate transaction in Virginia? Contact me.


Theodora Stringham is a member of Offit Kurman’s Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Law and Transactions, and Employment Law practice groups. Ms. Stringham’s diverse experience is aimed at assisting individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.