Article for Fred Sponseller’s blog from my friend Emily Dressler.

Real property in Delaware must be transferred by a deed in writing. In years past, before a transfer in writing became mandatory, land was transferred through a public process called livery of seisin. The term “livery” is related to (or is synonymous with) delivery and “seisin” is an estate in land, so the phrase roughly means delivery of and estate. This was a physical transaction that required the grantor to give an actual piece of the land (a clump of dirt or sod) to the grantee. This certainly is a far cry from all of today’s closing documents and title transfer procedure.

The first officially recorded land title in the state of Delaware is from 1646 when Delaware was still a colony under English rule. At this point, Delaware did not yet have counties. However, the first settlers in what is now Sussex County arrived in 1631, but the county itself was not organized until 1683. The first settlement was near present-day Lewes. Sussex County was originally known as Deale County, when it was under the control of James Stuart, Duke of York. The county has been known by different names over the years, including Susan County, Hoorenkill County (or Whorekill County, as named by the Dutch prior to 1680), Deale County, and Durham County.

In 1682, all real estate deeds and land transactions had to be recorded within two months of the original transaction or the purchase would become void.

The most commonly used deeds in Delaware are special warranty deeds (also called limited warranty deed), general warranty deed, and quitclaim deeds.

A quitclaim deed is a deed that transfers interest in property from a grantor to a grantee.

A grant deed transfers ownership from the grantor to the grantee. The grantor warrants that the title has not been previously transferred and that there aren’t any encumbrances on the deed, except for those that might be stated in the deed.

Warranty deeds are the most commonly used deeds in traditional real estate purchases. The grantor in a warranty deed guarantees that the title is good and marketable.

In a special or limited warranty deed, the grantor warrants there are no title defects only during the grantor’s period of ownership. This type of deed offers more protection to the buyer than a quitclaim deed and less protection than a warranty deed.

The recorder of deeds in Sussex County is responsible for recording all documents related to the buying and selling of real estate. To purchase a real estate deed for Sussex County, or to learn more about real estate deeds, go to

Emily writes for, a one-stop destination for all things related to real estate deeds. Our county- and state-compliant forms are available for purchase and immediate download.


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