Property records are legal documents or paperwork which contain information regarding real property or plots of land. Typically, the term property records refers to the deed, which indicates who has current legal ownership of the property. Once the deed is signed and transferred to the new owner of the property, the deed must be recorded.

If a purchase or sale of a property or residence occurs, the transaction should be recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds. This process is also necessary if a property is transferred as a gift or through a will.

What is a Registry of Deeds?

A registry of deeds is where documents that establish property ownership are recorded in official books. These documents are typically the deeds to the properties.

They can, however, also be documents that contain information regarding:

  • Mortgages;
  • Real estate contracts; and
  • Other property documents.

The registry of deeds is usually maintained by county officials or public officers. These documents are made available to the public in the event that a deed or property ownership comes into question.

A registry of deeds may sometimes be referred to by different names, which may include a register of deeds or recorder of deeds. These registries are important when it comes to providing information and support for real estate purposes.

What is a Recorder of Deeds?

A recorder of deeds is an office where deeds and titles to real property are recorded and registered. A recorder of deeds maintains a single location where records of property deeds are indexed.

The index or registry of deeds can be searched by a party who may be interested in obtaining title to the property. The recorder of deeds is typically operated at the county level and is sometimes called the county recorder.

Documents which are regularly recorded by the recorded of deeds include:

  • Deeds;
  • Mechanic’s liens;
  • Mortgages; and
  • Releases.

The registration and recording of a deed is governed by the state recording acts. Recording acts are laws which regulate recordation, title searches, and deed contests.

It is extremely important to have a recorded deed, especially when there is a property dispute where more than one party is trying to record a deed for the same property.

When are Registries of Deeds Used?

A registry of deeds is often consulted when the history or background of a property needs to be researched. This type of research is typically connected with the purchase and sale of a residence.

In these instances, both the seller and the buyer need to confirm that the property can be legally transferred from one party to the other. A registry of deeds may be used to provide assistance with:

  • Title searches, including confirming the present and previous owners;
  • Confirming that the title is marketable, in other words that there are no restrictions on the transferability, such as an outstanding lien or an easement;
  • Discovering any title defects; and
  • Other issues such as a transfer-on-death deed.

Why Should a Deed be Recorded?

The importance of recording a real estate document cannot be emphasized enough. A deed should be recorded for two main purposes, including title searches and certainty of title.

A title search occurs when an interested party needs to examine the title to a particular piece of property. The interested party will typically attempt to local the deed or title at the county recorder’s office.

If the property is listed there, the documents will provide important information on the property. For example, the deed will typically list the chain of ownership of the property. It will also list any encumbrances to the title, such as a lien.

What is Certainty of Title?

The recording of a deed grants an owner of property certainty of title, to a certain degree. This means that the recorded deed provides assurance that the property owner does, in fact, own the property, and that their property rights are secured against legal challenges.

For example, a deed document will usually contain a description of the property boundaries. These may be used as evidence in a lawsuit that involves boundary disputes.

Therefore, if a deed is not recorded, it may cause various complications. A title search will become more complex if no documents are found at the record of deeds.

In addition, the property owner will have a more difficult time asserting their property rights against individuals who may be claiming ownership over the property.

How do I Record my Deed with the County Recorder?

If an individual has obtained a deed to a property, they should record it with the county recorder in order to secure their certainty of title. The first step in the recording process is to present the deed as well as several copies of the deed to the recorder’s office.

This should be done at the recorder’s office of the county in which the property is located. The recording clerk will enter a copy of the deed into the official records.

The records at the county recorder’s office are maintained in chronological order so that the chain of title is properly reflected in the index. The county recorder may also enter other information, which may include a map of the property as well as the property owner’s information.

The original copy of the deed will be returned to the property owner once the entry is finalized by the county recorder’s office. The real property deed will then become a public document once it is recorded with the recorder of deeds.

This means that any individual can search the documents if they need verification of property ownership. The main purpose of the recorder’s office is to maintain the records so that the title to a property can be clearly defined by the public.

What Happens if I do not Record a Deed?

When a property is transferred or sold, the transaction needs to be recorded in the registry of deeds. The recording of real estate documents is necessary for providing up-to-date records for future transactions or changes with the property.

Failing to property record a deed may lead to:

  • A chain of title dispute;
  • A boundary dispute, for example, if the property is not properly listed or described in the deed document;
  • Issues with property taxes; and
  • Zombie property issues, which occur when an individual moves out after foreclosure but their name is still on the title due to a cancelled foreclosure.

Deed and title disputes may result in a delayed transaction, lost profits, and other legal issues. In certain cases, a lawsuit may be necessary to clear the title or to allow one party to collect a monetary damages award for their losses.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Registry of Deeds?

Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of a real estate lawyer for help with any registry of deeds issues you may be facing. Understanding what a deed is and how it works is important for any type of real estate transaction. A property recorded deed is essential to finalizing a real estate transfer.

Your lawyer can research the registry of deeds and perform a title search in connection with your inquiry or transaction. Your lawyer can also help you file a lawsuit and represent you in court if any legal disputes or conflicts over the property arise.