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Real Estate Records In The Computer Age

It wasn't long ago that the records of real property title could be found in a collection of huge, thousand page books residing in the office of the county recorder. Now those same records are all electronically stored in a computer database.

Before computers recording a change of title meant tedious paper handling by both title insurance companies and county recorder employees. Not any more.

With the advance in technology, more and more companies are recording documents electronically. It works like this:

1. The recording department of the title company electronically scans the documents that must be recorded. 2. Then the documents are sent electronically to the county recorder's office... either by way of a private line or the Internet. 3. The county recorder receives a notification that the title company has sent documents electronically. 4. A county recorder clerk opens the electronic file, reviews the documents to be sure they are in the proper form. When the submission for recording is approved an email is sent to the title company with the instrument number, escrow number, date and time of recording. 5. After receiving that email the title company can inform all parties to the transaction that the sale has "closed".

Those documents are now a matter of public record. When a document is recorded it gives "constructive" notice to the world that a certain act has occurred. Any one with a claim or interest in the indicated real property will now be bound by the action represented by the recorded document. It can only be challenged by legal action.

The public can easily access the records in the database by the computer terminals located in the offices of the county recorder. In many counties those records are now available to everyone through the internet. In those counties you can view the records from your office or home computer. For a fee the recorder will print a copy of any recorded document.

In a real estate transaction the deed is recorded, but it is rare that any of the other documents related to the transaction will be placed in the public record.

Computers have truly opened public records to the public. At least to those members of the public who will apply the few minutes needed to learn how easy it is to review the records.


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