A registry of deeds is a place where documents which establish property ownership are recorded in official books. These documents are usually the deeds to the properties, though they can also be documents containing information regarding mortgages, real estate contracts, and other property documents. They are generally maintained by county officials or public officers, and made available to the public in the event that a deed or property ownership comes into questions.
A registry of deeds can sometimes be called by different names, such as a “register of deeds” or “recorder of deeds.” The registry is important when it comes to providing information and support for real estate purposes.
Registries of deeds are often consulted when the history or background of a home needs to be researched. This sort of research is typically connected with the purchase and sale of a residence. In such instances, both the buyer and the seller need to confirm that the house can legally be transferred from one party to the other.
A registry of deeds can be used to help when it comes to:
- Title searches (i.e. confirming the present and previous owners)
- Confirming that the title is marketable (i.e., no restrictions on the transferability, such as an outstanding lien or an easement)
- Discovering any title defects
- Other issues such as a transfer-on-death deed
When the property is transferred or sold, the transaction needs to be recorded in the registry of deeds. Recording real estate documents is necessary for providing up-to-date records for future transactions or changes with the property. Failure to properly record a deed can lead to:
- Chain of title disputes
- Boundary disputes (for instance, if the property is not properly listed or described in the deed document)
- Issues with property taxes
- “Zombie property” issues (i.e., a person moves out after foreclosure but their name is still on the title due to a cancelled foreclosure)
Title and deed disputes can result in delayed transactions, lost profits, and other legal issues. In some cases, a lawsuit may be needed to clear the title or to allow one party to collect a monetary damages award for their losses.
Understanding what deeds are and how they work are important in any type of real estate transaction. A properly recorded deed is essential to finalizing the transfer. You may need to hire a real estate lawyer in your area if you need assistance with the registry of deeds in your area. Your lawyer can help research the registry and perform a title search in connection with your transaction or inquiry. If you have any legal disputes or conflicts over the property, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit and represent you in court.