While preparing for a talk called ‘Accessing Land Records Online,’ I‘m anticipating that listeners might wonder why land records offices digitize their collections from the present and work back in time. After all, don’t they want to preserve the oldest, most fragile records from deteriorating?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Wisdom Wednesday: Land Records Online
Remember preservation is only one goal of the offices. Another is giving access to the documents most in demand by land records users - think real estate professionals, not genealogists. They, like us, want the convenience of accessing the documents from their offices without a trip to the records office. However, the real estate community has need for the most recent deeds for two reasons.
First, before a closing the records are searched for clear title. Then the new deed and closing papers are prepared. It is inevitable that some time passes. On the day of the closing, the lawyer or title professional must search all recent documents to see if the owner has sold the property to someone besides today’s buyer during this time gap. Thus an urgent need to access recent documents quickly and efficiently is created.
Title insurance is a policy that protects against a defect in the title abstract prepared for a real estate closing. There is a one-time premium payment made at the closing table. In order to issue a policy, insurance companies that sell this product demand clear title for the past 50-75 years, depending on which insurer is used. Again the most recent land records need to be searched. You might notice that, in these tough economic times, record offices with tight budgets may have online records going back this length of time and have now reallocated funds elsewhere.