Instructions For
Recording Your Deeds With The Recorder’s Office

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Your Deed Now Needs To Be Recorded By Mail or In-Person

Once a deed is signed and notarized, the next step is to record it. You can record a deed in person or by mailing it to the appropriate recorder’s office in the locale in which the property sits. In all but the rarest of cases the recorder’s office is at the county level (county recorder) but there are a few places in the United States where the recorder’s office can even be at a more local level (city or town). Again, this is rare, but either way you must determine the address and name of the office for recording real property documents for the area in which the property is located. Again, the deed must be recorded in the county (or at the local recording office) in which the property sits.

If you completed your trust at our office (not by mail) we provided a pre-addressed envelope to each respective recorder’s office along with instructions on how to record a California deed. Placed inside the envelope you’ll find the original signed and notarized California deed(s) along with the completed and signed change of ownership form required by the recorder’s office. Attached to the envelope you will also find appropriate directions on how to proceed.

Why We Have You Mail the Deed

Though the recorder’s office generally records a deed upon receipt they often take many weeks or months before they mail the recorded deed back to you. The central reason for having you mail the deed in yourself is so you know it has been done because we found that no matter how many times we told clients about the recorder’s long delay in mailing back the deed we still received many phone calls asking if we had sent the deed. Having the client put the deed in the mail has all but eliminated those phone calls.

Recording In-Person

Most prefer the convenience of recording by mail but if it makes you more comfortable, you can always record any deed in-person at the Recorder’s Office for where the property is located.

The Recorder Will Only Accept An Original Deed (One You Actually Signed — Not A Copy)

Recorders will only accept an original deed; they will not accept a copy of a deed.

California Requires Your Included Change of Ownership or PCOR Be Submitted With Your Deed

Each state, and sometimes individual counties, cities, and towns, have different recording requirements. Some require nothing more than the deed and a check for recording. Others however require certain forms to accompany the deed.

In order to record your deed in California for example, it must be accompanied by a signed preliminary change of ownership report (PCOR), which we also prepare as part of your trust package. Please make sure your Change of Ownership Report is completed, signed and dated — then you should attach it to your deed so they are submitted together.

Submitting The Incorrect Fee Will Result In Your Documents Being Sent Back Unrecorded

As a rule, recording fees average between $15 and $50 per deed, but in some states they can go higher. We have shied away from quoting exact amounts because these fees are constantly changing and often involve obscure add on charges that are easy to overlook. The real frustration is that if you miscalculate, all of your documents will be sent back to you unrecorded. This can be avoided by following the simple procedures outlined below.

Avoid Incorrect Fees By Limiting Your Check & Allowing The Recorder’s Office To Fill In The Exact Amount

To avoid having your documents returned because of incorrect fees, you can do what many law offices and title companies do: Allow the recorder’s office to fill in the exact amount while placing an upper limit on the amount of the check as a safeguard. Here is how it is done.

This Is Not The Same As Writing A Blank Check

Date your check, make it out to the appropriate recorder’s office or clerk and sign it. Though you are going to leave the exact amount blank you are still going to place an upper limit on the check. Just below the line where you normally spell out the amount of the check write the words “Not to Exceed Fifty Dollars”. This is what places an upper limit on the check but allows the recorder’s to fill in the exact amount. Keep in mind that this is not the same as writing a blank check; only the recorder’s office can cash it and you have also stated that it cannot exceed fifty dollars.

It Is Your Decision But We Have Never Once Seen This Cause A Problem

How you submit your check is of course your decision, but we have helped record over 50,000 documents and never once has this caused a problem for anyone. Most importantly, it has completely eliminated deeds being rejected because of incorrect fees.

We Will Not Quote Recording Fees

If you insist on sending the precise amount, you must determine that on your own. It is worth noting that we have had more than one client ignore our warnings about sending in an exact amount only to have their documents rejected because the amount they thought was correct was not.

You Always Have The Option To Record In Person

If you are really worried about letting the recorder fill in the exact amount, you still have the option to record your documents in person.

Use Sufficient Postage & A Large Enough Envelope To Not Fold Your Documents

When mailing your deed, be sure to use a full size envelope large enough to hold your documents without folding them. Again, we often provide this for you. Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to place sufficient postage and make sure your return address is on the envelope.

While Recorders Generally Record Quickly They Often Take Time To Mail It Back 

Once again, the recorder will record your document within a few days of receiving it, and eventually, they will mail it back to you — but that can often take months. So be patient. In the meantime, the public record is all anyone is interested in anyway and once it has been recorded you can obtain an official copy anytime. Again, the very good reason for mailing the deed in yourself is that you know it has been done and this eliminates any doubts about that during the time you wait for them to finally mail it back. If you really need to know you can often look it up online or call the recorder’s office for verification.

Ignore Letters Offering to Obtain a Copy of Your Document

Recorded documents are public record. As such, there are countless “opportunist” that scour these records daily so they can send out official sounding letters offering you a recorded copy of your document or to file a homestead exemption, etc. – all at very inflated prices. Ignore these letters; they are a scam! The recorder always eventually returns your document after it is recorded and you can otherwise obtain a copy directly from the recorder at any time (for a much lower price).

Non-California Deeds

It is important to emphasize that we are California attorneys and do not make claim to any ongoing or continually up to date expertise regarding the preparation of out of state deeds. In fact, many attorneys outright refuse to prepare out of state deeds yet we do not believe that approach is necessarily in your best interest. Though we do not guarantee out of state deeds we have found widespread acceptance of most of the deeds we prepare for out of state properties and are happy to prepare them if you like. We do not however, assist with the recording of out of state deeds and thus the client is responsible for complying with all recording requirements and other necessary city, county, or local forms.