When will my deed transfer show up on the county website?

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

I transferred the title to my property, but the county records still have the old information online! What happened? Was I ripped off?!?!

Whoa, calm down friend! Although it’s not outside the realm of possibility your deed was unintentionally or maliciously unrecorded, there’s a far more likely explanation we should explore first:  delay. Most counties take a bit of time to update their publicly available records (assuming they even have publicly available records). So before you jump to conclusions, give the county recorder, clerk or registrar a call and ask them how to get a copy of a recorded document. It’s usually pretty simple.

So how long does it take the county recorder to update their records?

As soon as document is recorded, it’s officially in the public record. Organizations like professional title plants gather and index information about recorded documents, and are usually current within several days (although the public usually doesn’t have access to this information). Many counties also have recording information publicly available on their website, and this can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few months to update. For example, here’s an excerpt from the Maricopa County Assessor‘s website:

The Assessor receives over 400,000 documents from the Recorder‘s Office each year, however you can expect that an ordinary house on a subdivision lot purchase could take 6-8 weeks after recording before the change displays on the web site. Purchases outside of a subdivision (mete/bounds legal descriptions or splits of property) take longer unless the Assessor‘s parcel number of the property is included in the legal description on the recorded deed.

(Here’s a link to the Maricopa County Assessor‘s search page – usually a couple of months out of date.)

Isn’t there a faster way to find out if my document has been recorded?

Usually, yes! Every county has a unique identifying number for each recorded document. If you have access to this number (it will usually be stamped or otherwise shown on your original document) you can call the county and they will verify it has been recorded. Maricopa County, Arizona, has a website that allows you to input and see a recorded document immediately after it’s been recorded (here’s a link to that website). So if you need to check and see if something has been recorded, don’t just freak out on your escrow officer, legal document preparer or friend that “supposedly” recorded your document! Make sure you’ve allowed enough time to pass, and a phone call to the local recorder never hurts.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use A Quitclaim Deed To Transfer Title

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

Let’s take a moment to address the differences between a Quitclaim Deed and a (Special) Warranty Deed. There are several points to consider when choosing the correct deed to use for a title transfer. When you look at the differences between the deeds and scenarios for which each is best suited, you might reconsider using that Quitclaim Deed to transfer title.

Quitclaim Deeds: Why They Stink.

A Quitclaim Deed (often mistakenly referred to as a “quick claim” deed) is a popular instrument for title transfers. However, when choosing a deed its popularity should not be a determining factor! Many different deeds will convey title to real property, each will be useful for different situations. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a Quitclaim Deed is that it doesn’t even say whether or not the person conveying title owns the property! The grantor offers no “guarantees” as to their ownership interest in the property or the condition of the title, which brings us to reason number 3…

Reason Number 3:  NO GUARANTEES.

Although a quitclaim deed does convey title, doesn’t make any other guarantees, warranties or assurances. Basically a quitclaim deed says this:

“I don’t promise that this property has a clean title, or even that I own it at all! Whatever interest I may have in the property I’m giving to you. If you find out later you don’t have a marketable title, you can’t sue me! I didn’t promise you anything! Bwahahahaha!!!”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic… but you get the point! Many bloggers and “experts” (sometimes even real estate attorneys or a divorce court) might advise you to use a quitclaim deed. Lots of people have used them to transfer property into or out of a trusts, limited liability companies, between husbands, wives and family members “because you don’t necessarily need such strong guarantees in that situation”. Well that may be true, but it’s certainly not the only thing to think about.

Reason Number 2:  THE “SUBJECT TO” SUBJECT.

You might think that a you have to use a quitclaim deed because the property isn’t “free and clear” from liensNot so! This is probably one of the more common misconceptions we’ve heard regarding quitclaim deeds (and Warranty Deeds). The argument goes something like this:

“Well I can’t use a Grant Deed, Warranty Deed or a Special Warranty Deed because those documents say the property is free from liens… I have a mortgage on the property so I have to use a quitclaim deed!”

Well, that’s almost true. Warranty Deeds and Special Warranty Deeds do contain verbiage that makes some sort of guarantee as to the condition of the titleWhat they actually say, however, is that all existing claims have been disclosed. Warranty Deeds do not say the property is “free and clear”.  You see, each deed has a section that contains “subject to” verbiage. In the “subject to” section of the deed, certain elements are called out as being part of the transfer. A typical example of “subject to” language is as follows:

“SUBJECT TO: Current taxes and other assessments, reservations in patents and all easements, rights of way, encumbrances, liens, covenants, conditions, restrictions, obligations, and liabilities as may appear of record.”

This is significant because any liens that are recorded in the public record are “part of the package”. The grantee has no legal recourse to go back to the grantor because of a lien on the property he didn’t know about, so long as it was properly recorded (and therefore disclosed). When you purchase a title insurance policy, the title company will do a title search and list everything they find on the “Schedule B” section of the title commitment.

Reason Number 1:  TITLE COMPANIES HATE ‘EM.

Many title examiners will not accept a prior conveyance made by quitclaim without additional documentation signed by grantor. Remember, a quitclaim doesn’t guarantee anything! So when a title officer sees a quitclaim deed in the chain of title, they may question whether or not the grantor in the quitclaim deed had something to hide. Imagine how difficult it would be to track down an ex-spouse or trustee of a trust (who’s probably out of the country or deceased) so they can sign off on this property, again… just clear up the chain of title because the title officer doesn’t like the quitclaim deed. Now this is holding up the escrow! People want to move in and unpack! People want their money! If you don’t have anything to hide, why not use a stronger document? Here’s a good one that you can use in almost every state: The Special Warranty Deed.

Want to know when quitclaim deeds are supposed to be used? Check out this article!