Deed Book Scanning and Indexing

Clerks of Court scan and index deed records.

Accurate recording of deed records and guaranteeing certainty of title to land is extremely important for real estate development in commercial, industrial, residential and agricultural markets. Deed records represent the history of land and the chain of title for all property.

Who is responsible for maintaining deed records?

Tasked with the responsibility of recording deed records are county-level government offices that can have a variety of titles. The actual title depends on the state in which the records reside. In Louisiana, for instance, the recorder of deeds is called a clerk of court. Mississippi, on the other hand, chancery clerks maintain deed records. Other titles include registrar general, probate judge, register of deeds and registrar of titles. While each of these offices maintains custody of deed records, they are also typically responsible for other important documents like marriage records, wills, plat drawings, and many others.

How long must deed records be kept?

Deed records have an infinite retention period, meaning that they are kept forever. This never-ending chain of custody makes preserving the integrity of these records of the utmost importance. Until the arrival of software used to manage deed records, these important records existed only on paper or microfilm.

Most counties purchased land management software in the mid-to-late 2000’s to handle recording needs of their offices. The reality for most counties is that they have two silos of data; what’s been recorded since the software purchase and a record room full of books that have yet to be entered into their system. This siloed approach makes researching the history of land in a county extremely difficult for interested parties.

How does a county marry their paper-based deed records with their recording software?

The first step is physically scanning the deed books and converting them to a digital format. Paper deed records have a finite life span. Shrinking that lifespan happens even more rapidly when these records are handled on a regular basis. If a county only has its deeds on paper, researchers are forced to handle these historical records. To prevent further degradation and allow instant access, most deed recorders have begun scanning their deed collections.

Creating a more efficient office aside, digitally capturing deed records safeguards a county from a fire, flood or mishandling of a record.

The next step is indexing the records appropriately for import into your system. Deed record Indexing is the process of capturing metadata contained in your deeds. While deed records contain the same metadata fields (grantor, grantee, section, township, range, etc.), each county has their own indexing standards, or meta data that they capture. Some states like Georgia do have indexing standards for all recorders, but it’s not commonplace.

Who usually handles the scanning and indexing of legacy deed records?

Scanning and indexing of deeds is typically performed by county employees or a qualified document imaging vendor. In most cases, clerk offices simply do not have the bandwidth to scan and index their entire back file. A project that would take county staff multiple years can be accomplished in a few short months by the right vendor.

How do you pick a vendor for your county?

Experience. Experience. Experience. Not just experience scanning paper, either. Experience scanning deed records is the number one way to qualify or disqualify a vendor. Ask this question, “can you show me a list of references where your company has scanned and indexed deed records?” If not, run!

Another equally important consideration is whether the company has indexed and formatted records for your land record management system. Most states have a healthy number of competing software providers. Some of those companies include Tyler, Fidlar, Cott Systems, Delta, Granicus, Software and Services, ACS, Pioneer, Harris, and Syscon, to name a few. If a prospective scanning vendor has never heard of your software vendor, that’s a major red flag.

Our team has scanned and indexed millions of deed records and formatted them for nearly every software provider in the market. Contact us to find out how to we can help your office go digital!