Indexing Land Records: Hire temporary workers, DIY, or outsource?

In most states, land records are recorded and maintained by a clerk of court, recorder or register of deeds. These offices are responsible for letting the world know who owns the property within their county or city lines, and if there are any encumbrances to the title, like a lien. Keeping track of every parcel of real estate is quite a task, and one that requires accurate indexing of records.

Land record scanning indexing.

Recorder offices have several options to index land records

Offices take many different approaches to tackle indexing projects. While every office has its own preference, this blog simply lays out the pros and cons of the various options as we see them based on many conversations with clerks.

Hire temporary workers to index land records

Many recorder offices hire temporary workers to scan and index land records. I have spoken to dozens of clerks who hire students on break from school looking for some walking around money. This option works great on many levels.

Pros of hiring temporary workers

  • Less expensive than full time staff members.

  • Can be used on a project-to-project basis.

  • Tend to be young and skilled with technology.

  • Providing jobs to the local community (never a bad move for publicly-elected official).

Cons of hiring temporary workers

  • When using different temps at different times, it can lead to inconsistencies in indexing.

  • They tend not to fully understand the importance of the records.

  • You can’t hold temporary workers liable for bad indexing.

  • Highly sensitive information about local citizens is being accessed.

  • Lots of training is required for a short-term employee.

Have full time staff members index land records

This is the route that most recording offices prefer when it comes to keeping an accurate index of land records. These employees make a living working with these instruments and benefit the most from accurate, standardized indexing.

Pros of using full time staff

  • They are committed to ensuring indexing is accurate.

  • Salary expenses remain the same unless you have to hire additional workers.

  • Full time staff understand and value the importance of the records being indexed.

  • Can be held accountable for mis-indexing records.

Cons of using full time staff

  • Many offices are underfunded, and workers have full plates. Finding time to set aside for indexing can prove difficult.

  • Some workers index records how they see fit rather than following standard indexing rules. It is extremely difficult to catch errors in their work until years later.

  • When two or more workers are assigned indexing work, they tend to index differently. Small things like abbreviations or ordering of first names and last names have a huge impact on the search-ability of records later.

Outsource land record indexing

Let me preface this section with a disclaimer: We scan and index millions of land records every year, and I want you to hire us for indexing projects. This option isn’t for every office either.

Pros of outsourcing

  • Documented indexing rules: We can help you establish and document indexing rules based on our many years of experience.

  • We keep your indexing rules on file which virtually eliminates the learning curve when starting new projects.

  • We play well with others, even those land record software vendors that are difficult to work with.

  • Consistency and quality in data: Our meticulous indexing procedures require that EVERY instrument is checked three times by three people during processing.

  • You can hold us liable for returning poor quality work.

  • Less expensive in the long run. How much would it cost to pay temps or full time workers to scan and index 35 years worth of land records?

Cons of outsourcing

  • Some indexing companies don’t take time to create a detailed list of rules and exceptions to make sure that document indexing is consistent throughout the project.

  • You get what you pay for. Time and time again we have seen firms come in with rock bottom pricing and deliver poor quality work that ends up being completely scrapped. These companies usually perform quality control checks periodically rather than on every record. That’s not good enough when dealing with land records!

  • Some indexing vendors don’t play well with software vendors. Your data might not ever make into your system.

Make the right choice

There are many things to consider before embarking on an indexing project, and any of these options could be the right choice for you. We have performed indexing services for over 200 offices across the United States and would love to assist you.

Let’s discuss the goals you have for your office. You can get a quote for outsourcing land record indexing by clicking the button below or calling us at 985-888-0091.

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