Local Records Office

Throughout most of the United States, property titles are recorded and maintained by the local county government. The records office primarily records four title elements with every property:

  1. Transfers. Whenever the property is sold or the ownership identification is altered, the records office will update the title ownership.
  2. Liens. Claims against the property, such as mortgage, tax and contractor liens, are recorded against the property—with proper documentation that the lien can be recorded.
  3. Restrictions. The ownership and use of the property can be restricted with legally recorded encroachments, easements, lease agreements and covenants.
  4. Releases. Liens and restrictions against a property can be legally removed with a formal release, properly authorized by the lien holder or legal authority behind the restriction.

For each instance of recording any of the above items, the records office will normally charge a recording fee. This fee will vary from county to county. For more information, see the "Recording" article in the "Real Estate In-Depth" section.

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