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  • Writer's pictureDavis Yu

Recording Real Estate Documents

August 20, 2020


For real estate and property transactions, recording appropriate documents is an important step that one must not forget to do. Depending on the type of property or transaction, there are documents pertaining to mortgages, deeds, liens, leases, easements, and other transactions. The act of recording these documents, or filing with the county recorder’s office, seeks to put the public on notice of the property’s chain of title. This act is often useful in resolving disputes involving competing claims to particular property or obtaining a loan.


In California, there are several methods to record real estate documents:


In-person


Generally, an individual, third-party representatives or messengers can go to the local county recorder’s office for real property document recordings. Each county will typically provide a list of general requirements that is available on the county recorder’s official website. For any changes of ownership of property, a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report will need to be completed and submitted with the requisite documents. These forms are made available at the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office or the County Assessor’s Office. Additionally, all fees are required at the time of recording.


Due to the COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) pandemic, this option may not be available as offices may be temporarily closed. Check the official website or call the information line to stay up to date with any changes.


By Mail


Mail-in services may also be an option for recording real estate documents and likely the most common method considering the current health crisis. In addition to the documents for recording and relevant forms, the name of the party and a return address to send the documents is required. The address of where to mail the real estate documents and applicable fees should be available on the County Clerk’s official website. Some offices may limit the methods of payment when documents are sent via mail. For instance, Orange County allows for cash and credit/debit card transactions with in-person services but not for mail-in services.


With the current pandemic and temporary office closures, there may be processing delays.


Third Party Services


With the sale of real property, part of an escrow company’s services include reviewing documents to ensure all conditions and legal obligations are fulfilled and recording the documents to transfer title with the county. Other third parties responsible for filing documents in public records, also referred to as document submitters, can include an attorney, loan servicers, title company, or construction firm. Some counties in California have opted to include an option for document submitters to record documents electronically through an e-recording vendor.


Real estate documents must be properly prepared and recorded in order to prevent adverse legal and financial consequences. The County Clerk-Recorder’s Office cannot provide any legal advice or provide instruction on how to prepare legal documents. It is also important to consider processing delays due to COVID-19 and additional delays that may result should documents be incomplete or incorrectly prepared. Consult with a licensed attorney to assist with your real estate matters.



This article is specific to the laws of the State of California and is intended for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions related to this article, please contact an attorney.






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