Recording – the act of putting a document into official county records – is an important process that provides a traceable chain of title to a property. There are more than 100 types of documents that can be recorded, depending on the type of property and type of real estate transaction. The most common documents are related to mortgages, deeds, easements, foreclosures, estoppels, leases, licenses and fees, among others.

The most important real estate documents list ownership, encumbrances and lien priority and are used to maintain proper real estate transactions.

Real Estate Recording Systems

Recording systems vary by state and are established by individual state statute. Not all states use a process of instrument recording to track title; some states use land registration systems instead.

Recorded documents do not establish who owns a property. Rather, they are made public record and used to help resolve disputes between parties with competing claims to a property. For instance, if two different claimants have deeds to a property, the date of recording can be used to determine the ownership timeline.

In the case of mortgage liens, courts use the date of recording to determine priority for which liens receive payment first.

To understand which documents have been or must be recorded, check with your state and county recording division. Some states have also passed recording acts, which are statutes that establish how official records are kept.

Ultimately, recordings provide information for both government authorities and for the buyers and sellers of real estate property.