Congratulations! You’re a newly elected or appointed recorder. You may or may not have experience working with property records, but you are about to immerse yourself in an office which is at the heart of the property ownership principles and also the foundation to market capitalism in the United States and abroad.
For those who have walked in your shoes previously, most say they wish they had known where to find resources to answer their questions. PRIA has organized the materials found on this page, along with an extensive Resource Library that may help you navigate your new role.
What are the state laws that govern how the recorder’s office operates? What safeguards are in place to protect the documents for which I am responsible? How do I put together an annual budget? How long will it take to learn everything I need to know to do my job effectively? Who uses the property data and why? What skills do I need to manage my supporting staff?
In addition to the Glossary of Recording Terms, some commonly used terms to understand on Day One include:
Record documents. “Record” is a verb indicating receipt and filing of a document, most often by imprinting additional information on the document being recorded.
Authorized by law. Each state has its own statutes, which list all the documents permitted to be recorded. Some states also have provisions setting forth requirements for denying a request to record.
Public records. Recorded documents in the United States have always been considered documents belonging to the public, not to the recorder; thus, the content of the documents has always been available to the public, to read, research, print and copy. Some states have laws that permits certain people to have their personal information redacted (covered over) or made confidential.
Searchable records. With documents being recorded daily, weekly and monthly, it is the duty and responsibility of the recorder to create and maintain an index so the documents can be easily found.
The jurisdiction is the geographic area for which a recorder is responsible, also known as borough, county or parish.
Here’s what some experienced recorders had to say about their first days in office:
“I wish I knew who the important ‘players’ were, what their needs were, and what their circle of influence was.”
“One of the more difficult responsibilities I had was knowing what the month-end requirements were.”
“I did not realize the full extent of financial management.”
“How to research State Laws that govern the office – that was challenging.”
“The one thing I can think of is that it will take years to learn this job, and that’s OK.”
“Understand that your staff may not be on board with the plans/updates you have in mind. Take time to find out why duties are performed a certain way and involve staff in the planning process for new procedures.”