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New Act Will Allow Electronic Filing Of Mortgages

August 6, 2004

Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act Completed

A new act which gives county clerks and recorders the legal authority to prepare for electronic recording of real property records was approved today by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) at its 113th Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon. The Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA) will create legislation authorizing land records officials to begin accepting and storing records in electronic form.

"The objective of the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recordation Act is cheaper and faster real estate sales," said John McCabe, NCCUSL’s Legislative Director.

In the past few years, many local real estate recorders have developed a strong interest in converting their traditional paper-based land recording systems to electronic form. A number of individual recorders have already set up digital systems, although in some cases without much clear legal authority to do so. In fact, most states have little or no legislation authorizing electronic recording. The few statutes that do exist are mostly piece-meal, dealing with isolated issues rather than taking a comprehensive view of the necessary legal developments.

Acts such as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act contain certain provisions that would clear the way for digital recording of real estate documents by local recorders’ offices. Many state laws, however, still require recorded real estate documents to be submitted on paper or to be in writing. The uniform act, in authorizing recording of real estate documents that are in electronic form, would clearly supersede traditional paper-based statutory requirements. In addition, recorders may need a number of other legal elements in order to carry out electronic recording. Those elements can include matters such as the authority to establish standard real estate document forms, authority to record by reference to such forms, authority to fix appropriate fees for electronic recording, and to collect fees electronically. It is clear that a uniform act is necessary.

The goal of the uniform act is to create legislation authorizing land records officials to begin accepting records in electronic form, storing electronic records, and setting up systems for searching for and receiving them. The intent is only to authorize such activities, not to mandate them. The act also establishes a state electronic recording commission. Under the act, a state agency is charged with adopting standards for the receipt, recordation and retrieval of electronic documents.

The drafting committee on URPERA was chaired by David D. Biklen of Hartford, Connecticut. Other committee members included: Owen L. Anderson, Norman, Oklahoma; Patrick C. Guillot, Dallas, Texas; Carl H. Lisman, Burlington, Vermont; James J. White, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Lee Yeakel, Austin, Texas; Lani L. Ewart, Honolulu, Hawaii; and W. Jackson Willoughby, Roseville, California. Arthur R. Gaudio of Springfield, Massachusetts, served as the committee’s reporter. The committee has also had assistance from representatives of the American Bar Association, the Property Records Industry Association, the American Land Title Association, and Fannie Mae.

Source: NCCUSL

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