Real Estate and You — Why do you need to record a deed, and how do you do it?

Aug 18, 2021 | General Interest, Real Estate, Real Estate Law

Do you have to record a property deed?

Although a deed to land is valid between the grantor (such as the seller) and the grantee (such as the buyer), all deeds must be recorded with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located. Recording a deed gives notice to everyone interested in the land of not only who owns the land, but who also holds an interest in the land, such as a mortgage company or a land contract purchaser. And of course, it also enables the county tax assessor to know who to send the property tax bills to.

If you fail to record a deed, it is still valid between the parties, but it essentially means that the former owner remains the owner of the property as far as the rest of the world is concerned and will continue to get the tax bills, and the buyer risks the chance that the former owner will sell the property to someone else, or take out a loan on the property. So recording a property deed is not just required by law; it is also a good idea and gives the parties legal protection.

To record a deed with your local Register of Deeds, you need to follow these steps. (Please keep in mind that this is general information and you may need legal assistance to fully comply with all the intricacies involved):

Step 1: Make sure the document is in recordable form under the Michigan Recording Act and related statutes. This requires:

  • the names and addresses of each party.

  • for instruments executed before April 6, 2017, the marital status of any male grantor.

  • a legal description of the property. You should also include the property identification number and street address, if any.

  • the signature (in black or dark blue ink) of each signing party with the name of the signing party printed or typed beneath where that party signs.

  • acknowledgment of the signing by a notary

  • the name and business address of the person who prepared the document.
  • The margin of unprinted space on the document must be at least 2 1/2″ at the top of the first page and at least 1/2″ on all remaining sides of each page.
  • The first line of print on the first page of the document must be a single statement identifying the recordable event that the document evidences, such as a mortgage or an assignment of rent.
  • The document must be printed in 10-point type or the equivalent. Some registers of deeds interpret this requirement to establish the minimum acceptable type size. Check with the local register of deeds concerning this requirement.
  • The document must be legibly printed in black ink on white paper that is not less than 20-pound weight.
  • The document and any attachments must be no smaller than 8 1/2″ x 11″ and no larger than 8 1/2″ x 14″.

Step 2: Calculate recording and transfer tax fees.

  • The statutorily required recording fee is $30 regardless of the number of pages. Because the actual recording fee due depends on the county where you are recording the document, check with the county’s register of deeds to get the correct recording fee information.

  • For warranty deeds, deeds containing a warranty or covenant clause, land contracts or assignments of land contracts, you must obtain a tax certificate prior to recording, which generally requires a payment of a $1 fee (for a tax stamp). This fee may also vary between localities so you will need to check with the taxing authority.

  • State and county real estate transfer taxes are due at the time of recording for transactions conveying an interest in real property.

Step 3: Deliver to the county register of deeds.

  • Deliver the document, either by mail or in person, along with the recording and transfer tax fees, to the register of deeds of the county in which the real property is located.

  • If the closing is held in the title company’s office, the title company will usually take care of recording the documents. If you have retained an attorney to prepare a deed for you, he or she may take care of recording the documents.

  • (edited from ICLE. org.)

If you have  any questions about real estate, or property deeds, be sure to contact us. Our attorneys have handled complicated real estate matters for many years and have drafted and recorded countless warranty deeds,, Lady Bird deeds, land contracts, options to purchase, etc. We can help you with your real estate needs. 

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