Importance of Register of Deeds

Establishment of Register of Deeds

In 1835, the 1st Constitution of the State of Michigan was adopted by the Congress of the United States which established the Register of Deeds as the official recording office for all legal instruments pertaining to the transfer and encumbrances of properties in each county.

Grand Traverse County’s records date back to 1853.  Records and indexes located in the Register of Deeds Office are used for legal purposes concerning the most valuable material possession you own - your home.
These important and irreplaceable records are invaluable. 

Types of Real Property Documents

Examples of such documents are:
  • Administrator deeds
  • Agreements
  • Land contracts
  • Land patents
  • Leases
  • Liens, (state, federal, mechanics, etc.)
  • Mortgages and any assignment or discharge thereof
  • Probate orders
  • Quit claim deeds
  • Tax and sheriff deeds
  • Warranty deeds
  • Numerous other instruments which effect real estate including certified surveys, plats and government corners

Searching Records

Lending institutions, title companies, realtors, lawyers, credit bureaus, and the general public are among the many people who search recorded documents in the Register of Deeds Office.

Proof of ownership is established according to the records of the Register of Deeds. Entries are made daily on a computer system specifically designed for Register of Deeds offices. Each document is carefully scrutinized to insure it meets recording requirements according to Michigan statute. All documents received must be numbered consecutively, timed and properly cross-indexed. Documents are then scanned into the computer system and microfilmed. For security purposes, duplicate microfilmed copies of all documents are stored in an underground storage facility in Grand Rapids.

Race Notice Statute

Michigan has a "race-notice" statute where recording a deed places subsequent purchasers on constructive notice. Therefore it is important that documents are recorded in the exact order in which they are first presented for recording at the Register of Deeds Office. This means the first in time is first in line to be recorded. An error in recording might cost a property owner a hefty sum if the owner is forced to prove title, or ownership of their property. The Register of Deeds must constantly study and be aware of the laws which govern the office.