County recorders will have an easier time going paperless thanks to a new guide published by an industry group.

The Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act Enactment and eRecording Standards Implementation Guide explains to county clerks and recorders how to proceed when accepting electronic real property documents for filing. It also provides details for states on how to use national eRecording standards in developing local standards.

The Property Records Industry Association produced the 162-page guide.

“The hope is that this will take us the last 100 yards and across the goal line” for the paperless transaction, according to attorney Jerry Buckley, who with fellow partner Margo Tank at Buckley Kolar LLP in Washington, D.C., played a big role in creating federal legislation that made electronic signatures legal in 2000.

As things stand, the two said, more and more real estate professionals are conducting transactions online.

“From the beginning of a real estate transaction all the way to entering into a promissory note obligation, all that can be done electronically now,” said Tank. “The mortgage process disclosures can be provided electronically, the borrowers’ signatures can be provided electronically, and so forth.”

But all too often, when it comes time to file with the county recorder, it becomes necessary to print out a boatload of documents and haul them to the recorder’s office, she said.

Bringing county recorders into the loop will make the transaction paperless from beginning to end, Tank said.

“This way the security instrument, meaning the deed of trust, can be filed electronically with county recorders, as well as the ancillary documents associated with the settlement – affidavits, power of attorney or whatever is needed,” Tank said.

The two said that 70 counties in 22 states are already accepting some form of electronic recording – a sign that the paperless transaction is gaining a foothold with county recorders.

Three major pieces of legislation have been created to help along the paperless transaction. In order to make electronic real estate transactions and signatures legal, in 1999 and 2000 the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) were enacted by the U.S. government.

The two give legal effect to real estate transactions that are executed electronically and allow them to be enforced between the parties to the transaction. UETA has been adopted in almost every state, Buckley said.

The third piece of legislation was the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act, or URPERA. This law was enacted to help make sure that the states would use electronic recording standards that were uniform, so every state’s system could talk to every other state’s system.

The Property Records Industry Association produced its guide to URPERA to give background and policy analysis to help state legislatures enact URPERA, as well as detailed guidance to state and local commissions developing technological standards for electronic recording. Also, it helps county recorders implement URPERA.

URPERA has already been adopted by legislators in the District of Columbia, Arizona, Delaware, North Carolina and Texas, according to PRIA. It is being considered for adoption in California, Missouri, Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New Mexico, PRIA said.

“Electronic recording is experiencing unprecedented success with county recorders who have already deployed the technology,” said Mark Monacelli, president of PRIA and recorder in St. Louis County, Minn.

“The information in this guide will ensure its continued success because recorders’ systems will be able to ‘talk’ with lenders’ and title companies’ systems in an automated way, and process documents electronically based on uniform standards,” Monacelli said.


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