Alaska Completes E-Recording of Land, Properties

Alaska started digitizing land and property records in 2012 in Anchorage.

Effective January 2014, Alaska has all 34 of its recording districts set up for electronic recording, says the state's recorder Vicky Backus, who was in charge of the initiative.

Currently, including Alaska, only four states have completed the process.

Colorado was the first multi-jurisdictional state to finish the 100% designation, followed by Arizona in 2012.

Hawaii also claims it has completed a state-based recording system, according to Backus. Similarly Alaska's e-recording also has been managed "at the state level not in the borough or municipality."

Nationally, the number of counties that have digitized property data has surpassed 1,060, according to the Property Records Industry Association, a coalition of government and business partners that focus on developing national e-recording standards and educating the market about the best digital property and land recording practices.

Alaska marked another milestone, says PRIA president David Ewan, who is an underwriting counsel for Westcor Land Title Insurance Co.

More states are expected to reach the 100% e-recording designation, which starts with the submission of electronic documents to a land records office for examination. The office calculates fees, collects electronic payments for the documents, and returns the recorded documents to the submitter electronically.

Since e-recording helps improve data quality and is more cost-effective, Ewan notes, PRIA offers assistance through its eRecording eXcellence Work Group in the hope that the pace of state participation will increase in 2014.

Many counties are embracing the technology, says PRIA's vice president and co-chair of the technology committee Larry Burtness who is a recorder in Washoe County, Nev., which is a step in the right direction because along with the technology, these recording offices across the country also are embracing the PRIA standards.

Electronic recording is becoming more and more a must in times when, as shown by the most recent Federal Housing Administration decision to grant "expanded authority to lenders" to accept e-signatures on mortgage loan documents, paperless processes and electronic mortgage documents are more widely accepted.

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