If you own a home, you likely want a legal document somewhere that proves it. That comes in the form of a deed, which is generally recorded in the office of the register of deeds in the county in which your house is located. Recorded deeds are public records, so anyone could request a copy. You can easily access a copy by traveling to your county office, but you may be able to mail or search online to get the information, depending on your county.
Head to the Courthouse
If you want a copy of your house deed, you can easily get one for a small fee. Generally, the register of deeds can search for your deed by your name, property address or legal description. You may obtain unofficial photocopies or certified copies of your deed upon request for a small fee. For example, in Nassau County, New York, the register of deeds charges $10 for a certified copy of your deed, $5 of which is a "search fee."
Mail and Fax Your Request
Many counties allow you to request copies of certified or noncertified deeds by mail. Generally, fees for these deed copies are similar to in-person costs. Check with your register of deeds to determine the acceptable methods of requests, the search information required and exact fees, since each county has its own rules for copy requests.
Access the Records Online
Many counties allow parties to retrieve copies of deeds online for small fees, or even at no charge. For example, Wayne County, Michigan, permits the public to conduct deed searches for $6 and download printable copies for an extra $2 per page. Other places, such as Georgetown County, South Carolina, offer free online copies of deeds. Online records are generally searched by a property owner's name.
Use the Title Company
In some states, title companies coordinate real estate closings, and prepare and record deeds. If you do not wish to personally undertake the task of retrieving your deed a title company can do it for you. Title companies fees for researching and obtaining lost deeds vary. Commonly they are in the neighborhood of $100, plus county copying fees.
Hire an Attorney
A real estate attorney can also do the leg work to obtain a new copy of a deed. Attorneys may charge hourly fees or they may charge flat fees for simple tasks such as retrieving deeds. Also, if you retained an attorney during your house closing, he may have a copy of your recorded deed in his file, which he may provide to you as a courtesy.
Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.