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1:04 PM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Going online

PRESCOTT– Mark F. Cheney and Ken Killen are taking electronic recording of property documents to a new level.

The two men with Arizona Title Agency are putting the finishing touches on a new system to electronically record property deeds with the county recorders office in a fraction of the time.

“Ultimately this is going to help the customer,” Killen said. “Because it streamlines the process.”

Also known as E-Recording, the new recording process allows the agency to record official documents sending the encrypted images via the Internet to the county.

Cheney, vice president and chief title officer of the agency, explained that once escrow closes, the deed is scanned and electronically sent to the recorder’s office.

Within an hour, Cheney said the recorder’s office sends the agency an e-mail accepting the document or declining it.

Cheney said documents that are declined usually lack a signature, seal or arrive electronically unreadable.

Walking over to a countertop just a few feet outside Cheney’s office, sits a couple of computers, a scanner, label printer and printer.

If accepted, the recorder’s office sends information for a label with the recording information that is printed out at the agency and affixed to the deed, along with a copy of the recorded document for printing.

Once the system is online, Cheney said the documents are available through the county’s Web site in about an hour.

Cheney said the new technology keeps his employees in the office instead of losing them to multiple trips to the recorder’s office.

“We’ll be able to do them as they’re ready,” he said. “And that’s less time wasted from the employee.”

The agency’s offices in Maricopa County are already filing documents through this system, according to Cheney, who added that the agency hasn’t increased recording costs.

It’s a far cry from the way documents were recorded. “Right now it’s two to three weeks to get access to the documents,” he said.

The system is timely, as Arizona recently became the first state in the country to enact a new law authorizing electronic filing of real estate records.

Governor Janet Napolitano signed the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act into law in April. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2006.

Pete Bersell, Yavapai County Chief Deputy Recorder, is aiming for the system to go online by the end of the year.

“It’s a step in the paperless realm where documents are handled electronically,” he said.

Bersell explained that agency employees have to bring the documents to the recorder’s office and a county employee reviews them.

He said once the documents are ready for recording, the transaction is finalized and the title agency pays a filing fee.

The county employee scans the documents into the computer system and the papers are indexed alphabetically.

“Electronically the first two stages are done automatically by the computer,” he said. “So that right there is a tremendous savings of manpower.”

Once the documents are indexed, Bersell said the originals are mailed to the lender or landowner.

“So we’re eliminating quite a bit of the routine work,” he said.

Bersell said the recorder’s office records between 600 to 1,000 documents daily.

Although Maricopa County process many more documents, Bersell said the county is experiencing a spike of its own.

Through the end of last month, Bersell said the recorder’s office processed more than 13,000 documents every month except January and February.

He said the recorder’s office handled nearly 16,000 documents in July.

Bersell said the new technology isn’t going to cause the office to trim staff, just make it easier to process the exploding number of documents.

“We see it increasing our efficiency so we can handle the bigger volume,” he said. “Anything that can cut into the manual handling of documents is going to help.”

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com