A letter circulating around Newton County offering to obtain property deeds for homeowners has many residents confused and a little worried about their ability to obtain the deeds themselves, but they needn’t be, according to Linda Hays, Newton County clerk of superior courts.
The letter, which is from a company called National Deed Service, Inc, is not incorrect. According to Hays, homeowners should have a copy of their deed and may need one for certain transactions, but the implied sense of urgency in both the letter and on the company’s Web site, is unnecessary.
"It is not an easy process to obtain public records from a governmental agency," reads the information on the Web site. "It often requires people to travel to the recorder’s office, lose time from work and pay, locate the proper office, deal with the people at the office, and locate their document and wait for the document to be produced. Sometimes, the process will take two trips, and in some cities the cost of parking alone could be $20 plus each day. This is not an easy process. When considering all of the above, the service provided by National Deed Service, Inc. is a cost and time effective service."
Hays said that statement could not be further from the truth.
"If you aren’t familiar with the courthouse you may be a little intimidated at the thought of coming here," she said. "But all you have to do is walk into my office and we are here to help you. I have excellent employees and if we don’t know the answer to your question then we will certainly find out."
National Deed Service offers residents a certified copy of their deed for $59.50. At the clerk’s office, a certified copy of your deed will run you $2.50 for the first page and 50 cents for each additional page. Deeds are generally no more than five pages long. For an uncertified copy it is just 25 cents a page.
The difference between a certified and uncertified deed is that a certified deed is as good as an original and would act in its place should you misplace the original. An uncertified deed would just be a copy for your records but would not work for business transactions. Instances where deeds would be needed would be if the homeowner wanted to borrow money or put up a bond. It would also be needed for insurance purposes should your home sustain damages – like many in Newton County did Wednesday night during the storms and tornado.
According to Hays this is not the first time the county has seen letters like this surface. She stressed that what National Deed Service is offering is not illegal, but it is, she believes, very misleading. To get a copy of a deed on any property, all one needs to do is walk into the clerk’s office at the Judicial Center on Usher Street. All of the information is stored on the computer and an employee can look it up quickly and with no fanfare.
It is even possible to get a copy of a deed online by visiting www.gsccca.org, which is the Georgia Superior Clerk of Court Authority Web site. Deeds can be obtained for 50 cents a page and eliminate a trip to the courthouse, but all deeds, specifically those on property built prior to 1990, are available online