County news — New e-recording system for land records like deeds is designed to save time and money for citizens and the offices using it

A world where land records have to be manually filed is ending in Yamhill County with the new Simplifile system.

“Every time a piece of property changes hands or when someone has a claim on a property, there is a document that has to be filed with the local county clerk where the property is. That happens all day every day,” said Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen. “That could be a mortgage, lien, deed — literally more than 200 types of documents that could be filed.”

While the old system required paper documents be filed, the new e-recording system, which went into effect Sept. 1, allows those documents to be submitted online. Van Bergen said this saves time and money.

“Every time a transaction happens a document has to be recorded, that means us taking a scan of all the parts and then we enter in the basic information about that — as you might imagine those do come in every form imaginable, sometimes there are staples, a Post-It note on page 13, sometimes a paper clip, so we have to make sure none of those things are in there because we have to then scan them,” he said. “What this system does is pushes all that work back to (the filer).”

He said most of the time the title companies, banks or lawyers filing documents already have electronic versions so they’ve already done what would be extra work.

“It saves us time so we don’t have to sort through the documents and scan them and it saves them time in sending,” Van Bergen said. “We’re taking what used to take at least 24 hours to process down to 20 minutes.”

But he said with the benefits there is a new risk involved.

“We are relying on them to take a good, clean, accurate scan and that’s one of the first things we worked with them extensively to get each scanner in each of these offices to get the settings done to get an accurate, clean scan,” he said. “What we used to do is verify that our scans were to minimum standards, but now we are relying on them to do it. Initially, it was a little annoyance, but most of them have had scanners for years and have already been e-filing with other counties. So far we’ve only run into two who needed to set up their scanners.”

Van Bergen said the biggest benefit of the system lies in correcting errors. In the past, if someone forgot to sign a page, the entire packet would have to be sent back, the person who sent the documents would have to get it signed, and then re-send the whole packet to the clerk’s office.

“Typically if that’s a mortgage or something those people and the people they’re buying the house from are all waiting for this to be done so they can get the keys and move in — that could’ve taken a week,” he said. “But now we get a little email type notification, we look at it look for deficiencies, click a little box that says (this is wrong and) send it back. That takes 15 minutes. They can fix whatever it is and send it back to us. What could take five days can now be done in about two hours.”

For the clerk’s office, Van Bergen said there are three other benefits. First, because about half of the people coming in to their office can now file online, the work flow won’t be interrupted as often.

“That human interact is awesome, but it also breaks the flow of work,” he said.

Second, with everything submitted electronically, they can process documents in blocks — deeds first, then liens, then mortgages, etc.

“Third is the paperwork itself because we are not physically touching it, not removing paperclips and scanning,” he said.

Eric Templeton, regional manager of AmeriTitle for Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties characterized the switch over to an e-recording system as great.

“(It’s) slowly been going (electronic) county by county and each time it’s incredible, it’s incredibly helpful,” Templeton said, adding that before they generally had to have someone submit the documents in person. “It’s a hassle, but manageable. This alleviates that. There’s no down side.”

Van Bergen said the only other change is in the fees. Although the fee schedule for the actual documents remains the same, there is now a $5 fee for processing.

“Think of it as a shipping fee, but instead of $15 to FedEx, you pay a $5 processing fee,” he said. “And that goes directly to the vendor.”

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