As a part of our mission to improve quality in the processing and recording of documents, Iowa Land Records provides training and information to both document filers and county recorders. The intent is to reduce errors in the preparation and review of documents submitted for recording. Any document submitted for recording, in paper or electronic format, must meet certain standards.

Here are few examples:

  • The image must be legible and suitable for archiving
  • The document must be formatted correctly with space for the recording stamp on the first page
  • Certain information must be complete and correct
  • Payment for fees and transfer taxes must be correct
  • Documents must be sent to the correct county

Any of these issues may be reason for a recorder to decline a document and return it to the submitter because it may prevent the recorder from performing a recording function (indexing, stamping, archiving), or it might result in the recording of incorrect or incomplete information. Anytime a document is rejected in the recording process, it represents wasted effort and may delay the completion of a real estate transaction. Getting things right matters to both recorders and professionals in the real estate industry.

In 2019 there were more than 260,000 documents electronically recorded. Of these documents, 6.37% were rejected – some of them for multiple reasons. This applies to all document types, including mortgages, deeds, as well as supporting documents, such as groundwater hazard statements, declarations of value, affidavits and more.

A review of all 2019 documents rejected shows the most common reasons.

  • Information Missing 22.85%
  • Image Quality 18.09%
  • Document Format Error 17.25%
  • Notary Related Error 14.53%
  • Legal Description Error 8.94%
  • Supporting Document Error 8.68%
  • Wrong County 8.00%
  • Exemption Error 1.67%

A substantial number of documents were rejected for “other” reasons, and the analysis of those documents is not yet complete.

Training and Education

The Iowa Land Records team conducts monthly webinars for submitters and document preparers, as well as produces video tutorials, electronic newsletter articles and social media posts to aid submitters and document preparers. A series of regional seminars is also conducted annually, and these seminars are often eligible for continuing education credit for real estate professionals. The next round of training seminars is planned for the fall of 2020. Training and education is also presented for the benefit of county recorders, deputy recorders and other appropriate county staff.

Reducing Document Rejections – Best Practices

The Property Records Industry Association (PRIA) recently completed a project on the subject of document rejections and they have published a best practices paper on Decreasing Document Rejections. You can download a free copy of the paper here.

The paper documents more than 150 known reasons for rejecting documents submitted for recording, organized into seven general categories and six substantive sub-topics. Best practices are proposed for both county recorders and submitters in the areas of communication, document preparation, document review and use of technology to reduce human error.

A co-chair of the project, and the principal author of Best Practices – Decreasing Document Rejections is Phil Dunshee, Project Manager for the Iowa Land Records system.