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A Time-Saving Title Search Tool?
by Robert Franco | 2017/05/29 |

There really haven't been many advances in title searching in a couple of decades - not since the book indices were replaced by computers.  Even then, it's arguable whether that was really an improvement.  I'm old-school -- I prefer the books.  I think it was quicker to search a name in the books, particularly when it was a common name, or one susceptible of several spelling variations.  Sure, the digitization of the records has made it easier to remotely access the records, but has it really changed the way we search? 

Source of Title Blog ::

Well, someone has finally improved the way abstractors search titles.  Pam Hurst, Hamilton County Tennessee Register of Deeds announced the release of Quick Search, a software program which integrates sales data from the Hamilton County Assessor's Office with her office's remote access system.  

The purpose of the software is to accelerate the real property title search process to create a chain of title, Hurst said. She created the rules for Quick Search and programmer Bobby Deberry developed it.

"Chattanooga is a hotbed for innovation, and that includes innovation in county government," Hurst said. "Our office uses ideas and technology to help the legal community work faster and more efficiently. We can help Register's Office customers more easily."

Quick Search offers time-saving features, such as the ability to search chains of title and associated names simultaneously. It allows users to print every deed in the chain of title together in one print job.

Hurst said the original software has received praise since its May 16 release, when her office held a training session for 160 attorneys, surveyors, title examiners and government representatives.

I haven't used Quick Search, so I don't have any first hand data to share.  But, I am genuinely excited to see someone use technology to improve the process.  The advancement from books to the computer wasn't really an improvement in the process - it was just another example of the digital mimicking the analog.  Quick Search, on the other hand, seems to use the data together with records from the tax assessor to provide something new... something better.... that actually makes the job easier. 

Back in 2007 I wrote a blog about my vision for what technology could do for abstracting - GIMP (Graphic Index Map Plotting).  It was my vision of a perfect indexing system that would allow a completed search to be printed by simply selecting a parcel from a map.  

It would require several very skilled abstractors to create the database. Basically, conduct the examination as the records are entered, rather than after the fact.

Imagine an indexing system that was built on a graphical deed plotting system with the capabilities of software such as Deed Plotter. Each document would be examined by an abstractor to make sure that it conforms to all of its legal requirements, i.e. it is signed, witnessed, notarized, etc. Then, the legal description is plotted to give a graphical representation. The party names and dates would, of course, also have to be entered.

Those documents that do not require a legal description would be entered in the standard way they are handled now. They would be indexed by grantor/grantee and date.

Then when searching the database, rather than entering a name, parcel number, or address, you would simply pull up the map and select the parcel you wanted searched. The computer would check all of the parcels in that area and lay them out on the map. Any documents that have been plotted that overlap the selected parcel would be shown on the search. All of the documents that did not have a legal description would be automatically included using the names on those documents that did have a legal description and narrowed by the dates on the documents already found.

The point is that technology is more than just another medium to present the same old information. It can do more, and it should be made to do more. Kudos to Pam Hurst for taking advantage of it.  We should see more innovation.  And, it's great to see the innovation coming from a county official.  



Categories: Abstractors, Innovation, Technology

946 words | 5927 views | 3 comments | log in or register to post a comment

Sure death for the abstracting profession?
I like the idea of GIMP as well as the new program in Tennessee.  I can definitely see the opportunity for programmers to think outside of the box but I also wonder how long it would be before that innovation leaves abstractors jobless?  Sure, the GIMP system would require abstractors on the data entry side but once the system was up I'm afraid that once again we would be the victim of progress. 
by Laura Johnston | 2017/05/30 | log in or register to post a reply

Death of abstracting

A couple of thoughts about this.  Massachusetts has had computerized indexing since the 1980's and online documents available pretty much back to the year one for about 10 years or so. Probate indices are  available online for all counties in MA.  We also have "Oliver" which more or less has GIS maps for every city/town in the state (Oliver is a state maintained system - not within the Registry purview).  Most towns have assessor's maps available online along with assessment data.  

Seems perfect, but sometimes it isn't.  One problem is data entry - not all the Registries use the same nomenclature for documents.  A "certificate" in one Registry might not mean the same thing in another Registry, even though they both share a common computer system.  It's a trap for the unwary; out of county, out of state, & out of continent examiners might feel comfortable jumping right in, but the bright, shiny computer screens may not tell the entire story.

I also believe that a title is only as good as the last person who did it.  Right now I'm looking at a variety of  issues on different titles; so the fact that titles can now be done at the speed of light doesn't necessarily guarantee a quality work product.  

It comes down to still needing the skill set to read and interpret documents, so I am hoping that more technology won't be the death knell of abstracting; but time pressure generally equals a downwards push on fees as well, so maybe tech advances will spell the end of abstracting as we know it 


by Leigh Attridge | 2017/05/30 | log in or register to post a reply

I concur with the general sentiment that the advancement in information technology will likely make many abstractors hard to keep their jobs or their clients.  On the other hand, abstractors could consider to branch out to other real estate related service while making their abstracting practice Much More Efficient to cut down cost, thus, to remain competitive while still profitable. 
by Don (Chunshen) Li | 2017/06/19 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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