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Source of Title Blog

GIMP
by Robert Franco | 2007/02/06 |

I have been critical of the use of technology in the indexing of our public records (see Bring Back The Books!). However, I feel the need to clarify my criticism a bit. I would love to see the official index kept by the county recorders' offices remain a handwritten, book index. Should they decide to also maintain a secondary, more convenient indexing system, I have no problem with that. Furthermore, I think any privately maintained title plant would be remiss if it did not make the best, most efficient use of technology.

What's the difference? Well, our nation's real estate records are too important to trust to the technology as it exists today. Someone should be maintaining a fail-proof index of those records. The use of electronic indexing as a secondary index, or for use in private title plants, should be a sort of testing grounds for new technology.

So, I though it would be interesting to explore my ideal indexing system utilizing the latest technology. I call it GIMP (Graphic Index Map Plotting). I think a system could be devised that WOULD be capable of returning a completed title search in under a minute. But this cannot be accomplished by simply scanning the documents into a computer and having cheap, unskilled labor OCR and index the documents. 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.

When assignments and releases are found, they would be examined as they were entered to be sure that they conform to their legal requirements and linked to their respective documents by ID number or book and page. Court and probate records, including judgments, would also have to be added and they would be included automatically by party name and dates.

GIMP would be better than any other system because it would be created by skilled, professional abstractors rather than cheap laborers in India or the Phillipines. It would even be better than the indexes maintained by our county clerks. Though I'm sure there are a lot of very good clerks working in many of the counties across the country, it has been my experience that many do not fully understand what we, as abstractors, do or how we utilize the records they maintain. Furthermore, many are simply over their heads with the technology that has been implemented in their offices.

GIMP is just a pipe-dream. It would be too expensive to create and maintain. But wouldn't it be nice if the indexes were created by those who know them best? Combine that with the best technology has to offer and I think it would be a dynamite system.

The point here is that you cannot adequately get to where the industry seems to want to go if you cut corners on the indexing AND searching. So, why not an approach that takes advantage of real title professionals indexing the information to make it more useful? How about just shifting good abstractors from the back-end to the front?

Robert A. Franco
SOURCE OF TITLE
rfranco@sourceoftitle.com
 

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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
SOURCE OF TITLE

 

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