I worked in Los Angeles for about 10 years and Los Angeles has (or had) some unique recording issues that were different than any other county in the state, and they had their own solutions. For example,
1) Los Angeles records many more than 5,000 docs a day. It was between 15,000 and 20,000 a day when they were busy and around 10,000 on a normal day.
2) About 1/3 to 1/2 of those documents are submitted by the title companies.
3) Los Angeles was the first county in the United States to have a computerized title plant (I learned from someone who's first job was delivering 'punch cards' to or from the posters in the early 60's) - and they applied this to their recording concerns. So they have had their systems in place for close to 50 years.
When I first started in Los Angeles, coming from much smaller San Mateo county, I mentioned that my last job in San Mateo was to index all my morning recordings for changes before recording and I asked how this was done in Los Angeles. I was told that it is completely automated. The plants in L.A. automatically checks all transactions set to record that morning and if there is a possible conflict, they show up in a "fallout" report in the morning for the title officers. Recordings are then 'pulled' based on that report. My first question when I read this article was - why did that not happen here?
This next part may have completely changed since Los Angeles went to electronic recordings some years back, but when I was there, L.A. county reserved blocks of numbers for the title company recordings. By 4:30 A.M. (when title company and county employees showed up and started recording for the day) each service company had their block of numbers assigned that would be for their recordings that day. Since everyone has the same 8:00 time stamp, and the plant systems are supposed to catch these conflicting recordings, I never heard of this being a problem before.
So, because of their volume, Los Angeles has some complicated recording processes that are unique to Los Angeles.
But I believe it is commonly understood, like Will said, that if a conflict arises based on the time stamp, then it defaults to sequence of the document numbers. Ask any title officer in California and I bet you will get the same answer.
"The indexing timestamp does not break ties in California when the recording timestamps of two documents show the exact same time. Neither mortgage is first, so they both have equal priority, the court ruled."
OF COURSE the indexing time stamp does not break ties in California! Otherwise county recorders would not sit on stacks of IRS liens for two weeks waiting until they had the time to index them. It has always been first to submit. But the above statement says nothing about the document numbers - which dogma says should be the tie breaker. Now I want to look this case up and see if this is even mentioned. And since I was taught to never trust dogma, I am also curious if there is a statute or precedent regarding document numbers breaking the tie.
Since, in my mind, this is a title company systems issue, I agree with Mr. Smith that the insurers should have split the loss up between themselves - then they should fix the hole in their system.
And Mr. Patterson is right about San Francisco! We have been asking, begging, yelling, threatening, cajoling... the San Francisco County Recorder to keep their index current for over 10 years. A three week index date in California is insane - not just for Notice of Trustee's Sales, but for Bulk Sales (12 day window), Mechanics liens (30 day window) etc. The answer they keep giving? Staff out with the flu, short staffed, really busy, having to train, computers down. The same issues every government agency and business in world has to deal with. You are not unique. This is so frustrating for us. Sure! We don't mind being sued for a million dollars because you can't keep your index current! We're fine with that. Grrrrrrr!
Mr. Smith, can you give me the case name for this? I would like to look this one up.
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