Recorder’s office is often residents’ first contact |

Recorder’s office is often residents’ first contact

by Melissa Blosser
Special to The R-C

Aubrey Rowlett, Betty Hendon, Shannon DeCorse, Pam Kronenberg, Shawnyne Garren, and County Recorder Karen Ellison on the courthouse steps.

The Douglas County Recorder's Office is a busy place facilitating multiple recording transactions and can be especially important in serving as the first point of contact for those looking to relocate to the area.

"We seem to leave a very good impression with the new people that come to Douglas County and the people who live and work here," said Douglas County Recorder Karen Ellison. "The public is so appreciative of the service that we offer and it makes it all worthwhile."

When relocating to the area, the recorder's office could be their first stop when looking to buy a home or relocate a business due to the fact they are an integral component in the residential and commercial real property markets in Douglas County providing and maintaining a database of all of the documents that evidence claims against each parcel of real property in the county. Before most real property transactions take place, buyers or lenders evaluate the vesting of a deed in a property and the existing claims on the property to understand their effect on a prospective transaction.

"As we enter a time period of economic recovery, the real property market is beginning to stabilize and recordings are much more predictable," said Ellison."Our office is recording a few more deeds because of property sales, and more deeds of trusts (mortgages) because of the low interest rates and time share recordings have been fairly consistent either through the sales or foreclosures of time share interests."

Services provided by the recorder to the public are mandated by the state and require they record all documents relating to real property transactions in Douglas County such as deeds, deeds of trust, liens, recorded maps, and easements. The statute also requires these documents be provided to the public for inspection. In addition, they also record marriage licenses and mining documents.

All of these transactions keep the recorder's office employees busy answering numerous phone calls, assisting walk-in customers with their research questions or recording their documents received electronically or by mail. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the documents recorded are received electronically. Many of the documents recorded in the recorder's office will go on to be used by the assessor's and treasurer's offices creating a trail of public record.

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As technology moves forward, the recorder's office has been working over the past five years, to convert documents to a digital format so that they can be researched electronically.

"Documents recorded in Douglas County prior to 2003 were not accessible to the public except by film and microfiche. This made them extremely cumbersome to research and retrieve," said Ellison. "We have converted documents recorded from 1960 to 1971, which are available on the public computers, and documents from 1981 to the present which are available online and on the public computers in our office."

Ellison states that over the next couple of years the remaining documents on film and microfiche from 1972 to 1980 will be made available online as well.

The current recording system is a combination of four systems cobbled together, and none interface well with the others leading the recorder to seek out a more efficient system.

"We have been evaluating new recording systems for the past few months, and hope to acquire and implement a new system by July or August of this year. The new system will greatly improve the efficiency of our office in anticipation of future growth in Douglas County," said Ellison.

Along with Clark and Washoe Counties, Douglas County is one of three counties in the state where timeshare operations are located. Currently there are approximately 39,000 deeded timeshare owners with an interest in a timeshare unit in Douglas County, compared to approximately 27,000 deeded parcels located in the county.

"With the large number of timeshare owners, we receive calls from all over the country (and international calls) regarding documents relating to their timeshare ownership," said Ellison. "The majority of these questions relate to the transfer of their interest to their children, grandchildren, or to deed into a trust."

One interesting fact one might know about the recorder's office is in Nevada, a marriage license can be purchased from any county clerk's office in the state and can be used in any other location in Nevada to conduct a marriage ceremony. However, the actual license is still recorded in the county recorder's office where it was originally purchased, which may not be where the ceremony took place. Understanding this is especially critical in today's world with the implementation of the National ID program and the Affordable Care Act.

"We receive requests by people from all over the country who are frantically looking for proof of their marriage to prove their name change when applying for health insurance, social security, a passport, or a new driver's license," said Ellison.

With all of these day-to-day functions Ellison relies on her team of employees to process public information and help with the recording process.

"Team work is the backbone of this department, even though each employee brings a diverse background to the department, the personalities of our staff complement each other well and we enjoy each other's company," said Ellison. "We try to provide a warm and relaxed environment for those that visit our office, along with professional service. "