Larry Ward

06:16 AM PST on Monday, January 10, 2011

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Last year, the Riverside County recorder’s office handled 630,000 property titles — about 2,500 every single work day.

It’s a laborious, multistep process that requires county workers to physically check each document — some as long as 25 pages — for legal requirements, scan each into a computer and then mail the paperwork back to title companies and property owners.

All of that will soon be a thing of the past.

Riverside County on Dec. 20 accepted its first electronically filed property title and so far has processed nearly 70 that way.

Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward said he hopes all title companies and financial institutions will file the documents electronically within six months to a year.

It is a benefit to his office and the title companies, he said.

“They can submit documents 24-hours a day,” he said. “We don’t have to physically handle the documents.”

Lawmakers in 2003 approved legislation allowing county recorders to accept electronically filed documents, provided the software system used is certified by the state attorney general.

Since then, counties across the state have started allowing title companies and others to digitally file. San Bernardino County already accepts the documents electronically.

Riverside County has partnered with Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties on its software package, Ward said.

With the paper records system, it takes workers as long as 10 minutes to process a single title, said Melissa Garcia, a supervising technician in the Riverside County recorder’s office.

At the recorder’s Gateway Drive office in Riverside, a technician first examines the documents to make sure they meet legal requirements.

The paperwork then moves to another employee who calculates the filing fee and bills the title company. Stacks of the titles are carted up to a second floor where they are prepped and scanned.

After scanning, the documents are mailed back to the title companies.

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