The Voice • September 2018


We are pleased to share that our partner in Watonwan County, MN recently composed an article for publication in a local newspaper to give constituents a clear perspective of the importance of the recording office and the records contained therein.

Watonwan County Recorder Joy Sing wanted to share her perspective with the public to communicate how the county recording office affects property ownership and the history of every individual property within the county.

The article reads as follows:

You own a home. But can you prove it?

If you own your home, or any real estate for that matter, you can relate to the all-too-real struggle of maintaining all the files and documents that come along with it. The deed, the title, the insurance … all the records that have been associated with that piece of property since its inception.

It truly is a struggle. And that’s for just ONE property.

Now, imagine maintaining all of those documents for a county with a population north of 11,000.

It may sound like a job 99% of people would never want to do, but the importance of maintaining these records is essential.

That’s exactly what the Watonwan County Recorder does – maintains those records.

All of the records pertaining to your property since the establishment of Watonwan County are archived in this office.

We still have the dusty old books that were hand-written back in the late 1800s, and yes, they ARE still used. They are the official record.

We have imaged them throughout the years to be able to view them digitally, as well as preserve them. All of our records in the Watonwan County Recorder’s office are – I’ll say it again – the official record.

It’s where abstractors research documentation to update and create new abstracts. It’s where title searches are done to write title insurance.

Without these records and this office … how would you be able to provide proof or validation that you own your property?

The answer: you wouldn’t be able to.

Unlike other countries, we have the right to own our houses; our land. This gives us an economic advantage to use the equity of our homes and land as capital for small businesses or improvements.

But without the proper documentation, this would be impossible, which is why the Watonwan County Recorder’s Office is an integral piece of this economic puzzle.

We are here not only to prove ownership and allow lenders to secure their loans, but to protect all parties’ interests.

The recorder’s job is to file all of the documents needed to facilitate the real estate transactions, secure them and ensure they’re accessible to public research.

Though the process has gotten a facelift throughout its lifespan – from the dusty, hand-written, large-ledger books to the now digitally imaged copies – the significance has never waned. In fact, it’s only become more vital.

Since I was elected in 2003, we’ve scanned each of those old, dusty ledger books and can now view them digitally.

Sure, there were some innovative forms of storing records along the way, such as microfilm – though that didn’t last long.

Just as everything has seemingly jumped to a screen of some sort, be it a computer or phone, our records have, too. This process was facilitated by outside vendors and our current software vendor.

Watonwan County has worked with Fidlar Technologies since 2000. They are a software and technology company that is aware of the indispensable information county recorder’s offices hold. Fidlar is dedicated to preserving county real estate records and allowing easy access and viewership of them.

We recently upgraded to their premier program called AVID. This program allows us to both scan and index the necessary information, and search it in two separate search programs – Tapestry and Laredo.

Tapestry is a one-time search tool available to anyone for a one-time credit-card charge for each search. Laredo is a subscription tool used by abstractors, title companies and attorneys with a monthly charge depending on usage.

With our society moving at a faster pace than it ever has, there was an intense push by the title industry to speed up the process. This meant, no more sending paper copies to the recorder’s office. It’s now possible through eRecording.

Fidlar’s program – which has major security and safety features built into it – allows us to use eRecording to send and receive documents electronically from a trusted submitter.

As these technologies grow and progress, so, too, do the laws that accompany them.

So, it’s no longer a job that is given to the person who has the best handwriting in the county. It requires the knowledge and attention to detail to understand and interpret the statutes that ensure each submission is in accordance with the law.

Undoubtedly, the recording process has been revolutionized since the 1800s, as have the skills required to fulfill the duties of the Watonwan County Recorder. And there’s no doubt it will continue to be revolutionized.

This is why the services we provide – diligently and aimed at perfection – to each home and property owner are essential.