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Questions (FAQ)

Q: What are the hours of the Register of Deeds Office?

A: The office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Real and personal property documents presented after 4:00 p.m. may be recorded or filed on the following working day. Please check here for holidays that the office is closed.

Q: What are the recording fees?

A: The recording fee for a deed, mortgage, lis pendens or other real estate instrument is $30.00. Any document which assigns or discharges more than one instrument, $3.00 shall be added to the recording fee for each additional instrument being assigned or discharged. For more detail, please view the Recording of Documents page.

Q: Where is the Register of Deeds located?

A: The street address is 125 W. Main Street (M-86), Centreville, Michigan 49032, in the St. Joseph County Historical Courthouse. The Register of Deeds office is located on the 2nd floor of the building. Click here for further directions.

Q: Can you prepare my document, or give me the forms to use?

A: No, the Register of Deeds does not prepare any legal document, nor do we give legal advice. Forms may be obtained from an office supply company. If you need assistance, please contact an attorney or a real estate agent.

Q: Does the document need to be witnessed and notarized?

A: Documents executed in the state of Michigan prior to March 4, 2002 must have the signatures and printed names of two witnesses. The documents must be notarized with the notary showing their printed name, county/state of commission and expiration date. After March 4, 2002, no witness are required, only a notary.

Q: Where can I find a notary?

A: Financial institutions, credit unions, funeral homes, title companies, realtors, automobile dealerships, and many other businesses. Their may be a fee for the notary’s services.

Q: Can I record a copy of my deed?

A: No, only the original documents can be recorded.

Q: Can I record my deed or other documents by mail?

A: Yes, documents can be either mailed or brought in to the office for recording.

Q: How long before I get my document returned to me?

A: If the customer/attorney hand-delivered the document to our counter, or if the document was sent thru the mail, it will take approximately 2-3 days. If it came to us through a title company or a bank, the documents will be returned in 2-3 days to the title company or bank. It will be entirely up to the title company or bank when they return it to you.

Q: What if I need my document back the same day?

A: If necessary, your recorded document can be processed and returned while you wait at the counter.

Q: What documents have to be tax certified?

A: All warranty deeds, deeds which contain a covenant of warrant, land contracts, and assignments of land contract, which contain a covenant of warrant, must have a tax certification from the county Treasurer’s office.

The fee for tax certification is $5.00 for unlimited descriptions.This fee can be included in your recording fee check.

Q: How do I put someone’s name on my deed or how do I take someone’s name off my deed?

A: You need to have an attorney draft a deed for you. Then you bring it to the Register of Deeds office for recording. There may be many questions that should be asked of an attorney when you are thinking about adding someone’s name on your deed. Such as, if I add my son and daughter in-law’s name on my deed, what happens if they get a divorce? If I add my children’s name to my deed, and I need to borrower money to put on a new roof, or make home improvements, will this be a problem? Please talk with an attorney before you make any changes to your deed.

Q: My spouse passed away and our property is in both of our names, what do I do?

A: Bring in a certified copy of the death certificate along with appropriate recording fees and we will record it.

Q: When an instrument is recorded that legally removes the name of an owner (like a death certificate), will I receive a new document showing the current owners?

A: No. The Register of Deeds is just a recording office. State law mandates that if a document meets state requirements, then the Register of Deeds must accept and record that document. The Register of Deeds Office does not draft documents.

Q: Who can get a copy of my deed?

A: Anyone, they are public record. There is a charge of $1.00 per page for each copy.

Q: How do I search for a deed?

A: You need a grantor or grantee name to search any land record information and you should have an approximate transaction year to search. More recent transactions may also be searched by the property tax identification number, if it was provided on the instrument. The best way to conduct a search may be in person. The Register of Deeds staff will be glad to demonstrate how to use our computer system and/or the grantor/grantee card file.

Q: Why are deeds and mortgages recorded in your office?

A: The mission of a recording office, with respect to real property transactions, is to provide a trustworthy place where instruments and notices concerning ownership of and encumbrances against real property can be located by all creditors, subsequent purchasers, and others with an economic interest in the property.

The means by which land recording offices achieve their mission is not only by maintaining original copies of all real-estate related documents required to be recorded in secure, non-alterable form, but also by providing searchers with a means of accessing these documents through indexes to the documents recorded, sorted into an orderly listing.

The purpose of recording instruments and notices applicable to real property transactions or encumbrances is to provide an inexpensive legal means to protect the interest of owners (deed holders) and encumbrances by notifying all creditors, subsequent purchasers, and others with an economic interest in a parcel or real property about ownership of any encumbrances against that property.

Q: Why is there a 2 ½ inch top margin requirement?

A: The State passed a law on April 1, 1997 that requires a 2 ½ inch top margin and ½ margins on all other sides. This is to allow room for the recording information, transfer tax stamp etc.

Q: How do I find who owns certain property?

A: If you do not know the property owner’s name, you may contact the Land Resource Centre or Treasurer’s Office. Land Resource Centre is where you will find Equalization/Land Description. They can help you verify legal descriptions, parcel numbers, property splits, Rural Identification (address) and any zoning or school district questions. GIS can provide you with property maps and aerial maps.

These offices will provide you with the name(s) that appear on the tax roll, which may or may not be the owner(s). With these names, you can then search our office for any recorded information. If you have a name and approximate transaction year to search, and come in to our office, we may be able to provide you with recorded information.

Q: Do you handle property auctions through a tax sale?

A: No. Please see the St. Joseph County Treasurer’s web pages.

Q: Can I get genealogy information?

A: Yes, you can. You need the approximate year of the transactions, parties’ names, and need to be prepared for heavy lifting. Some of the old records are in heavy books. You may want to bring someone to assist you. Plan on spending several hours when you come to do your search. Copies of documents that you find may be purchased at the cost of $1.00 per page.

Q: Can someone do a genealogy search for me?

A: Yes, we have several people who are willing to do searches. There is a fee for their service, and they work independently, from the Register’s office.

Genealogy Society – Cemetery Records
Martha Starmann
116 W. Chicago Road
White Pigeon, MI 49099
(269) 483-7122

Q: Where are Sheriff’s Sales Held?

A: The sale is held at 10:00 a.m. each Thursday, on the second floor of the historical courthouse, by Bruce Morse. The deputy sheriff, holding the sale, is acting on behalf of the foreclosing bank. For information regarding foreclosure sales please contact our office at 269-467-5552 on Thursday's between 10:00 am and 11:00 am to speak to the deputy sheriff holding the sale.

Q: Sheriff’s Deeds - Is this where I come to redeem my property?

A: Yes, we handle Sheriff’s Deed Redemptions (during the redemption period). Arrangements can also be made through the involved companies, such as, the financial institutions or their legal counsel, to redeem property directly from them. After the redemption period has expired, only they can help you.

Q: Sheriff’s Deeds – Can I get a payoff amount for a foreclosure?

A: We cannot give figure payoff amounts for properties in foreclosure, for any workday, during the redemption period. We can get you a copy of the affidavit of redemption that is required to be with your Sheriff's Deed. This will give you the per diem amount and allow you to come up with the figures yourself. it also gives a designated person to contact to get the redemption amount figured for you for a fee. Any redemption of a foreclosure must be received in certified or cashier’s funds by 5:00 p.m. on the last day of the redemption period. back to top If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the Register of Deeds office at (269) 467-5552.


If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the Register of Deeds office at (269) 467-5552.