County Recorder Education

The Life Skills Gap

I have always been concerned about what and how we help learners. Do we teach them “by the book,” using specific outlines that are given, or do we consider real life situations when providing educational training. I’ve always thought there was a gap. A young niece of mine and I had a conversation one day about “life” as a college student. She was crammed with the traditional courses, but was badly in need of fundamentals of life having to do with budgeting, access to all those credit-card offers, the realities of living with others and sharing rent (oh yes, you better understand when YOU sign the lease, YOU are on the hook for the rent… etc. She wasn’t getting that in school.

Those conversations always get me to thinking we teach what we are required to teach, but do we make sure to include those “other, not required, but really essential” topics? I hope so! My goal as an educator is to help develop people with a depth of real estate knowledge that guides through the potholes and steers them reach their goals. There are lots of potholes in real estate, so there are many topics to cover. My goal is to fill that Life Skills Gap.

This article was originally published by the Association of American Educators on January 30, 2018 Melissa Pratt is the Professional Programs Manager for the Association of American Educators. In this role, she helps connect AAE members with resources and information to further their craft.

There’s been a lot of debate recently on what students need to know to be “college and career ready.” Typically, the debate centers on how high the standards for math and reading should be, how much social studies and science high school grads should participate in, and whether career and technical education should be given renewed emphasis. What seldom gets mentioned are the many small tasks that are essential to everyday life, but never make it into the curriculum.

We know that skills like filing taxes, saving money, applying for jobs, time management skills, and the like can make or break an individual in their first few years of adulthood, but we seldom give thought to how we should approach these skills. Often, schools assume that students are either being taught these skills at home by their parents or gain them through life experience, but that is not always the case. Both research and anecdotal evidence points to our students having trouble with everyday tasks after they graduate from high school.

Despite this, many are unconvinced that schools should be stepping in to help fill this gap. They point to an already crowded curriculum and wonder what we’d be willing to give up to make room for life skill courses. Others worry that a life skill course would be self-defeating. By taking these skills and removing them from the circumstances where they’d be used and needed, we’d be robbing them of their authenticity and relevance, which we know is essential for students to internalize what they’ve learned.

On the opposite side, proponents of teaching life skills argue that no matter how academically successful a student is, they are set up for failure if they can’t master certain essential skills. This fact is urgent for students who may not have a support structure at home to help them muddle through their first years of adulthood. Some students will be taught these skills at home and gain them through life experience, but not all will.

Educators who have placed a high value on teaching life skills have gone a long way to integrate them into the curriculum. Many schools use their extra-curriculars to teach students these skills and allow students to run and manage newspapers, stores, performance scheduling, and other tasks sometimes conducted by staff. A few schools take things further. Slater High School recently debuted their “Life Academy.” This program, which is designed to teach students skills like research, family planning, legal rights, budgeting, etc., will be conducted on days where there is an early dismissal and a normal class schedule is otherwise impossible.

The inclusion of life skills does not have to lead to a full-fledged rewriting of the curriculum or school structure. Individual teachers can help students acquire life skills by raising awareness of them in the classroom through discussion and the incorporation of certain skills into already planned projects and lessons.


Did you know

E-Notarization has been here for some time
Effective July 1, 2006, the Minnesota Legislature enacted electronic notary legislation pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing electronic notarization to be applied to a document so that the document can be fully processed electronically.
To apply for e-Notarization, applicants must be currently registered as an active Minnesota Notary and have the capability to notarize electronically before requesting authorization to perform electronic notarizations.
Physical presence of a person whose signature is being notarized is still required by law (359.01, subd. 5). And notarizing of any MN mortgage and/or real estate documents requires a Closing Agent License unless you fall under specific exemptions – see MSA 82.641.
Before performing electronic notarial acts, a notary public must register or in the case of a recommission, reregister, the capability to notarize electronically with the Secretary of State. There is no fee for this authorization with the secretary of State
To obtain the authorization to perform electronic notarization, complete the E-Notarization Authorization form and certify that you have proof of the filing of your notary commission with the county.

Distance E- Notarization is Coming
Generally, electronic, or e-signatures, use different methods
• In some cases, the signer can use the mouse on their computer to “write” their signature, like you do when you go to the grocery store and sign for your credit card (where it generally looks nothing like your signature;))
• In other cases, a signer types their name and choses their e-signature from an assortment of a type-sets (Script, Monotype, Bradley Hand, etc.)
• In other cases yet, the signer carefully writes his/her signature and takes a photo (likely with their cell phone) and creates a .jpg file that they can use to accurately represent their signature.
• In some cases, signers hold up their Drivers’ Licenses and other Identifying information for the notary to review
• in other cases, like the US Post Office, you must put in a credit card with identifying information
• Yet again, some systems require that you answer information as to the make of your vehicle, previous addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. that likely come from credit reporting companies.
• Will the audio/visual session have to be taped and maintained in the notaries file to be legal?
• Can the notary keep a log instead? There is much to be worked out.
You can see examples of what’s coming in distance notarization at such places as
• Signix
• Safedocs
• DocVerify

Distance notarization laws are currently in effect in only two states -Virginia and Montana. In these states the signer and the notary communicate online. Documents are electronically signed and notarized with the signing parties and notary meeting with audio and video communications similar to “facetime” or “go-to-meeting.” Here, the signer of the document might physically be in New York City and the notary physically in Virginia, MN.

But these state laws vary significantly. In Virginia a notary can perform a remote apostille for a signer that is located anywhere in the world. Montana allows distance notarization only for Montana property where the affiant is a permanent Montana resident.

As industries like closing, title insuring, mortgage lending, etc. are nationwide, dealing with various laws could be challenging. In response to that, The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) are working on distance online notarization with a task force, as are ALTA, the Minnesota Land Title Association, the MN Bar Assoc., Mortgage Bankers Association, MISMO, and others. Hopefully they can come together, soon, with a clear solution that will fit us all.

Carver County Requires Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Form

Effective January 1, 2018, Carver County requires on all sales a Subsurface Sewage System Treatment Form along with the certificate of real estate value, to be presented to the county auditor’s office. While I think it’s a good idea to handle such things at the time of sale, I am reminded of the problems we had a few years ago, where some recorders were refusing to record deeds without Septic Systems being in compliance.

So along with the law as to what is recordable, MSA 507.24, there is also a law stating that a deed cannot be kept from recording for lack of this document.

RECORDING LAW STATUTE MSA115.55 (7) (c) excerpt

Individual Sewage Treatment System (ISTS) Law
New or replacement ISTS systems; local ordinances:

A local unit of government may not adopt and enforce ordinances or rules affecting new or replacement Individual Sewage System Treatments that are more restrictive than the agency’s rules.

Jeanne Comment: This law was enacted because a few small municipalities enacted local ordinances to stop the recording of documents when sewer systems were not up to local standards. While a good idea in concept, abstractors, title companies, attorneys and banks do not search local ordinances when searching title, so that when a loan closed and the documents were unrecordable for extensive periods of time, the lenders interests were not secured and lenders threatened NOT to place any mortgage loans in those locales. Accordingly, the bar association, in conjunction with the Minnesota land title Assoc. succeeded in passing a law to negate the local ISTS ordinances. It is the author’s opinion that anytime a local unit of government attempts to adopt or enforce an ordinance or rule, when its effect is to prevent or delay recording with the county recorder or registrar of titles, of a deed or other instrument that is otherwise entitled to be recorded, either the law will be expanded, or another law passed to prevent the same problem.

Reimagining Land Records and GIS

An event, “Reimagine Land Records – Join the Conversation” orchestrated by the Legislative Committee of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Real Property Section, took place on October 20th. In attendance were an assortment of County Recorders and other County Officials, Land Surveyors, Abstractors, Attorneys, GIS Specialists, Teachers, Land Records Information Systems (LIS) Software Companies and Title Companies.

The session started out with a slide as to what constitutes land records and it was broken down three general categories and who maintains the records and uses them.

Objects (Improvements – roads, physical easements, buildings, etc.
Land Rights (Ownership, estates, government rights, liens, easements, restrictions, etc.)
People (Title, liens that tie to people, etc.)

Discussion revolved around Layers of Information needed by land title specialists and how they can be mixed and used by all most effectively. We all have a stake in this – Homeland Security; FEMA; DOT; Federal, State and local authorities; and hundreds of other entities. My takeaway of the future from the event is as follows:


In the not too distant future, we will feel light-years ahead of today. For those of us who remember typing abstracts on electric typewriters, and getting fax machines in the office, it is truly amazing. Even those who daily toil creating and printing documents, watching people sign, making copies of the signed documents, preparing them for delivery back to the lender and to the respective counties, cutting checks, etc. will see an amazing change.

THERE WILL BE NO PAPER. Documents and closings will be “Born Digital.” They will be created in a secure electronic commerce cyber-system, and emailed to the client through a secure web portal. The closer, a licensed, e-sign notary (perhaps hundreds of miles away from the clients,) will see the clients using a web-cam, review their drivers licenses against the online faces, and e-sign their notary as the clients click through, and e-sign the mortgage, deeds, and other documents.

NO PERSONAL HANDSHAKES when meeting, no paper, no file folders, no copies, no notary stamps or checks, just cyberspace. If owners need information, it will all reside in the cloud, or on their computer or flash drive.


The digitally signed documents will then be electronically submitted back to the lender, with digital copies for the title company, and of course an e-signed digital copy will go directly to the appropriate county (with e-fees) where the documents will move though departments to verify, and reside digitally.

Someday, when the owner takes a future home equity line or sells the property, a title searcher will simply go to a computer to look up the digital documents in cyberspace. But there will be only one place to look up all needed information for each piece of real estate.

A Geographic Information System, accessed by a PIN number (a smart number that ties to Sec- Twp-Rng-1/4 -1/4 and parcel) will open up a Pandora’s Box of information. We will be able to access anything you can imagine about real estate – the physical properties of buildings; terrain; topography; zoning; ownership rights, title and interests; roads; utilities; flood information; zoning; Homeland security; layer after layer.

Records from the – Treasurer, Auditor and Assessor that include current and delinquent taxes (Green Acres, etc.); type of property (single family 3BR, 3BA, 2 story, 2300 sq ft….home); Register of Deeds and Registrar office information (with the ownership, restrictions, easements, mortgages, etc.); District Court files (showing judgments, divorces and court filings against the owners); Death and Probate Court documents; Health and Human Services information (maps of wells and lien information); Federal District Court filings; Dept. of Transportation (updates on roads and widening of streets); Department of Natural Resources; Wind farms; Detailed utility information; FEMA flood maps; City zoning data; Trash bills; Photos of the property with GIS overlays and on and on.

And the records will solve problems besides title searches for many – FEMA, 911, DOT, Homeland Security, Minnegasco, Xcel, public utilities, – when a hurricane or tornado blows through, FEMA can overlay the GIS of the hurricane and know the owners names and rough amount of damage to the property. 911 will have better access to helping people,, because they will estimate number of people impacted, where the nearest hospitals are, and fastest routes to get people there. The DOT will estimate road damage will know where to concentrate their efforts. Gas and electric companies will know where the gas and power are out, and how to proceed as quickly and effectively as possible to make needed repairs.

It’s hard to believe, but the pieces are already there, it’s just (just???) that all the pieces need to be joined into one access point. The future of GIS is coming and it will be interesting.

E-Mortgage filing in North Carolina

Industry News, Technology update
Thursday, August 10, 2017
North Carolina has been at the forefront of eMortgage and eClosing transactions, and Thursday saw the state at the center of another milestone.

The state’s first eMortgage purchase transaction was completed Thursday, with North State Bank; Brady & Kosofsky, PA; DocMagic; Simplifile and World Wide Notary working together to close the deal. The entire process took 46 minutes.

The loan was originated by North State Bank, and closed by the Matthews, N.C.- based law firm of Brady & Kosofsky, the company said in an exclusive announcement to October Research, LLC. Technology used in the transaction was supplied by DocMagic, Inc., World Wide Notary, LLC., Ramquest, LLC and USPROSERV, LLC, while eRecording was provided by Simplifile.

“The closing itself represented the future of the industry,” partner Jaime Kosofsky said.

The closing came in conjunction with a special event hosted by the North Carolina Department of Secretary of State. The event introduced a newly formed North Carolina Electronic Mortgage Closing Advisory Committee, and four of those members participated in the closing Thursday.

The buyer and seller each executed the closing instruments and financing documents with a biometric signature pad, Kosofky said, which helps protect parties from fraud and forgery. The use of electronic signature and notary technology, coupled with the robust legal framework provided by North Carolina state law, makes it possible for lenders to make safe loans within the guidelines of the new TRID guidelines.

The homebuyer was at the Keller Williams office in Mooresville, N.C., and the eSigning agent – who is an eNotary – was present, along with the real estate broker. The closing attorney, who was at the Matthews office 45 miles south, was present via video to preside over the transaction. The register of deeds office is 55 miles away from the Matthews office in Statesville, N.C.

The seller signed the closing materials via signature last week before leaving town.

Among the principal individuals involved in the transaction were:

Ken Sykes, Kelly Arrington and Jamie Harrington from North State Bank. Harrington was the loan officer, and she completed her second eMortgage transaction Thursday.
Jeff Bode of Mid America Mortgage, whose company acted as the investor for the purchase.
Mona Mohajerani, who acted as the closing attorney, and Brady & Kosofsky Executive Operations Director Esther Fernandes, along with eSigning agent Patricia Paxton.
Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Director, Electronic Notarization and Notary Enforcement Ozie Stallworth, who founded the eClosing pilot program in North Carolina.
Jason Streit, president at World Wide Notary, along with the rest of the technology providers involved.

Ever Heard of a PACE Assessment?

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a new way to finance energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades to buildings. PACE pays for new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps, insulation, and more for almost any property – homes, commercial, industrial, non-profit, and agricultural.  The idea is great – who doesn’t want more energy efficiency? Lower Energy Bills? Better Environmental Health?

But real estate agents, closers, abstractors and title companies, BEWARE. We may have a problem.

The PACE advertisement reads:

“Property owners across the US are using PACE because it saves them money and makes their buildings more valuable. PACE pays for 100% of a project’s costs and is repaid for up to 20 years with an assessment added to the property’s tax bill. PACE financing stays with the building upon sale…”

While that is a true statement,  PACE financing does stay with the building upon sale, it’s not quite that simple. Once PACE is added as an assessment, it becomes part of the real estate taxes. And, as we all know, real estate TAXES are a FIRST LIEN.

So, let’s say Home Owner Holly uses PACE to install $30,000 worth of PACE-energy efficient fixtures (with a 5% interest rate on the 20 year PACE Assessment) and enjoys low energy bills.  Two years later, Holly is offered a new job out of town.  She lists the home with Realtor Rick.  Rick is excited because he is an energy efficiency advocate and lists all of the energy upgrades for this fine home, selling for only $249,900.  Bobby Buyer comes along and makes an offer of $240,000.  Holly agrees.  She is thinking the buyer will just take over the house and taxes.

Bobby Buyer applies for a loan of $192,00.  They order title work. The title company and abstractor know that the $28,000 is a first lien along with the taxes.  Holly has not thought to use any of the money saved from her lower electric bills to pay the PACE lien. She thought PACE told her the PACE financing would “stay with the building.”  She never thought she might have to cough up the money at closing.  . Bobby’s lender does not want to be in Second position behind a $28,000 PACE lien, so now the conundrum. Where does that extra $28,000 in PACE money come from at closing?

I’m not saying PACE’s a bad idea, I love energy efficiency! But let’s make sure everyone understands PACE and how it works.



Education Key for Abstracting Success says Thomas Pryde

Here are some excerpts from Thomas Pryde’s new Blog pertaining to abstractors.  To read the entire article click: Thomas Pryde Blog

I couldn’t agree more.

Independent Abstractors: Well Trained Specialists (Part Three)

There are certainly opportunities to succeed in this market. If independent service providers are going to take advantage of them, they must differentiate themselves from the rest of the market, and nothing sets the independent apart from the crowd better than the fact that they know abstracting, in the context of their local areas, better than anyone.

However, while this is a distinct advantage, there are two critical obstacles to getting that message out to clients and convincing them to use your services. Once the obstacles are understood, the opportunities and challenges become clearer.


This is really the point of this article. The message that local expertise results in superior results is not making it to the clients. This may be partially due to a lack of marketing and communication from the independent providers, and/or it may be partially due to the fact that the ultimate clients (consumers and lenders) are frequently insulated from the independent provider that is performing the search.

Even where this is understood there is no way to verify or validate genuine expertise, and therein can be found the biggest challenge. Until there is a broadly accepted education and certification process, there is not likely to be any significant traction gained in regards to the one market value that independent providers can best deliver.

Gains can be made in the other two values, and that will be important. However, very few things would positively impact the market for independent providers better than a robust certification program. Such a program would be good for the market as a whole; it would especially benefit consumers, and independent service providers would have the means to communicate the difference between a discount provider and one with genuine local expertise.

What can be done?

  1. Recognize that you are part of a large group of providers that can significantly impact the market, if there is unity.
  2. Participate in SOT and other social media venues (Linkdin has several communities as well)
  3. Contribute to best practices discussions, in particular, and strive to educate your clients as to why commodity searches are inferior.
  4. Join NALTEA or other professional organizations that can provide the structure for increased cooperation and unity.
  5. Speak up on behalf of better education practices for training abstractors, and join efforts to codify that effort in a certification process.

There is much work to be done, but without a unified commitment to these things, the opportunities will be eaten away slowly, until the idea of independent search services is a thing of the past.


Independent Abstractors: Dying Breed or Valued Specialists?

 A post from Thomas Pryde’s Blog, re-printed with his permission.

The prevailing view among some industry leaders seems to be that the independent abstractor is a dying breed, the last vestige of an ancient way of doing business. This is attributed to the rapidly expanding digitization of title documents and new technology solutions that are being designed to quickly and efficiently obtain and deliver those documents to their clients. This is one example where technology has made promises well beyond what it can actually provide.

Thomas Pryde’s Blog ::

While it is true that the need for independent title abstractors might actually be eliminated if the idealized descriptions of a technology provider’s capabilities proved realistic, proclamations of the imminent demise of their business may be premature. In fact, the independent abstractor has a real opportunity that seems to have been largely overlooked, but in order to understand and take advantage of this opportunity, we have to first examine the promised market of full digitization and automation.

In this oft-prophesied and idealized market, all archived public documents will be available both remotely and digitally, and the client who needs these documents would be able to simply and efficiently obtain them, removing the need for someone to go to the courthouse, manually obtain documents, scan them, and then deliver them back to the client.

All search-related activities could be performed remotely, and there would be no need for any local expertise. This is the essence of what is promised on the back of technology.

However, if digital availability was ubiquitous, if the digitized documents were perfect, and if all the related data was flawless, such technology might indeed eliminate the need for a skilled abstractor. However, achieving such perfection in the document chain would also virtually eliminate the need for the title insurance industry as a whole.

Of course, the reality is (and will continue to be) far from this ideal, and title insurance companies will continue to thrive on the potential existence of problems that might be found in any given document chain. As long as this is true, local expertise and timely results can work together to offer a value proposition that will ultimately trump a mindless search service offered at rock bottom prices.


Legal Description Online Course Sale

biting nails confused childNot quite sure about that legal description?

This online course will show you how to read and draw legal descriptions. Even the “geographically impaired” will learn how to identify the correct parcel on a map, and draw out descriptions to look for possible gaps and overlaps.

An easy and fun course that simplifies and explicates descriptions.

Spring Promotion, Type: MetesandBounds into the Coupon code before March 31st for a $50 savings.

Testimonial for “Principles of Abstracting”Online Course

HI Jeanne,

I  have to pass on this news to you, as you are a HUGE part of my success.

I found out last week that I passed my exam and am Licensed in SD now!!!

I raved of your courses to the Board of Abstracters.  I know I wouldn’t have been successful in this quest so quickly without your help!

(even scored 100% in one of the 5 sections!!)

Thank you!  Thank you!!

For whatever reason this industry is difficult to find training on.  I wish it were required to have the standard of training you provide for all individuals to be licensed in any state!

Traci Renkly

Office Manager/Closing Agent

Brookings County Title Company

422 4th Street

Brookings, SD 57006

Info On Home Closing

Home Closing 101: An Educational Initiative of the American Land Title Association