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Home buyers beware of high priced real estate deeds

Albany lawyers say paying large amounts for real estate deeds is unnecessary

Dougherty County Clerk of Superior Court Yvonne Mull says residents can get copies of real estate deeds for $1 a page and have them certified for an additional $2. When she learned out of town companies were soliciting home buyers to purchase copies through them at upward of $100, Mull said, “It’s outrageous!” (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Dougherty County Clerk of Superior Court Yvonne Mull says residents can get copies of real estate deeds for $1 a page and have them certified for an additional $2. When she learned out of town companies were soliciting home buyers to purchase copies through them at upward of $100, Mull said, “It’s outrageous!” (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — Albany attorneys and real estate agents want home buyers to know paying an outside company large amounts of money to obtain certified copies of property deeds is unnecessary.

Recently, attorneys who specialize in real estate closings have had an increasing number of clients contact them after receiving letters from different companies throughout the country offering to obtain certified copies of real estate deeds for prices as high as $89.

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Yvonne Mull, clerk of court for Dougherty County, pulls a deed book from the county record room. Mull said her office is happy to provide home owners with copies of their deeds for $1 a page and an additional $2 to certify it. “Our personnel is here to help the public,” she said. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

These attorneys want prospective home buyers to be wary of this service, since getting a certified deed is part of any real estate closing.

“In an ordinary real estate closing, the attorney sends the warranty deed to be recorded at the court house to become part of the public record,” said Wallace Bonner of Moore, Clark DuVall and Rodgers PC. “Once the deed has been recorded the attorney will send a certified copy to the customer; usually a couple of weeks after the closing.”

According to Bonner, who also serves as council for the Albany Board of Realtors, he has had an increasing number of clients call him after receiving letters from outside agencies urging them to buy deeds. Fortunately, Bonner said most of his clients called him before acting, thus saving themselves the unnecessary expense.

“The fact of the matter is you’re going to get a deed after closing,” Bonner said. “The service that’s being offered is unnecessary.”

Bonner said customers who might have lost their deeds can obtain certified copies from their local courthouse for a fraction of the cost of using one of the out of town companies.

“Accidents happen and you could lose your deed,” said Bonner. “The owner can go to the clerk of court and obtain a certified copy of their deed. There is no reason to pay $89 for the service being offered (in these letters).”

According to Dougherty County Clerk of Superior Court Evonne Mull, customers who need a copy of a deed can obtain one themselves directly from the courthouse for a cost of one dollar per page and can have it certified for an additional two dollars.

“We can do that for you,” Mull said, “You don’t have to have an attorney come down here or anything. We’re a public office and we want to help the public.”

The Albany Board of Realtors is also aware of the letters and has urged local agents to make sure they mention it to their clients as well, urging home buyers to talk to their closing attorneys and real estate agents before taking any action.

“We recommend that if you get a letter like this, you contact your agent or your attorney,” said Dianne Barlow, who serves as president of the Albany Board of Realtors. “Don’t take a letter like that and act on it. Always, if in doubt, call your attorney for guidance.”

Barlow added that she urges her clients to always be wary of any potential scams that might arise around the time of real estate closings, especially giving out any important information or sending money anywhere.

“A lot of people are so excited when they buy a new home that they don’t hear everything that’s said at the closing,” Barlow said. “I try to warn them of these things. People need to know what they’re up against.”

While some of the things Barlow mentioned, such as scam artists soliciting certain information such as credit card or bank account numbers, the companies who are offering the deed service are, in truth, not breaking any laws; rather they are relying people’s lack of understanding to make money for themselves.

“It’s perfectly legal, just not necessary,” said Bonner. “Its really just a waste of money.”

Dougherty County residents can obtain deed copies by visiting the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court in room 126 in county courthouse located at 225 Pine Ave.

Residents in Lee County needing copies can obtain them in the real estate department office on the first floor of the Courthouse at 100 Leslie Highway, Leesburg. The cost for Lee County deeds is one dollar per page and an additional $2.50 to have it certified.

In Worth County, the cost of certified deed copies is $2.50 for the first page and 50 cents for each additional page. Residents can obtain those copies in Room 13 of the Worth County Clerk of Court’s office located at 201 N. Main Street, Sylvester.