The Recording Process
The Recording Act of California provides that any instrument affecting title to (or possession of) real property may be recorded. A deed must be acknowledged in a formal declaration by a notary public to show that he/she did execute the document. A notary public is a licensed officer that witnesses the acknowledgment, which protects against forgery.
A valid document is recorded with the county recorder within the county where the property is located. When the recorder receives a document, the original is marked as "filed for record" along with a timestamp and is returned to the person. The instrument is copied and indexed under the last name of the parties.
Recording serves the function of protecting subsequent bona fide purchasers ("BFP") for value. Recording any conveyance regarding real property gives notice to subsequent buyers. Constructive notice presumes that everyone has notice of a particular recorded document because it can be looked up in the public record. On the other hand, if a person has direct, express information about the ownership interest of a property, it is called actual notice. Actual notice involves seeing the grant deed, for example.
Recording laws are in place to protect against fraud and to give others notice of property ownership. Priority is determined by the timestamp on the document and means the order in which deeds are recorded. California follows a race-notice recording statute, which reads that the first valid deed that is recorded determines the owner, unless there is actual or constructive notice of another.
This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.