Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Register of Deeds Office?
The Register of Deeds Office is where nearly all documents pertaining to real estate are recorded and maintained. Many of these records are publicly accessible under the Kansas Open Records Act (K.S.A. 45-220).
Who is the Register of Deeds?
The register of deeds is an elected county official who serves a four-year term and is legally responsible for keeping and preserving all records in a permanent manner (K.S.A. 19-1204). The current Register of Deeds is Tonya Buckingham.
Where is the Register of Deeds Office?
The Register of Deeds office is located at:
Sedgwick County Courthouse
525 N Main Ste. 227
Wichita, KS 67203-3733
Hours: Monday- Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Deeds and Recording Requirements
What is a deed?
A deed is a legal document that contains information about who owns a particular piece of real property. It states the previous owner's name, called the grantor, and the current owner's name, called the grantee. When real estate ownership changes, a deed is the legal document that transfers the ownership.
What if I lose my deed?
If your deed is misplaced or lost, a copy may be obtained from the Register of Deeds Office for a fee of $1 per page. If you need a certified copy, we can prepare one for $13.00 per certification.
Does a deed have to be recorded?
A recorded deed publicly shows the change of ownership. Failure to record a deed could render transfer or mortgaging of the property impossible and create numerous legal difficulties.
What are your recording requirements?
- Original signatures (K.S.A. 58-2209)
- A notary acknowledgment (K.S.A. 58-2211)
- A Sedgwick County legal description (K.S.A. 58-2221)
- Appropriate filing fees (K.S.A. 28-115 (a)(5))
- Legible with sufficient space for recordation (K.S.A. 28-115(e))
What happens to my document when it arrives at your office?
- The document is reviewed for statutory recording requirements. If any of these requirements are not met, the document may be returned unrecorded (K.S.A. 58-2221).
- The document is assigned a unique instrument number on a label with a barcode and scanned into our computer system. (K.S.A. 19-1204 (b))
- Staff members enter the parties and legal description into the index. (K.S.A. 19-1205)
- The data is compared to the recorded image and verified so it can be retrieved later. (K.S.A. 19-1213)
- The document is returned to the filer. (K.S.A. 58-2256)
When will I get my document back in the mail?
Please allow 7 to 10 business days to receive your original recorded instrument back in the mail.
When will I get my document back if I bring it in person?
We will review, record, and scan your document and give it back to you before you leave the office.
Document Copies Questions
What is an index?
An index is a location system that allows us to search for your document by recorded document number, party name, or legal description. Before April 1988, we kept the indexes in written or typed books, organized by grantor and grantee.
How do I find the deed to my house, or other records?
If your deed was recorded after January 1, 1969, you can use our online document search to find it. Click here to go to the Online Document Search.
What if the deed or other document was recorded before 1969?
Contact the county clerk and ask for the last transfer date of the property, along with the party names. You will need to provide an address or legal description.
After you have the transfer date and a name, contact us and we will search the grantor/grantee index books to find the book and page of the deed.
We will print copies from the microfilm at a cost of $1.00 per page.
For documents other than deeds, you will need to contact a title company.
What is a title company?
A title company, also called a title abstract company, is a business that searches for all records in any department, whether local, state, or federal, that might affect the marketability of title to a parcel of land. They produce an abstract, which is a summary history of the parcel, showing transfers of title, any liens, and other information.
Liens and Legal Questions
What does a lien do? Do I have any on my property?
A lien on real property prevents that property from being sold or mortgaged until the lien is discharged. Liens are filed in local, state, and federal offices. Because of the different filing offices, the Register of Deeds Office is unable to provide a guarantee that your title is free and clear of liens.
Can you tell me if I have any liens in your office?
We can tell you what records we may have in our office but we cannot make any statement or guarantee about how those records affect the title to your property. You would need to consult an attorney or title company to answer that question.
Can I draft my own deed or other document?
You may create your own deed if you feel comfortable doing so. We always recommend that you retain an attorney or title company to ensure that the deed is prepared correctly.
Can you help me choose or fill out a deed form?
A deed is a legal form, and telling you how to fill out a legal form is giving legal advice. The Register of Deeds Office staff are not legally trained and we do not want to give incorrect advice.
Where can I find legal assistance if I do not have an attorney?
Kansas Legal Services gives free or low cost civil legal advice and representation for persons whose incomes make them eligible.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What other records do you have beside deeds?
In addition to deeds and mortgages, we record oil and gas documents, plats of additions, powers of attorney, military discharges (not open to the public), some types of federal and state tax liens, uniform commercial code filings, and other instruments that affect real estate in Sedgwick County.
Does the Register of Deeds Office keep records forever?
Yes. Once an instrument is recorded it is a permanent public record.
How far back do your records go?
Our first recorded deed was filed on September 20, 1870, in which Amos A. Lawrence purchased real estate from the United States Government, and the deed was signed on behalf of President Andrew Johnson.
What is the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)?
The Uniform Commercial Code, more commonly known as UCC, became effective in Kansas in 1966. The filing of a UCC is what perfects or secures the loan on consumer goods or fixtures. Per Kansas statute, state and federal tax liens, mechanic’s liens (on personal property), and other types of liens are filed under the UCC.
What is eRecording?
E-Recording, or electronic document recording, is a method of delivering documents electronically from a business to the Register of Deeds office. The process is similar to traditional recording methods except documents are submitted without leaving your office, and recorded documents are returned electronically immediately after recording.
What is microfilm?
Microfilming, or micro-photography, is the gold standard of archival preservation. All recorded instruments are preserved on microfilms that can be accessed by members of the public during normal business hours. Newer microfilms can contain up to 8,500 images and accommodate several days of recordings.
We recently paid off the mortgage on our home. When will we get a new deed showing that we no longer owe the bank anything?
When your deed is recorded, it receives a unique instrument number and a label containing the official recording information.
Unlike vehicle registrations, a separate title is not issued because the deed acts as the title.
If you recorded the deed in our office, you would have received the recorded original deed in the mail or over the counter.
If you recorded the deed via a title company, lender, or attorney, and have not received your recorded deed from them, please contact them.
I have a mortgage. Does the bank technically own my home?
A mortgage is a transaction between you and a lender and it does not change legal ownership of the real estate.
After you have paid your mortgage, your bank sends us a document called a “satisfaction/release/discharge of mortgage” (they may call it a payoff letter) which we record and return to the bank.
If you need a record of your mortgage satisfaction, contact us for a complimentary copy.