Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday – Land Records Offices' Rhythms and Seasons

To everything there is a season…how true, even in a land records office. If you research a little about the real estate market in the location where your ancestors lived, you will accomplish more in a shorter time when searching for their deeds.

Generally, few closings take place in the early morning. Lawyers and title examiners check their offices and review necessary paperwork. Sellers put the last touches on the property so it is ‘broom clean.’ Buyers go to the bank to secure a cashier’s check and do a final inspection of the property. Then everyone meets at the closing site sometime after 10:00 a.m.
The land records office or registry of deeds opens an hour or two earlier.  The personnel always have work to do but have more time in the early morning to answer questions from you, the genealogist and local historian. One caveat is that during a period when a lot of people are refinancing their mortgages to take advantage of lower rates, closings may happen earlier in the day because there are no final inspections to delay the closing times.

Weeks at a registry also have a rhythm. Many people close towards the end of the week, take Friday off and move over the ‘long weekend’ that they have created. If you are going to an area for a family reunion and some research, plan to attend the reunion on the weekend and drop by the land records office on Monday instead of Friday.
For financial reasons, people buying property with a mortgage need to close near the end of the month. The registry needs to catch up filing the paperwork during the first week of the month. You will get much more attention if you can visit or call the office during the second or third week of the month.

Every market area has seasonality. A suburban enclave where schools are important to young families and in college towns that adhere to an academic calendar, everyone wants to close on their new house by Labor Day. A beach resort has a lot of closings before the Fourth of July.  Determine when the local market is busy and avoid contacting or visiting a registry during those months.
Whether you are visiting in person, or calling or emailing about a problem encountered using the website, respect the rhythms and seasons, and you and the Registrar of Deeds will be less frustrated.


  1. Outstanding information! I will be able to put it to good use during my research trip next month

  2. Great details to keep in mind when looking for deeds. Thanks for sharing.