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History of the Office

The first Constitution of the State of Michigan adopted by Congress of the United States in 1836 established the Office of Register of Deeds. The Register of Deeds is the official recording officer for all legal papers and instruments pertaining to the transfer and encumbrance of lands and properties within the County. The Register of Deeds also serves as Chairman of the County Plat Board.

The Office of Register of Deeds is the place where people record documents relating to land transactions. Different types of deeds as well as land contracts, mortgages, liens and lease agreements are recorded at the Office of Register of Deeds.

The work of the Office of Register of Deeds does not end after a document is recorded. After the document is copied or imaged, certain important information contained on the document, such as the legal description and the name of the buyer and seller, is indexed on a computer system so that the public can easily review information regarding the ownership history of a particular property. As a matter of fact, the Office of Wayne County Register of Deeds was the first office to create a "Tract Index", which allows people to search land transactions or the history of property ownership with only an address or property description. The Office of Wayne County Register of Deeds maintains an index of land transactions in Wayne County dating back to 1703, and has copies of more than 50 million document pages.

Historically, land transactions were recorded and indexed by hand in large books. Since 1986, technology has been used to enhance efficiencies to record and index documents. Individuals are able to search, view and print a recorded document from a computer anywhere anytime.