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Recorder of Deeds Info Now Available Online

June 29, 2006 – Members of the real estate industry, historians and people simply interested in real estate transactions may access V.I. information filed with the Recorder of Deeds office from the comfort of their own computer starting July 1.
The lieutenant governor's office this week unveiled its new Landata e-STAR Plus system that makes property data available around the clock.
"This will eliminate the wait time for manual searches in our office and increase customer service and efficiency," Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards said in a news release.
He said the online information will also allow law enforcement agencies to search for hidden assets.
Richards said that the new system will enable his department to preserve records. He said there are now digital copies of all documents.
"If all paper were destroyed, we could re-create it instantly. We also have a copy stored off island every night," he said.
Management Information Systems Director Kelly Harrigan said that the office plans to expand the information available beyond what's filed in the Recorder of Deeds office. She said that the office is currently testing data from Corporations and Trademarks. She also said that plans to include the Uniform Commercial Code are in the works. Additionally, the department plans to digitize old Cadastral office property maps.
She said that property tax information is available online at the lieutenant governor's Web site.
Harrigan said that it took three and a half years to pull together the Recorder of Deeds information for the Web site. "It's been a struggle," she said.
She said that in addition to scanning in the records, the system also enables staff members to connect with each other online. She said the staff is spread out at seven different locations, so this provided a big improvement in communication.
Data filed between Sept. 1, 1999, and a few days ago is available by searching the Land Records file by name, document number, document type/date, estate, or condo.
Celeste Lawrence, spokeswoman at the lieutenant governor's office, said Thursday that there will be a day or two lag while the date is scanned in and sent for posting.
However, people who want information that was filed before Sept. 1, 1999, will have to call the Recorder of Deeds office for the book and page number. No one answered the phone during several attempts to reach the office Thursday, but Harrigan said that it appears to be a phone line problem because the staff is at work.
For older data, click on the Historical Images tab. The Web site indicates this is still a work in progress.
Data is filed according to region: St. Croix or St. Thomas, which includes St. John records. Previously, St. John residents had to go to the Recorder of Deeds office on St. Thomas for property information.
The system requires free registration.
There's no charge for casual browsers to look at the index, but they'll pay $2 a page to view the document, with payment by credit card.
Annual subscriptions are available for $750 a year, which gives the subscriber unlimited viewing of the index, the documents themselves and printing. Annual subscribers must go to the Recorder of Deeds office to pay by cash, check or credit card.
Master accounts, which allow additional employees to access the account, are available for an additional $25 a month per person.
Monthly subscriptions at $75 a month are available, which gets subscribers unlimited viewing of the index and a $1 price tag on viewing the documents and printing. Payment can be made by credit card.
St. John Realtor Diana Beam at Re/Max Island Paradise Realty said she was unfamiliar with the new Web site but took a quick look while on the telephone. "I'll have to see if it works," she said.
She called back to say that the Web site looks interesting.
Beam said she found it useful to be able to find out if property owners have liens filed against them. She said in order to sell property, the title must be clear.
"And not everybody knows if somebody's filed a lien against them," she said.
She said she currently uses tax rolls and a report of real estate transactions issued quarterly by a St. Thomas firm to find some information.
Beam said she uses the information to find parcel numbers when a client knows only the name. "Or if I'm trying to find who owns a piece of property," she said.
To access this Web site, click here. It's also accessible through the lieutenant governor's Web site by clicking on the Recorder of Deeds tab listed under My Responsibilities.
Call the Recorder of Deeds office on St. Thomas at 774-9906 or on St. Croix, at 773-6449.

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