Land Record Information

What is a deed?
A deed is an instrument by which an interest in real property is transferred from a grantor (a person or entity who conveys real estate) to a grantee (a person or entity to whom real estate is conveyed) upon delivery of the writing to the grantee.

What is the procedure for recording a deed? 
See an attorney. After the deed is drawn and properly notarized, it may be presented for recordation. The fee is $26.00 for the first 15 pages and $4.00 for each additional page thereafter. Excise tax stamps are based on $2.00 per $1,000 value of the purchase price. Also, the grantee's mailing address must appear on the first page as well as the name of the individual or firm who prepared the instrument, this commonly referred to as a "Prepared By and Return To".

Excise Tax Valuation:

Prior to 1968 $1.10 per $1000 - $.55 per $500
Jan.1, 1968 - July 31, 1991 $1.00 per $1000 - $.50 per $500
Aug. 1, 1991 - Current $2.00 per $1000 - $1.00 per $500

Can I prepare my own deed?
You may draft your own deed and we will record the deed if it is in due form (that is, all parties named have properly signed and the deed has been acknowledged by a notary public). However, should you decide not to have an attorney do a title search, and you proceed to acquire a loan at a financial institution, your loan may be refused because of the lack of a title search.

What are the standards for recording?

North Carolina recording standards changed July 1, 2002.  Documents recorded after July 1, 2002, must meet GS 161-14(b) as follows:

1. Be 8 1/2 x 11 or 8 1/2 x 14

2. Have a 3 inch blank margin at top of first page and 1/2 inch blank margin on remaining sides of first page and on all sided of subsequent pages.

3. Black type on white paper.

4. Font size no smaller than 10 points (blank in an instrument may be completed in pen and correction to an instrument may be made in pen.)

5. Only one-sided typed or printed text.

6. Type of instrument at top of first page below blank margin.

If instrument does not meet requirement outline above, Register of Deeds shall register the instrument after collecting a $25.00 fee for non-standard documents as required by GS 161-10(a)(19). If an instrument fails to meet the requirement of font size (less than 10 points), but is determined by the Registrar that the instrument is legible, the register of Deeds may record without collecting the non-standard fee charge.

What if I lose my deed? 
The primary evidence of ownership of land is not so much the deed itself as it is the recording of the deed. Once recorded, the original deed is returned to the new owner who usually deposits it in a safe place with his or her important papers. If your deed is misplaced or lost, and the original was recorded, a copy may be obtained and certified with the official stamp or seal of the office.

Does a deed have to be recorded? 
A deed should be recorded as promptly after the transaction as possible. Although there is no time limit on recording deeds, except deeds of gift, failure to record a deed could render the transfer or mortgaging of the property impossible and create numerous legal difficulties.

What is the procedure for recording a deed of trust/mortgage?
See an attorney. After the document is drawn and properly notarized, present the instrument to the Register of Deeds with the proper recording fees. The recording fee is $64.00 for the first 35 pages and $4.00 for each additional page thereafter.

Can a map of the property be attached to my Deed?
Yes, as long as it has been reviewed by one of Johnston County's Map Review Officers and then signed. It must measure 8.5" x 14" or 8.5" x 11".

How do I obtain a copy of my deed, deed of trust, or other land records?
You may stop by the Register of Deeds office to obtain a copy for .10 per page. You need to know the name the property is in (if in doubt, contact the Tax Department), and the year it was purchased or recorded. For a deed of trust, you need to know the Grantor and year of recording. Certified copies are $5.00 for the first page and a $2.00 for each additional page. If you know the Book and Page of the documents, you may request the instruments by mail. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a minimum processing fee of $1.00 for mail requests.  We also have the capability to email documents for no additional charge.

Does the office fax a copy of a recorded document to other agents?
Yes. Effective October 1, 2000, the fees for faxing are $1.00 for our cover page and $1.00 for each additional page. We prefer that agents make requests by mail and provide the book and page number(s) of the requested document(s). Mailed copies are $1.00 per page. Also, please provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE). This insures that the documents are returned to your desired location.

Can the Register of Deeds tell me who owns property at a specific address?
Contact the Tax Department at the Johnston County Courthouse, Smithfield, NC 27577.

Can anyone access the information contained in the Register of Deeds office?
Yes. Information in the Register of Deeds office is public record.

What happens to a document when it is brought to the Register of Deeds Office?
There are a number of steps involved to process documents brought in or mailed in to be recorded. Prior to returning such documents, they must first be evaluated for recordability and the correct fee obtained. A document number, together with a book and page, is assigned to each document. Documents are recorded according to the same order as presented for recordation. Documents are indexed, scanned, and returned to the owner or designated person.

What is an index?
An index is the system by which records of documents affecting title to land can be located after recording. The Register of Deeds Office has indexes for both grantor and grantee, and debtor for UCC filings. These are found in the vault and are clearly marked as to the dates covered. The paper indexes found in our office are the "official record."

What if I have a question or need documents prepared?
Due to liability reasons, our office is unable to answer certain questions over the telephone or in person. We have established a help desk located in our vault area. A trained professional will direct you to the proper location in our office or in other governmental agencies where you may obtain the information you desire. We are unable to give legal advice; therefore, you should direct your legal questions to an attorney. The Register of Deeds Office is a recording agency and the information given out is limited. Consequently, we cannot prepare deeds or other documents.

Where do I record my deed, deed of trust or other instrument conveying or encumbering real property?
It must be registered in the county where the land lies. If the property lies in more than one county, the instrument must be registered in every county in which a part of the property lies.

How do I find out about outstanding liens (mechanics liens) and judgments?
Contact the Clerk of Superior Court at the Johnston County Courthouse.

Can the Register of Deeds Office advise if I have good and clear title?
No. Attorneys, professional title examiners or abstractors utilize the records in our office and those of other offices to determine if the title is free and clear of encumbrances.

Can the Register of Deeds Office tell me the selling price of a piece of property?
No. You should contact a Realtor.

How do I add or remove a name to my property? 
Contact an attorney.

Can I request information by mail?
When requesting information by mail, please include the following:

1. Your name, mailing address, daytime phone number, signature and state driver's license number. 
2. Include all available information regarding the requested document(s) such as: 
• Book and Page numbers 
• Dates of birth, death, recording, etc. 
• Names appearing on the document (i.e., parents, borrowers, trustee, beneficiary, etc.)


Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm


Marriage Licenses (By appointment only)
Appointment Times:
Monday-Friday: 8am-4:30pm

Vital Records Phone #

Real Estate Phone #

Passports (By appointment only)
Appointment Times:
Monday-Friday: 8:30am-4pm
We are located at:
207 East Johnston St. Suite 209
Smithfield, NC 27577