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).

What is the procedure for recording a deed? 

After the deed is drawn, properly notarized and meets our recording standards, it may be recorded. 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. The grantee's mailing address must appear on the first page as well as the name of the individual or entity who prepared the instrument, this is commonly referred to as a "Prepared by and Return to" person or entity.

Excise Tax Valuation:

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

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 the top of the first page and 1/2 inch blank margin on remaining sides of first page and on all sides of subsequent pages
  3. Black type on white paper in a legible font. Font size no smaller than 9 points. (Blanks in an instrument may be completed in black pen and corrections to an instrument may be made in black pen)
  4. Typed or printed text on only one side of each page
  5. State type of instrument at the top of the first page below the 3 inch margin

If an instrument does not meet the recording standards, the Register of Deeds shall record 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 9 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.

Can I prepare my own deed? 

We recommend using an attorney to draw up a deed. However, you may draft your own deed and we will record the deed if it meets our recording standards and has been notarized properly.

What if I lose my deed? 

Once a deed is recorded, the attorney or person who submitted it should return the original deed to the new owner (grantee) who will hopefully deposit it in a safe place with his or her important papers. If your deed is lost, and the original was recorded, a plain copy may be obtained or a certified copy with our official seal.

Does a deed have to be recorded? 

North Carolina is a “race to record state.” This means that the first person or entity to record the deed is the true and lawful owner of the property. After a property transaction, a deed should be recorded as promptly as possible.

Can a map of the property be attached to my Deed?

Yes. If it is an original, it must be reviewed by a Johnston County Map Review Officer and signed. It must measure 8.5" x 14" or 8.5" x 11". If a drawing or copy of a map is attached, it must contain the Map Legend language which states from G.S. 47-30 (n)(2): "THIS MAP MAY NOT BE A CERTIFIED SURVEY AND HAS NOT BEEN REVIEWED BY A LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY FOR COMPLIANCE WITH ANY APPLICABLE LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS AND HAS NOT BEEN REVIEWED FOR COMPLIANCE WITH RECORDING REQUIREMENTS FOR PLATS."

What is the procedure for recording a deed of trust/mortgage?

The Deed of Trust or Mortgage must be titled as such, meet our recording standards, have a Prepared by person or entity’s name on the first page and be notarized properly. Then it may be submitted to us for recording. The recording fee is $64.00 for the first 35 pages and $4.00 for each additional page.

How do I obtain a copy of my deed, deed of trust, or other land records?

You may go to our website at and print out the copies you need, or you may stop by our office in person to obtain copies. You may also mail a request in writing of the book and page numbers of the document(s) you need along with a check or money order and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return. It is 10 cents per page for a plain copy and $5 for the first page and $2 for each additional page for a certified copy. In addition, we can email documents as plain copies for no extra charge.

Can the Register of Deeds tell me who owns property at a specific address?

We search our records by name. You may contact the Johnston County Tax Dept at 919-989-5130 if you only have an address to search by.

Can anyone access the information contained in the Register of Deeds office?

Yes. Real Estate information in the Register of Deeds office is public record.

What happens to a document when it is submitted to the Register of Deeds Office?

It is examined for meeting our recording requirements and the correct fee is obtained. Recording information which includes the County, State, Registrar name & title, date, time, a book and page number(s), an instrument number, excise tax amt if any, and the name of the recorder is assigned to each document at the top of the first page. Documents are recorded according to the order as presented. Documents are immediately returned to the submitter once it has been indexed and completed.

What is an index?

An index is the system by which real estate documents can be located after recording. We have indexes for both grantor and grantee. When a document is recorded, it is immediately indexed and then entered into the permanent index as soon as possible. According to NC G.S.161-14(a) a document must be filed in the permanent index within 30 days.

What if I have a question or need documents prepared?

Due to liability reasons, our office is unable to answer legal questions regarding documents recorded or to be recorded. We also do not prepare documents. We advise you to seek an attorney for legal advice or drawing up a document.

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 Johnston County Clerk of Superior Court at 919-209-5400.

Can the Register of Deeds Office advise if I have good and clear title?

No. You will need to seek the help of an attorney for advice about your title.

Can the Register of Deeds Office tell me the selling price of a piece of property?

No. You should contact a Realtor for assistance.

How do I add or remove a name to my property?

You will need to have a new document drawn up to make any changes to a previously recorded document. We advise you to seek an attorney for assistance.

Page last updated: December 18, 2023