Property deeds must go through several steps

Published 1:28 pm Saturday, April 6, 2019

Dear Lawyer Mark: I am wanting to buy a few acres from my neighbor, and he said he would sell it to me if I took care of all the paperwork.
I know that a person needs a deed for property, but can he just write it down himself and give it to me?
Is there anything else I need to do to make sure it gets in my name.
— Curious in Kitts Hill
Dear Curious: Generally, a person can prepare his own deed, so long as it complies with law.
The deed has to set forth who the parties are, a legal description of the property and the type of deed (whether the seller is giving any warranties with the property). It must be signed by the owners of the property and any spouses in front of a notary.
In your case, if he is selling you only a portion of the acreage he has, you will also need to have a surveyor prepare a new legal description to split it off from the larger tract, as well as a new survey map.
The surveyor will also prepare a “Division of Valuation” form that you must file with the auditor to correctly divide the property tax valuation between the different acreage that is being split. Whether you need a new split and survey or not, the next procedures apply to all property transfers.
After you have received the notarized deed, it must be taken to county engineer’s office at the courthouse.
The engineer has to approve the legal description before any other steps are taken, and if it is approved, he will put a stamp on the deed and sign a cover sheet.
After that, the deed has to be taken to the county auditor’s office, along with a conveyance form. In most instances, the seller of real estate in Ohio must pay a “conveyance fee” to sell real estate. The auditor collects that fee of $4 for each $1,000 of value of the property. In other words, if your neighbor sold you the acreage for $5,000, he would have to pay them $20.
If the seller is not required to pay the fee under Ohio law, such as the property was a gift from a parent to child instead of a sale, a different “exemption form” must be filled out and given to the auditor.
After the auditor has collected the conveyance fee or approved the exemption, you will need to pay him 50 cents for each tax parcel number on the deed. He then will also put a stamp on the deed and fill out the cover sheet.
Only after all that can you take the deed to the county recorder’s office. If the deed is in their approved format, you need to pay them $28 for the first two pages of the deed, plus $8 for each page thereafter.
If it is not in the correct format (you didn’t leave enough space in the margins, for instance), then there is an additional “Non-Standard Document Fee” of $20.
After payment of those fees, the recorder will scan your deed and record it into her official records, serving as proof that you own the property.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Ave., Ironton, OH 45638, or email him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.

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