How to Get a Property Deed in Philadelphia

Maybe you’re about to sell your house, or maybe you’ve inherited that beloved uncle’s family seaside cottage. But, before you do anything, you’ll need the deed to the house.

Without a deed in your name, you have no real legal right or ownership to the house. — including when property is inherited or sold to someone else. When you have a deed in your name, you can sell the home, apply for mortgages, home repair programs, and equity loans, and be eligible for government programs, including real estate tax breaks and service assistance. public.

According to James Leonard, city records commissioner and real estate attorney, owners should ensure that the deed is registered in their name with the Archives Department.

“For programs related to your ownership, people will generally want to see proof of ownership,” Leonard said. “In Philadelphia, it’s a real problem, because now we know from a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts that we have over 10,000 properties whose deed is not in the name of the heir.

This is called a tangled title. This means that you live in a property that you “own” or have the right to own, but your name is not on the deed. In most cases, this situation occurs when the person named on the deed dies and the deed is not transferred to a living family member.

Leonard advises that when a deed needs to be registered or transferred to someone else – it must be prepared by a lawyer, title agent or real estate professional. However, obtaining a copy or finding one in the public archives is a straightforward process.

Key points to remember

Before you start:
During the process:
  • If you are looking for an act in the public archives, you can do it yourself.
  • If you are requesting a copy of the deed, you can do it yourself.
  • If you need to register a deed for a house or transfer the deed to someone else — you should contact a lawyer, title company or real estate professional to prepare the deed.
  • Contact the archives department if you need help finding legal resources or have questions.

A deed is an official document that states the rightful owner of a property. The deed is registered and stored with the county Archives Department.

Proceedings are generally three to four pages long. A deed clearly shows the address of the property, grantor (the person selling the property), beneficiary (the person buying the property), the date the deed was registered, and other information identification on the property.

Someone. If you have rights to a property, have bought a house or are selling one, you can register deeds at the Department of Records. People in the United States who don’t have citizenship can also use the services of the Department of Records – you don’t need ID or a Social Security number to record a deed.

In addition, the people involved in the deed – such as the new and former owner – do not need to be present for the registration of a deed. According to Leonard, 93% of documents registered with the department are registered online and by third-party entities, such as title companies.

When buying, selling, transferring or updating a deed of ownership, it is the responsibility of the new owner of record this transaction with the Department of Records. Usually a title agent or legal representative will do this on your behalf when you finish buying or transferring a home.

Keep in mind that even when you make changes to a deed or transfer ownership, you must register a new deed.

When registering a deed, it must first be prepared — which, according to Leonard, involves knowing the ins and outs of state law and understanding the technical requirements of registering a deed. It is possible for someone to prepare their own deed, but mistakes made on the documentation could result in the deed not being recorded or containing errors. This can lead to problems later.

Ask a lawyer, title company or real estate professional to prepare a deed to register for you, according to Leonardo.

To transfer a document from a deceased relative, you must first check the will of the deceased person, which is the court-supervised process for finalizing a person’s last will.

Probate of a will is a separate process from the transfer of a deedwhat is happening at register of wills. A deed cannot be transferred from a deceased person until the will has been probated.

There are a few different costs depending on how you register the deed. You can pay by cash, money order and commercial or certified check. Personal checks and credit or debit cards are not accepted.

  • Registration fees: $256.75 total.

  • Real estate sales tax: 4.278% (3.278% of land value to the city, 1% of land value to the state).

  • Legal or real estate assistance: From $0 (if you are eligible for low-cost or free support) to $800 on average but can go up to $2,000 depending on the amount charged by the legal or real estate company.

If you are transferring a document between family members — as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild — you do not have to pay real estate sales tax.

Keep in mind that you need to make three separate payments: for registration fees, tourist tax and state tax.. For registration fees and tourist tax, make money orders and checks payable to “City of Philadelphia”. For state tax, make money orders and checks payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Contact a lawyer, title company or real estate services organization. The Records Department refers individuals to Legal Aid on its website. But you can go to any law firm, title or real estate company that offers legal preparation services.

The person preparing your deed will ask you and the other party for information and documents to include in preparing the deed.

Contact Community Legal Services (CLS), Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA)Where SeniorLAW Center (SLC) to see if you qualify for low-cost or free legal services.

If you need help finding a lawyer, you can use the Philadelphia Bar Association Referral Service.

  • On line — Only licensed businesses such as titles and real estate companies can use these services.

  • In person — You, or the person who prepared your deed, can bring the documents and fees to the records department at City Hall, room 111, 1400, boul. John F Kennedy. Open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Note that you must be in room 111 by 3:30 p.m. for your document to be registered that day.

    • For security reasons, anyone who brings the documents to check in person will be required to show photo ID and have their photo taken. However, it is not mandatory to present identification, it is just a security procedure that the Records Department has to help deter fraud.

  • Mail — You, or the person who prepared your deed, can mail the documents and fees to Department of Records, City Hall Room 111, 1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.

Your deed is then recorded and will be available for consultation within the next four weeks.

Deeds are public recordsanyone can view them or get a copy. The Archives Department has access to archives dating back to 1973, and the Municipal Archives has archives prior to 1973.

You can search and request copies of a deed in person, online, or by mail.

Provide as much of the following as possible:

  • Licensor (the person selling/transferring the property)

  • Beneficiary (the person buying/inheriting the property)

  • Document identification number (for records from 1973 to the present)

If you are looking for an act from 1973 or earlier, you can call the city archives at 215-685-9401, email [email protected], or visit their office at 548 Spring Garden St.

$2 per page for a copy of an act, and an additional $2 per page if you want certified copies. You can find out the exact number of pages of the document you are requesting in advance by calling 215-686-2292 or emailing [email protected]

Pay by cash, money order, commercial or certified check. Make checks and money orders payable to “City of Philadelphia”. Personal checks, credit or debit cards are not accepted. If you overpaidthe Records Department will notify you and send you a form to request a refund of the amount you overpaid.

    • Online (fast, available 24/7)You can request copies of property deeds online using the city service: Philadox. You have to pay for a subscription with a Visa or Mastercard: $15 for a day, $60 for a week, $125 for a month, $750 for a year.

  • In person (same day service)Visit the Archives Department in person at City Hall, Room 154 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • Mail (slowest option) — Mail your request with payment to Department of Records, City Hall, Room 154, 1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. Enclose a stamped envelope with your address and a note with the address of the property for which you are requesting the deed.

Expert sources

  • James LeonardCommissioner, City of Philadelphia Department of Archives
  • Rachel GallegosHomeownership Lawyer and Consumer Rights Unit, Community Legal Services

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