There are many strings of numbers involved when it comes to recording documents in county official records -- instrument numbers, book and page numbers -- there's great potential risk for data entry errors. Today, I'm talking about an entry error that may have caused a pretty big headache for a homeowner down the road.

We had a Payoff Tracking file in Santa Rosa County, Fla., a few weeks back that was pretty much like every other. We were checking to ensure that a satisfaction was recorded for the seller’s mortgage that was paid off at closing. We usually know there is an issue when we find nothing and realize something went wrong, but we were able to track down the mortgage release. In this instance, everything appeared to have been done correctly, the mortgage was paid off at closing, the funds had been sent, and the release had been filed.

However, we soon noticed something was off, because a few numbers didn't match up. If you're familiar with this process, you'll know that the release should have information about the original recorded mortgage, including the instrument number and the book and page where the mortgage can be found. Except both of those numbers were incorrect. The release was referencing a book and page that didn't even exist in the county records. Someone had miskeyed the same numbers for both the instrument, as well as the book and page numbers. Who knows where the mistake occurred, but we're glad it was caught before it turned into an issue down the road.

In this case, the mix-up may have caused some confusion or the need for curative work down the line. A simple data entry error may have turned into an upsetting ordeal. What makes this a success story is that we resolved this issue with very little involvement from the title agent and it was a relatively easy fix, because it was caught immediately, instead of many years later.

The moral to this story is that even when everything is done correctly on your end, it doesn't mean something can't go wrong later. This is why following up is imperative.

Has a prior title agent's lack of follow-up caused you curative headaches with subsequent closings down the road?


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