Why States Should Adopt URPERA

As a result of the enactments of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) in most states, and the Global National Commerce Act (E-sign) at the federal level, it is now possible to have sale contracts, mortgage instruments, and promissory notes memorialized in electronic form with the electronic signatures of the parties involved in the transaction. However, real estate transactions require another step not addressed by UETA or E-sign. Real estate transaction documents must be recorded on public records in order to protect the current interest in the real estate and clarify who owns title to the property.

Real estate records establish a chain of title which is based upon the originality and authenticity of the paper documents presented for recording. There must be an orderly conversion of recording offices in the United States for implementation of an electronic recording system. The essential starting point for this monumental process is the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA), promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2004.

Why should a state adopt URPERA?

URPERA does three simple things designed to have far-reaching effects:

  • Equates electronic documents and electronic signatures to original paper documents and manual signatures, so that any requirement for originality (paper document or manual signature) is satisfied by an electronic document and signature.
  • Establishes what standards a recording office must follow and what it must do to make electronic recording effective.
  • Establishes a board to set statewide standards and requires it to set uniform standards that must be implemented in every recording office.

URPERA modernizes real property law for the 21st Century. It is designed to help state administrative agencies meet the demands of the public for quick identification of title ownership. It should also streamline the real estate transaction at a benefit to consumers and every facet of the real estate industry. URPERA is an essential compliment to those states that have already adopted UETA, acting as an extension of that law’s effectiveness.

The basic goal of the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act is to create legislation authorizing land records officials to begin accepting records in electronic form, storing electronic records, and setting up systems for searching for and retrieving these land records. The intent is only to authorize such activities, not to mandate them. It should be adopted in every state.