ROD News & Department Highlights

Land Recording Fees to change as of Oct. 1, 2016

Oct. 1, 2016, recording fees for all documents recorded in the Register of Deeds office will be $30.00 regardless of the number of pages.  The only exception will be if the document assigns or discharges more than one instrument; the $3.00 fee for each instrument after the first reference remains.

The Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds and the Michigan Land Title Association in cooperation with Michigan Bankers Association, Credit Unions, the State Bar of Michigan – Real Property Law Section, Michigan Association of Treasurers, Michigan Oil and Gas Association, and State and Federal lien holders worked for over a year to bring the flat fee concept to fruition.

“With new consumer protection regulations instituted in late 2015, it was practical to create a flat fee, thereby eliminating one of the most common reasons for rejecting a document,” said Emmet County Register of Deeds Michele Cooke.  “The flat fee should create a more smooth land title closing which benefits our constituents and our economy.”

“This was a major collaboration of groups and associations,” Cooke added. “The cooperation and willingness to listen and negotiate was instrumental in attaining the flat fee which will be impactful for our constituents.”

“Michigan, again, uses common sense to see an issue and create a solution and is the only state to have a true flat fee,” she said.

It took 9 bills (SB 599, SB 600, SB 601, SB 602, SB 603, SB 604, SB 737; HB 5164 and HB 5165) to create the uniform fee. The language in the main bill, regarding MCL 600.2567, is inclusive of the Remonumentation fee as well as the automation fund fee, in this way, the average person is able to see in one statute what it costs to record a land document.  These bills are now Public Acts 224 through 232 of 2016.

Senators Darwin Booher, District 35; Curtis Hertel, District 23; Peter MacGregor, District 28; and Dale Zorn, District 17; sponsored 7 of the 9 bills needed to create the flat fee legislation with Representatives Lee Chatfield, District 107 and Jeremy Moss, District 35 sponsoring the two House bills.

Emmet County Register of Deeds receives national accolades, continues to lead in digital land records management

Michelle Stein

Michele Cooke, the Emmet County Register of Deeds

Michele Cooke, the Emmet County Register of Deeds, has been sworn in as a Director to the Board of the National Association of County Recorders, Elections and Clerks (NACRC) for 2015-16. She was selected from among more than 500 members across the country.

“This is an awesome opportunity to share at the National level my past 27+ years of experience as the Land Records Manager for Emmet County. I am joined by some of the country’s brightest and best in the public land record arena,” said Cooke. “In this day of growing technology and cyber-fraud, it is my goal to forge new and effective processes for the proper management of our most valuable asset – private land ownership.”

Another important task of the new Board will be to finalize its merger with the International Association of Clerks, Records, Election Officials and Treasurers (IAECREOT) to form a stronger, more efficient Association; the merger should be effective as of Oct. 1, 2015. Our mission is to “exchange ideas, elevate standards through education, develop efficient ways to serve the public and promote the ethics of public service, while developing contacts in furtherance of our profession,” Cooke said.

Cooke was first elected as Register of Deeds in 2005, after having served for 16 years as the Chief Deputy. She is now serving her third elected term in office. Michele has been responsible for upgrading all the electronic components for the future preservation of the land records in her office. She was the 2013 recipient of the Tyler Technologies Excellence Award.

Cooke was installed as a Director at the 2015 NACRC Annual Conference held from August 21-24, 2015, in Houston, Texas.

About the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC) – NACRC is a national association of elected and appointed county administrative officials. The association has approximately 500 members consisting of elected and appointed county, parish and town officials and their staffs, as well as private companies providing their offices with products and services. NACRC is managed by IMI Association Executives, a Morrisville-based association management firm.

Register of Deeds Michele Cooke receives Certified County Officer recognition

United County Officers Association holds annual legislative conference in Lansing

The United County Officers Association (UCOA) recently held its Annual Legislative Conference at the Crown Plaza Convention Center in Lansing. County Registers, Clerks, Treasurers, and Surveyors representing 43 of Michigan’s 83 counties were in attendance for the three-day annual legislative conference.

Some of the topics presented were: Elder Law by Ron Tatro; New FOIA requirements and Open Meetings Act by Bonnie Toskey of Cohl, Stolker & Toskey, P.C.; an update by the Michigan Registered Land Surveyors about new recording requirements on Remonumentation and recording Land Corner Recordation Certificates by Jim Granger; Technology update on the role of e-recording in the 21st century by Michelle Wilsey; and a legislative update from Bill Zaagman. State Legislators were invited to the conference for county officials to share how legislation impacts citizens served by county government.

The 2015 UCOA Officers were installed at the conference for a 2 year term. They are President Tim Snow, Kalamazoo Register/Clerk; First Vice President Karen Hahn- Mecosta Register; 2nd Vice President Michelle Stevenson- Roscommon Register/Clerk; Treasurer Karen Jackson-Isabella Register; Secretary Terry Kubasiak-Branch County Clerk; and Immediate Past President Sheila Gowell-Oceana Treasurer.  Michele Cooke, Emmet County Register of Deeds, was appointed Legislative Chairperson.

Recipients of the Certified County Officer Award were recognized: JoAnn DeGraaf-Kalkaska Register, Karen Hahn-Mecosta Register, Deborah Hill-Kalkaska Clerk, Sandra Moore-Crawford Register/Clerk, Michele Stine Cooke-Emmet Register, and Kathy Haiker-Ottawa Deputy Register.   To achieve this certification, county officers must perform a rigorous study program of 100 hours. Cooke is also enrolled in the National Certification Program.

The conference was completed with a Round Table Discussion regarding best practices and challenges facing Michigan counties today.

Pictured with Cooke (far right) are Sandy Moore, Crawford County; Deborah Hill, Kalkaska Clerk; JoAnn DeGraaf-Kalkaska Register, and Karen Hahn-Mecosta Register.

100 years of RODs; Michele Cooke named state board president

Emmet County Register of Deeds Michele Cooke (right) and Chief Deputy ROD Karen Cosens, pictured in the vault where the ROD records are stored.

(September 2014)

It’s a special year for the Emmet County Register of Deeds office, and also for RODs around the country.

The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Registers of Deeds by the United States Government, which in 1914 mandated formation of RODs in the Constitution.

Registers of Deeds are responsible for keeping the official land records for all counties (and some municipalities/various jurisdictions) throughout the United States.

Emmet County’s ROD is Michele Cooke (formerly Stine), who has served in this elected position for 8 years.

“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Cooke, quoting U.S. President Warren Harding. “I stand strong in guaranteeing this right and will do all I can to uphold it.”

In addition to celebrating this national ROD milestone, Cooke has achieved her own milestone this year. She is the incoming President of the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds (MARD). She recently received the president’s gavel at the Sept. 8 annual meeting of the board in Traverse City.

She has served on the MARD board in various officer positions for five years. She will officially take over the President role in January 2015.

“I’m very proud to be part of the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds and I’m also proud that my colleagues around the state have the confidence in me to lead this group,” said Cooke.

Cooke also serves on various MARD committees, including the group’s legislative and audit committees. She was also pleased to note that the group’s annual fall conference in September 2015 will take place in Petoskey, at the Perry Hotel downtown. The group includes representatives from nearly all of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Cooke’s Deputy Register of Deeds, Karen Cosens, noted this is the first time in MARD’s history that an ROD from the northern tier of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula has served in the president capacity. “Michele is always at the front of the pack when it comes to providing Emmet County residents with technology and services,” Cosens noted. “We were one of the first counties in Michigan to offer electronic recording, as well as ‘Fraud Guard.’ We’ll soon have the ability to produce a new product called a Document Extract. We will be able to go all the way back to an original land patent, for instance, with this program.

“Michele has been the leader behind these types of examples for Emmet County.”

Emmet County’s first ROD was A.J. Blackbird, who served two terms in the position.  Cooke, who is the 28th Register of Deeds for Emmet County, won the position by election in 2005, after working in the department for 20 years prior. The ROD is up for election every four years, and it’s an important position within county government.

Each year, more than 11,000 documents are processed through the EC ROD office. Those who rely on the services include attorneys, title companies, banks and the general public who file their land records and transactions with the office.

History buffs, too, like to peruse the files and get a glimpse into the area’s land-use past, Cosens added. “The number of people coming into our office probably averages between 2,000 and 3,000 people a year,” she said.

Records are stored in a vault room that is open to the public weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, electronic records are available on the ROD page of the County web site,

Among the unique finds in the vault are early plat maps of the cities of Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

“We have files that contain almost all the land records for county owned properties as well, such as McGulpin Point Lighthouse, so we can show who owned what when and provide an ownership trail,” Cosens said. “People are often interested in that kind of historical information.”

One-hundred years ago, all those files were written by hand, Cosens added. Today, documents from roughly 1855 are all digitized and electronically stored. Online searches are free – another service provided to the public by the Emmet County Register of Deeds office.

“Our staff works very hard to provide the public with this valuable information, and we take very seriously our role as the keepers of Emmet County’s land-records history,” Cooke concluded.

E-recording available!

The ROD office is offering electronic filing, eliminating the need for paper recording of documents.

ROD Michele Cooke said members of the public who need to file deeds, mortgages, liens and discharges of mortgages can now send them through a secured electronic connection to the office.

This system will also allow for corrections to be made back-and-forth within minutes, eliminating time- and paper-consuming mailings.

Managing the e-recording for the county are two companies, Simplifile and Ingeo. Users can contact the companies, who will guide them through the e-recording process.

To use Simplifile, click here.

To use Ingeo, click here.  (Now also known as, CSC)

To use EPN, click here.

Both companies charge fees for the services ranging from $3.50 to $5 per document. Call the ROD office at (231) 348-1761 with any questions.

Register of Deeds Michele Stine featured for innovative integration

Article from Tyler Technologies (January 2013)

The Efficiency of Integration Michele Stine, Register of Deeds for Emmet County, Michigan, knows firsthand how important technology is for public sector employees. It was only a year ago that she had turned to her ongoing partnership with Tyler Technologies to implement their Eagle eRecording software as a way to streamline workflow.

Tyler delivered and Stine’s office enjoyed a surge in productivity and efficiency. So when she noticed how much legwork was still being done at the County Treasurer’s office, she was confident that Tyler would again be able to provide an innovative solution.

“We had been using eRecording for a while so we knew the difference it made. But the
treasurer’s office was still having to do so much manual work,” Stine said. “I thought: ‘why can’t we apply eRecording to the treasurer’s office down the hall so we can both integrate and ultimately save taxpayer money?’”

Stine’s idea would soon prove to be beneficial for both departments. Collaborative efforts
between the register of deeds office, the county treasurer’s office, and Tyler representatives created an integrated work environment between the two departments. Mountains of paperwork were replaced by a shared electronic network of information and documents, allowing each office to operate with a level of cooperation that was both more efficient and cost effective.

Before integration Collaboration and communication between the register of deeds office and the county treasurer’s office is vital to their success. Documents related to property ownership, mortgages and other important forms are created, recorded and transferred between offices to ensure proper filing.

With a population of over 32,000, the paperwork necessary for these tasks quickly became a burden for Emmet County employees.

Paperwork breeds inefficiency Stine estimated that batches of 50 to sometimes 100 files would have to be manually created,double-checked, approved and physically carried between offices. The process took a lot of time and manpower.

“We’re talking 800 to 2,000 documents in some instances. It was incredibly time-consuming and inefficient,” she said. “My goal was to get a plan in place to save time and become more economical with the process.”

Integration a first for Michigan counties Stine knew the task of combining databases and integrating separate offices was a unique undertaking, but she had faith that the team of professionals at Tyler Technologies would be up for the challenge.
“We were very anxious about starting the new process, but everyone on the team at Tyler wasgreat,” Stine said. “Once we had discussed details and were all speaking the same language, the process addressed all our requirements and went smoothly.”

Brock Taylor, Recording Product Manager for Tyler Technologies, said that he believed the integration project Emmet County was undertaking was the first of its kind in Michigan.
“They wanted to integrate the entire county treasurer’s office with their database in order to link records.” Taylor said. “It was the first time anyone had integrated their records with a treasurer’s office in the entire state.”

After Integration
The integration of records between Stine’s Register of Deeds office and the County Treasurer’s office went smoothly and established a new method of recording in Emmet County. Documents are now created, recorded, and exported electronically, thus saving time and money that was originally spent on producing and delivering physical documents.
The project is yielding benefits that neither office initially anticipated. Since paperwork and
manual data entry have been minimized, the accuracy of the documents has increased rapidly. Stine even estimates that the software will aid in eliminating mortgage fraud.

Indexing offers increased access Another unique feature Emmet County has enjoyed since integration is Tyler’s eRecording Indexing Assistant. This feature not only images documents but also archives them based on data found on the actual document, bringing a new level of accessibility to Emmet County employees. Now, identifying and accessing information is as simple as searching for a few keywords. According to Stine, Emmet County’s day-to-day operations are running at a much higher level of efficiency since linking records.
“Everything is so simple, it’s very streamlined. We aren’t using paper and the time and financial savings are remarkable,” she said. “We are so much more efficient in the manner we handle recording. Plus, we are much better at eliminating errors and fraudulent mistakes. Tyler’s eRecording has truly been a benefit in today’s world.”

Do more with less Through the collaborative efforts between Emmet County’s Register of Deeds office, the county treasurer and Tyler representatives, Emmet County now boasts one of the most sophisticated and technologically-advanced offices in the entire state of Michigan. Stine’s small office, consisting of only four members (including herself), now has the capability to handle the workload of a much larger staff.

Stine believes that other public offices should look at Emmet County as an example of what
integration can do for counties of all sizes across the state of Michigan.

“Once other counties hear what we’ve done I hope they’ll jump on board. Money is tight and
staff is limited; these days you’re really asked to do more with less,” Stine said. “Tyler’s eRecording is a forward step with today’s technology. I would encourage any county commissioner to look to Tyler to aid them.”

Emmet County, Michigan • Population of 32,691
• Tyler Client since 2004

Before Integration • Documentation was manually created, recorded, printed and transferred between departments.
Previous method was inefficient, costly, and time-consuming.

After Integration • Streamlined process eliminates need for physical paperwork. Shared database between
departments links all records and allows for instant access to important information.

Stine named to state Register of Deeds association board

(2013) Emmet County Register of Deeds Michele E. Stine has been named to the Michigan Association of Registers of Deed as First Vice President to the Board of Directors for 2014.

The appointment, which began Jan. 1, 2014, is a one-year term. She will begin her first year as President of the ROD organization in January 2015.

While Stine is President, the Association will have its annual conference again at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey.

“Everyone always loves to come up North to Petoskey. I’m thrilled to be hosting the group in our beautiful area in 2015,” Stine said.

New search service available

(2010) The Register of Deeds office is offering a new consumer search service. For a cost of $5, ROD staff will conduct a name search of county records for deeds, mortgages and liens. The fee provides for 15 minutes of search time by staff.

ROD Michele Stine said the service will be helpful to those who are searching for background information on a property or to trace ownership, for instance, or to find any liens on a property. These types of searches are often more time-consuming for users.

Customers will fill out a form with the information they’re seeking. Currently, forms are available through the ROD office; soon they will be available online for downloading and emailing as well. Customers can expect a quick turn-around of the information they’re seeking, Stine added.

For more info, call the office at (231) 348-1761.

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us