Mortgage release is on court's site
In November 2004, I paid off the mortgage on our house but still have not received the "release of mortgage." I called the Bureau of Conveyances last month to find out why and was told that the release was recorded in January, but it's taking a long time to process because it's in Land Court. Why does it takes so long, and how much longer do I have to wait?
Answer: The good news is that your "release of mortgage" was recorded and posted on the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Web site -- www.hawaii.gov/dlnr -- in a timely manner.
So, "it's official," said DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward. "The Land Court requires a certification process, but it does not take away from the validity of the recorded instrument. ... The time to record is not delayed."
Carl Watanabe, registrar for the Bureau of Conveyances, acknowledged there is a sense of security in having a "hard copy" in hand. But he also emphasized that once a document is posted on the Web site, it becomes a matter of official public record.
The bad news is that the certification process has been taking about a year. Why so long?
Watanabe pointed to a significant increase in the number of documents requiring processing -- consider the healthy economy and active real estate market -- without an increase in staff to handle the additional workload as reasons for the delay.
He explained that there are two systems of recording in the state handled by the bureau: "regular" and Land Court.
Your certification process is in Land Court, where it takes time "to ensure that a document does what it is supposed to do" because a state guarantee is involved, he said.
The Land Court recorded an average of 45 percent more documents the past three years -- 2003, 2004 and 2005 -- over 2000, 2001 and 2002.
According to bureau records, the total number of "regular" and Land Court documents received during three previous fiscal years combined (July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2005) was 1,343,215.
By comparison, from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2002, the number was 882,200.
From July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005, the total number of documents received was 425,866; July 1, 2003-June 30, 2004, 476,320; and from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003, 391,029.
The total number of documents received from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002, was 326,054; July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001, 281,194; and from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2000, 274,952.
The major increases, Watanabe said, occurred in Land Court. Of the total number of documents received in fiscal year 2000, the Land Court received 80,976. By comparison, the Land Court received 163,963 documents in fiscal year 2005 -- double the number.
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