The Association of Title Examiners
Latest News and Information:


Legal:  Decision in Portnoff Law Associates Case

Last week, the Commonwealth Court handed down a decision involving the PLTA and Portnoff Law Associates.  Michelle Portnoff, our guess speaker this month, was kind enough to forward a copy of the Order for posting here.  To read the decision in PDF format click here.

The unanimous decision affirmed the lower court's decision which ruled in favor of the position taken by Fidelity and the PLTA, 

Recording and Technology:  Lancaster County to offer certified copies remotely

The Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds, in yet another first, will soon  implement a system with a third party company to provide certified copies of its records over the Internet.  For more information click here.

Legal:  Stipulated Order in Berks County Recorder of Deeds case

Click here for more details.  A full copy of the Order can be found at the PLTA web site by clicking here.

ATE:  A History of the ATE

Thanks to Terry Frantz, a copy of the 50th anniversary history of the ATE has recently been unearthed and scanned in its entirety.  Some excerpts including some photos have been incorporated into this web site.

Legal:  PLTA has filed suit against Berks County Recorder of Deeds

December 1, 2005

With Lawsuit Against Berks County Recorder, Pennsylvania Land Title Association Moves to End Illegal Recording Practices in Berks County

From the Reading Eagle: "The Pennsylvania Land Title Association has sued Ellie Antoine, Berks County's recorder of deeds, claiming she is violating state law by taking too long to record documents and imposing unreasonable fees."  To read the file Complaint in PDF format, click here.

Future of Title Examination:  New Product makes claim of searches "in less than 1 minute"

A new product called Red Vision appears ready to enter the title search market on a national level.   It appears they have been taking advantage of digitized records to create their own on-line search plants.  They list several counties in PA as being in "Planned Development," but there is no real indication of how long that will take to happen.

Here is the main web site:  Look at the claims at the bottom of this page for search  turn around times.

Here is their list for PA coverage  York County is included in the list for Maryland for some reason.  Of all of the southeast counties, notably Chester and Lancaster are missing.

Web Site:  NALTEA - The National Association of Land Title Examiners and Abstractors

In 2004, a national association of title examiners formed with many of the same goals as our organization.


The group seems to have some pretty good momentum going.  They are currently looking for members and volunteers.  Their 2006 convention will be in Florida in January.

Web Site:  Source of

Source of Title provides a national directory of services including searchers, appraisers, and title agents.

Source of Title -- National Directory of Title Professionals. Need an abstractor? Need a signing agent?

Membership is discounted for NALTEA members.

Recording:  Need a SAT, release or assignment?  Some recorders are putting standard real estate document forms on line.

[NOTE:  You should review these forms to make sure they are correct and that they suit your particular needs before using them.]

Recording:  Philadelphia has raised its fees

Philadelphia has increased its recording fees effective September 12, 2005.  Click here for the new fee schedule in PDF format directly from the web site.  If that link does not work, click here.

Legal:  PA Supreme Court rules that recording without indexing provides sufficient notice of documents

(Decided July 20, 2005)

In a split decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has concluded that if a mortgage is properly recorded but not properly indexed in the Recorder of Deeds office, it still constitutes sufficient constructive notice to prospective purchasers and lenders as to its existence.  The language in the decision implies that the reasoning would extend to any document so recorded and not just mortgages.  To read the decision in PDF format click here.  To read the dissenting opinion click here.

This overturned a previous decision of the Superior Court in the same case which ruled that the extent to which the records in each particular Recorder of Deeds office are computerized would determine whether or not a document needed to be properly indexed in addition to being properly recorded.  For an analysis of this earlier decision click here.

Opinion:  Technology Will Not Make Abstracters Obsolete

In an article on the ALTA web site entitled Technology Will Not Make Abstracters Obsolete,  William Welge writes "The role of the abstracting professional will never be eliminated, according to this case study, but how he or she does the job may indeed change. Are you prepared?"

Technology:  The Mobile Title Office

In an article on the Source of Title web site entitled Instant Delivery of Accurate Information,  David Bloys writes about taking advantage of technology to reduce turn around times.  He even describes how to do everything from your car!

Technology:  Desktop Search Engine reviews

Having difficulty finding old files on your PC?  Do you have backtitle from several different sources in different file formats?  Putting a Desktop Search Engine on your PC can making finding old files as simple as typing in a parcel number or subdivision name and hitting the enter key.  Best of all, most of these programs are free.

Click here for a explanation and review of several available Desktop Search Engines.

Recording:  New Document Standards announced for several PA counties

Several counties now have required document standards most of which became effective January 1, 2005.  They are not however the same in each county, so please check with each county's specific standards before preparing any documents.  If your documents do not conform they may either be rejected or have an additional recording fee added.  Here is a list of counties including any links to document standards guidelines contained on their web sites.

Legal:  PA Commonwealth Court rules that Recorder of Deeds records are not public records under PA Right to Know Act

Inkpen v. Roberts
862 A.2d 700
(Decided December 1, 2004)

To read the decision in PDF format click here.

Legal:  Monroe County Court of Common Pleas decision allows title search company to shield itself from full liability for defective search with disclaimer language.

Express Financial Services, Inc. v. Gateway Abstract, Inc.
71 Pa. D. & C.4th 344
Monroe County Court of Common Pleas (2004)

Title search company, Gateway, missed a mortgage that ultimately resulted in a claim for Express Financial Services in the amount of $220,000.  Although the court concluded that Gateway was liable for the mistake in its search, the court also concluded that Gateway's liability was limited to $40, the cost of the search.  This was based on the contractual relationship of the two parties and the disclaimer language contained in all of Gateway's searches, which read as follows:

“This title search is based upon the examination of recorded evidence from courthouse records. This is not a title policy nor is it a commitment for title insurance. Upon payment, liability is assumed by Gateway Abstract Inc., for any negligence, mistakes or omissions as an abstractor and only for the time period searched. This search excepts any defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters, as a result of or caused by computer error, program error, programmer error, or programming limitations, including but not limited to any misspellings or derivations of the surname when searching any courthouse automated system liability hereunder is assumed by the company for its negligence, mistakes or omissions in a sum not exceeding the cost of the search.”

[NOTE:  There may be a grammar error in the last sentence, but this is how the disclaimer appears in the case report.]

Because this was a court of common pleas decision, it is not binding law in Pennsylvania, but may be persuasive in future cases.

For an analysis of this decision click here.

Legal:  PA Commonwealth Court rules that Recorder of Deeds is not responsible for indexing mistakes

Antonis v. Liberati
821 A.2d 666
(Decided April 21, 2003)

For an analysis of this decision click here.  This case is currently under appeal to the PA Supreme Court.