Deeds Done, But Not Dirt Cheap

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If you've bought a home or any other property in the last year or so, you may get a letter than looks pretty official, but one Knox County official says treat it like junk mail.

This doesn't quite qualify as a scam. Apparently, it's legal, just a big waste of money.

How much are you willing to pay somebody else, to get something you can get yourself that you may not even need?

Just how do you keep the wolves from your home and castle door?

"There's really no reason for anybody to need a certified copy of their deed. Once it's recorded in our office, it's a permanent record," says Nick McBride, from the Knox County Register of Deeds Office.

Even so, a letter from the National Deed Service Company claims a federal government website recommends you get your own copy of it for proof of the property transfer. Which National Deed Service will be more than happy to do for you, for about 60 bucks.

"The Register of Deeds can provide copy of the deed for two dollars," McBride says.

It can, and does. Two bucks to cover the costs of record search and copying. So how can National Deed Service charge twenty to thirty times more?

Dial its toll free number, you get voicemail:
"This is not information you must have, it is strictly, your choice. We are not affiliated with any state or government agency. Please be aware that we cannot change any information on a certified copy of your recorded deed. We buy a mailing list of real estate actions which is public information."

Knox County's Register of Deeds even sells such information to various private businesses.
But, "We don't capture the addresses. They know the property addresses, so we have no idea where they're getting the information at," McBride says.

We've tried to reach National Deed Service to find out. Nobody's returned our phone calls. The district attorney general's office says the company stays legal, because neither the letter nor the voicemail claim anything that isn't true.

What both leave out, of course, is that you can get these yourself, a lot cheaper and quicker, with a trip or a phone call to the register's office.