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Town to start processing land documents electronically

By Anne M. Amato

Westport will become the first town in Fairfield County to accept land record documents that are electronically delivered, after the Board of Selectmen signed off on the plan Wednesday.

An "electronic recording agreement" between the town, Town Clerk Patty Strauss and companies chosen by the town clerk as delivery agents for the electronic recording of documents on the town's land records, was unanimously approved by the three selectmen.

The proposal was presented by Strauss, who said it would streamline the process of handling property transfers without any cost to the town to implement. There would also be no new costs attached, she added.

"Effective April first of this year, the state approved regulations for the electronic recording and delivery of documents," said Strauss, adding the process isn't new and that Connecticut is the 43rd state to "finally get on board." If approved, she said Westport would be the first town in Fairfield County to accept and process electronically delivered documents.

Strauss said the "e-recording" would benefit those buying or selling a house. "It will speed up and streamline the recording process," she said. Documents can be sent from a lawyer to her office with the push of a button, she said. "No paper is transferred at all," she added.

She said that, currently, once a paper document is scanned and processed by her office, it has to be returned, by mail. Sometimes documents that arrive with problems also have to be returned and resent. That takes time and costs her department postage money.

With electronic recording, any problems with a transaction can be taken care of quickly with less turnaround time. She said it sometimes takes weeks to get paper documents back.

Selectman Helen Garten asked about training.

Strauss said her entire department would be trained over the phone. "It will take about an hour," Strauss said. "They will send us a document and show us how to accept or reject them."

Strauss said there are three national companies, or delivery agents, that would do the recording.

"What are the budgetary consequences," asked Selectman Avi Kaner.

"I'm happy to tell you I don't have to ask for any funding," Strauss said. She said an electronic hookup that the town "long ago" agreed to purchase is all the equipment that's needed.

"I'm all set up," she said. "There's no funding needed, now or ongoing." Read Full Article 

Following the vote, Kaner said Westport is "once again on the leading edge" by becoming the first in Faifield County to accept e-documents.