BERRIEN COUNTY REGISTER OF DEEDS
Lori D. Jarvis, Register of Deeds
Berrien County Administration Center
701 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Phone: 269-983-7111 ext. 8562
Email: Register of Deeds
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (Except Holidays)
Map & Driving Directions
Welcome to the Berrien County Register of Deeds office. The first Constitution of Michigan (1835) established the office of the Register of Deeds. The Register of Deeds is the elected representative of the people to review and record legal documents pertaining to the transfer and encumbrance of land and property within the County--a land historian. The Register of Deeds also serves as Chairman of the County Plat Board, which reviews and gives final approval to all subdivisions in the County, eventually recording the plat as well.
In Berrien County, deed and miscellaneous document indexes and images are available through the internet from 1950 to the present; other documents mortgages, lis pendens, liens, discharge of mortgages, etc., indexes and images are available online from 1967 to the present. All land records dating back to 1831 (the registering of land records precedes statehood in Berrien County) are available by visiting the office.
Documents are received in the Register of Deeds office by mail, express delivery service or by being personally delivered. Documents are reviewed in accordance with Michigan statutes, and if they meet recording requirements they are receipted and receive a label indicating the processed date and time, as well as the liber and page reference where the document will be located in the computerized system. The document will be scanned (a digital image created), indexed and made ready for public access. In Berrien County, we index information as provided by State statute, we then rekey the information to make sure it is as accurate as possible. The computerized indexes are available to the public at no expense. The original document is returned to the recording party, and the scanned image becomes the official copy. Images are also microfilmed as the permanent record and backup in case of emergency and stored in an off-site, secure location.
The Register of Deeds is charged with maintaining all land records permanently for perpetuity. Lending institutions, abstract offices, realtors, attorneys, credit bureaus and the general public make use of the land records daily. With internet access at regofdeeds.berriencounty.org, many records are available 24/7; if you require a search dating back further than 1950, our office is open during standard County operating hours.
Other counties, states and countries have recognized the importance of having registered real estate parcels; realizing that without a deed, title or lease, an owner cannot use the land as collateral or improve the property. Beyond the economics of loans and mortgages, people with land titles enjoy a greater sense of security and community. The purpose of recording is to protect people who have acted in good faith and have an interest in the land or property. Recording acts do not create a criminal penalty for not recording, but provides a strong incentive to record documents for public record. By recording, you are giving the general public constructive notice of your ownership or interest rights. Michigan, along with many other states, is a “Race-Notice” state; whereby it is not only in the recording the document – constructive notice, but the timeliness of recording – race; that may provide priority of ownership and interest rights.
You may access information regarding the recording of documents, fees, requesting land search assistance and other topics from the Berrien County website or by contacting our office at ROD@berriencounty.org or calling 269-983-7111 ext. 8562.
Lori D. Jarvis
Register of Deeds