As part of a national sales pitch just hitting Beaufort County, an Illinois company is offering to provide registered copies of deeds to property owners for more than 10 times what it costs to simply pick one up at the local deeds office.
Dale Butts, county register of deeds, said his office has started getting calls from property owners who've been sent letters from National Deed Service Inc., offering a certified copy of a deed for $59.50.
The county offers those same copies, which cost less than $5 if you get them from the deeds office in Beaufort or slightly more if you have a one mail.
"There's no telling how many people would actually go for that ... maybe they see that $59.50 and start thinking it's a good deal," Butts said. "But, it's just not necessary."
In most cases, property owners don't even need a certified copy because they get the original property deed upon purchase. Those are recorded, preserved and maintained at the county office.
National Deed Service's contact number directs callers to an automated message that says the company gets deed information about property owners by buying a mailing list of area real estate transactions, which are publicly available.
The company did not return phone calls for comment.
Though the company is not doing anything illegal -- and acknowledges in its letters and on its Web site that "many government records are available free or at a nominal cost from government agencies" -- Butts said he wants county residents to know that it's hardly a hassle for residents to get a certified copy of their deeds.
The site says that it provides a service to customers who might otherwise "lose time from work and pay" getting to the proper county office and waiting for their deed to be found and copied.
However, Butts described the process as relatively painless and straightforward.
Butts said Wednesday that he received a National Deed Service letter just this week.
"I thought it was humorous that here I am, the register, and I got one in the mail yesterday."
How to get a copy of your deed
• Go to the Register of Deeds Office, room 205, Beaufort County Administration Building, 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort. Or, to get a copy mailed to you, call the office at 843-470-2705.