How to Find Lost Deeds

A deed is a legal record that proves that you own land. It may note past transactions involving this property. If you need to prove your ownership of this property, or are interested in purchasing it but the deed has been lost, you can find the deed using the names of the buyer and the seller. First, determine where the deeds are recorded. Then check online to see if the information can be found there. If it is not available online, you will need to go to the registry of deeds.

The first step to locating a lost deed is to write down the name of the buyer (grantee) and the seller (granter).

Next you need to determine where the records are located. Check online or by calling your county courthouse where the transaction took place to determine the location of the deed recording office, which is usually called the registry of deeds or recorder of deeds. If the proper office has an online directory, you will want to use this to save time.

If there is no online directory, you will need to go in person to the registry of deeds, where they maintain a grantee index of buyers and a granter index of sellers. Searching these lists will reveal the most recent transaction. This will be simple if you are the granter or grantee because you know how to spell your own name. But if you are unsure of the exact name of the seller or buyer, you may have to try several different spellings.

Following the above steps should lead you to the deed to the land. The deed will give you information about the property, such as a description of the property, the price of the transaction, and a chain of title, which will tell you who owned the land in the past. Depending on your reason for seeking the deed, the information may be highly useful, or much of it may be of little interest.

You do not need a certified copy of a deed to prove ownership, but you might want to make a photocopy for your records. A homebuyer will usually use a title company to insure against loss, so handing over the physical copy of the deed is not as significant as it was in the past.


Find out what the hours are for the registry of deeds, and give yourself plenty of time to search through the files.

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Things Needed

  • Registry of deeds
  • Granter index
  • Grantee index

About the Author

John Toivonen is an attorney in Lansing, Mich., and has been a professional writer since 1999. His work has appeared in "The Washington Times." He holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Guilford College.

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