comscore State only records land deal, so homeowner retains deed
Kokua Line

State only records land deal, so homeowner retains deed

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QUESTION: We paid off our mortgage in 2002 and have a "Release of Mortgage Form" from the state Bureau of Conveyances, but no deed. My sister paid off her mortgage this year and was given a copy of the deed by the bureau. When she asked about the original, she was told that it’s probably floating in cyberspace. What legal documents are we supposed to receive when the mortgage is paid off?

ANSWER: The Bureau of Conveyances doesn’t keep any original documents — it merely records a land transaction, said Registrar Nicki Ann Thompson.

You should have the deed to your home somewhere in your possession, she said.

"People think when they’re paying off their mortgage that the bank is releasing ownership. They’re not," Thompson explained. "They’re just paying off the loan and releasing that mortgage as an encumbrance against that property."

Hence, the "Release of Mortgage Form" you received.

Thompson said your sister may have asked for a certified copy of her deed. If you wish to get a certified copy of your deed, go to the bureau’s website,, click on "FAQs" in the right column, then No. 20 on the list; or call 587-0154 for information.

Thompson reiterated that the bureau does not "hold anything here that’s original. We may, during the processing and review (keep an original document temporarily), but everything ultimately leaves here."

And ultimately, your bank, title company, whoever the mortgage was recorded through, would have returned the deed to you, she said.

"So even though you may have a mortgage on your property, you would get your deed back after it’s recorded," Thompson said.

QUESTION: I received a letter saying I was going to get the American Community Survey, then I got the questionnaire. It asks so many personal questions. It says we are required by law to fill out this survey. Is this true?

ANSWER: Yes, the survey is from the U.S. Census Bureau, and you are required to answer it, as we previously explained ("Kokua Line," April 3, 2010).

Go to or call 800-354-7271 for more information.


For free.

The Better Business Bureau of Hawaii is joining BBBs across the nation in sponsoring Secure Your ID Day on Saturday, Oct. 23.

That means you can take your unwanted paper documents, CDs and floppy disks and have them shredded securely by Access Information Management. Up to three boxes or bags of paper, CDs and floppy disks will be accepted.

You can also take unused cell phones for recycling by the Wireless Alliance.

The shredding will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at two locations: Aina Haina School, 801 W. Hind Drive, and McKinley High School (Pensacola Street parking lot).

Last year Hawaii recorded the third most traffic and volume of shredding among all the participating BBBs, with 638 vehicles delivering 12.7 tons of materials, BBB officials said.

The event is a public education/community service event aimed at preventing identity theft.

Also participating locally is Bank of Hawaii, which will have volunteers joining BBB staff to provide advice on protecting yourself against identity theft.

For more information, go to

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


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