Delaware County modernizes its land records system, unraveling 240 years of historical records online

The initiative is part of the Delaware County Recorder of Deeds Office’s multi-year plan to digitize the records system.

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The Delaware County Courthouse and Government Center

The Delaware County Courthouse and Government Center in Media, Pa. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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No more inconvenient visits to the Delaware County Government Center to access property records.

The Delaware County Recorder of Deeds Office moved more than 240 years of historical data and more than 35 million images online.

Residents can now access land records through the county’s new GovOS Cloud Search, a government records search engine. They can also purchase certified copies, documents and index prints online.

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“It’s blazing fast and intuitive and it’s much easier for the casual user to find what they want,” said Bob Auclair, director of the office. “There’s an entire generation of folks that know how to search with a keyword and that’s actually their expectation.”

The Delaware County Recorder of Deeds Office soft launched the web-based tool in February, a county spokesperson announced Wednesday afternoon. The move to the cloud is part of a multi-year effort to modernize the county’s systems. Delco is the third county in Pennsylvania to adopt GovOS Cloud Search.

“Anytime you go to buy a property, sell a property or refinance a property, it’s really important that everybody involved in that transaction be able to check the property records — and we’ve taken out of that equation the need to come into the office,” Delaware County Councilmember Christine Reuther said.

Reuther said the “Google-like” functions will be helpful to Delaware County’s causal researchers and history buffs alike.

“You can go in and do all that research now without having to identify a parcel number or an address,” Reuther said. “You can basically go in and search by name.”

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In 2019, Delco was one of the largest counties in the country that was not equipped for eRecording. Starting in 2020, officials began migrating some records onto County Fusion, another co-existing platform. The new system will offer vastly more data, streamline the process and enhance property fraud protection.

Auclair said it’s not unheard of for companies to scare seniors with horror stories of fraud.

“And they do that so that they can sell a monthly subscription of $15 or $20 a month to folks. They imply that they are insurance, they imply that they can lock the title, whatever that would be, and they imply that they provide instant alerts of anything happening with the property — and none of that is actually true,” Auclair said. “But what we have is a free email alert system where the very next day, which is anything recorded on your property, you will get an email alert.”

Residents can sign up for “Property Alert” online. County Fusion will still be available for use.

“The cloud search is a fantastic tool and I think folks will appreciate it. But I will consider it a success if at the end of the year, I’ve gotten a healthy number of residents and taxpayers to sign up for Property Alert,” Auclair said.

Reuther anticipates the county will learn a lot about itself through the introduction of the GovOS Cloud Search.

“Delaware County, like most counties, has orphaned properties,” Reuther said. “We don’t know who owns them. So the ability to go in and do searches like this through all of our property records and our deeds is just going to open up a huge world of information about the history of Delaware County.”

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