N.H. Political Races Down Ballot: What Does The Register Of Deeds Do? | New Hampshire Public Radio

N.H. Political Races Down Ballot: What Does The Register Of Deeds Do?

Oct 21, 2020

Credit Sign on the door of a register of deeds office.

New Hampshire voters will choose a number of local political leaders, from county officers to state reps, on Nov. 3.

Every Friday leading up to the election on Weekly N.H. News Roundup, we talk about one of these down-ballot offices, from what powers they hold, to how they impact your daily life.

This time we talked with Natch Greyes, an attorney with the New Hampshire Municipal Association, about the Register of Deeds. 

Click here for all of NHPR's election coverage.

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Register of deeds in brief: Oversees a registry of land ownership in the county, including mortgages and land use. 

This interview has been editing lightly for clarity. 

What does the register of deeds do?

Natch Greyes: They oversee the registry, which is the permanent record of all land ownership in the state. So if you own your house, and mortgages on that, if your neighbor has the right to use your driveway, any of that stuff is going to be at the registry.

They make sure all that information is kept safe and accessible to people buying real estate, selling real estate, for any sort of legal actions, for your local municipality for tax purposes.

What skills does the register of deeds need?

Natch Greyes: Organization is probably a key skill, but also that passion for property law, because there are a lot of different things that the register does besides overseeing the office. Especially in today’s day and age, there’s a lot of digitization of old records, and making old records more accessible to the public.

Who typically runs for this position?

Natch Greyes: People who are really passionate about property, but it’s not something that is usually very competitive. Oftentimes, it’s somebody who has worked at the office for a long time. And once the current register retires or moves on, usually some of their deputies run for the position.

Let’s say there’s a property boundary dispute between neighbors. Does the register of deeds somehow come in as arbiter of that, or is there a different role for the register in that case?

Natch Greyes: The register has what I would consider the original copies of the deeds. The judge at the courthouse would decide where the property line is if there is a dispute between deeds, but the register actually has the copies of the deeds. So in most cases, you could go back and look at the deeds and they tell you where that boundary line is.

How long is the term?

Natch Greyes: Two years. 

Is this race ever controversial?

Natch Greyes: It's not very controversial. It's a pretty low key race.