Title Search/ Block Chain Development in US Land Records

March 3, 2022

The use of Blockchain technology to perform real estate title searches is still in its early infancy and it remains to be seen how quickly it will develop. Blockchain is a unique type of database that stores information in blocks that are chained together. Once a block is filled with data, it’s chained to the previous block. All blocks are chained together in chronological order.

The most common use for Blockchain is a ledger of transactions. For example, Bitcoin uses Blockchain as a ledger of all Bitcoin transactions in a decentralized way. A copy of the complete ledger of all Bitcoin transactions exists on thousands of computers. Each computer or group of computers that have the Blockchain are in different geographic locations and operated by individuals or groups of users. The computers that make up the Blockchain network are called nodes. Each node has the complete record of all bitcoin transactions since its inception. If a node has a data error, it can correct itself by using the other nodes in the network to correct itself. No one node in the Bitcoin network can alter the data held within it. “Because of this, the history of transactions in each block that makes up Bitcoin’s block chain is irreversible.” (Investopedia quote)  This is an obvious plus for fraud prevention in the ledger; all changes must be approved by all nodes in the network.

Consider the possibility of a block chain network of nodes for the official US land records, with an agreement protocol like found in the Bitcoin Network. When doing a title search in a blockchain system, a searcher could be confident that there was very little chance that the search would return fraudulent information, missing information or major errors since all new blocks must be agreed upon by all nodes in the network before becoming part of the blockchain.

In order to implement Blockchain technology into the U.S. land records, a tremendous investment must be made to bring it to market to the 3,143 counties in the United states :

  1. Major funding to vastly increase the speed at which blockchain transactions occur and are approved.

  2. Major funding to vastly increase the volume of transactions that can be placed on individual blocks

Who will control the national Blockchain system when the investment is made?The 3,143 US land recording offices at the county level control the recording of all land records. Perhaps, the land recording offices could agree to continually supply whomever funds a nationwide market ready blockchain system for land records in exchange for a negotiated fee. Obviously, this will take time. The first US land recording offices started converting from paper to digital documents in the mid 1980’s. They started the conversion with new documents and moved forward. It wasn’t till later, as the technology progressed, that they went back and began digitizing older documents. Some counties have now digitized their land records back to the beginning. I assume the same will happen with blockchain; in that after the rollout of the initial market ready system and some time has passed, there will be new technology developed that will enable past land records to be put on the blockchain much more quickly.

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