The recording system is the principal means by which the title to real property can be determined. It contains a copy of the transfer documents relating to a parcel of land, typically placed in the records by a purchaser  or mortgagee seeking to protect the priority of title for a document—be it a deed, mortgage, lease, or other document. Persons using the system have an interest in property that they do not want future claimants to challenge. The statute underlying the system is called a recording act—these acts are everywhere enacted. They are typically enacted at the state level. No jurisdiction in the country is without one. Though the acts are not uniform, they vary principally in three ways, as will be discussed in this chapter.
If the recording acts do not protect a person involved in a dispute, common law principles control. The following Examples illustrate these common law principles.