RECORDING FEES LOWERED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Although the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Budget has passed, the bill to amend the Fiscal Code has not been approved. Until that is approved, the JCP/ATJ fee will remain at $19.00. Recording fees for documents with the JCP/ATJ fee will be reduced by $21.25 until further notice.
The Fiscal Code (Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 343, No. 176) is amended annually and is commonly called the “trailer” bill, as it follows the budget bill. It is an act of the PA legislature that provides accountability for spending and makes transfers or other changes necessary to impact the availability of revenue.
What is the JCS/ATJ fee?
The initials mean Judicial Computer System/Access to Justice. This is a Pennsylvania State fee that is collected on all appropriate documents recorded in our office. This fee was determined by Title 42 in the state legislation. Recorder of Deeds is not the only office that collects these fees.
NEW FEATURE FOR FRAUD ALERT PROGRAM
Since 2019 the Bucks County Fraud Alert Program has been successful in helping residents feel protected when it comes to their property. When it was first introduced, our recording vendor, Landex, only had the capabilities to monitor our records by name. Anyone signing up for the program could enter up to five different names, or variations of a name, to be monitored. Once signed up, an alert would be sent by text or email if anything under those names are recorded in our office. Those recordings could be legitimate or fraudulent, and if found to be fraudulent, we would direct the individual to the District Attorney’s office.
While this program has been very successful, we are always looking for ways to improve. Just recently a new feature for the Fraud Alert Program was release. Residents can now sign up not just under different or variations of names, but also by county tax parcel number.
What is a county tax parcel number?
Almost all documents in our office are required to have a county tax parcel number, only some power of attorney’s and soldier’s discharge papers do not require one. This number is given to all properties within Bucks County by the Bucks County Board of Assessment office. The multiple digit number actually identifies the location of the property within the county. Every county in the commonwealth uses tax parcel numbers, but the format varies from county to county. Also, tax parcel numbers can be referred to by different names such as: CPN (County Parcel Number), PIN (Property Identification Number), APN (Assessor Parcel Number), UPN (Unified Parcel Number), or names as simple as Parcel ID, Parcel #, and Tax Map Number.
Please see the graphic above for the format used in Bucks County, as well as an explanation of what each section indicates.
TOWN HALL-ESQUE MEETING – NOTARY EDITION
In recent months a new act was introduced to the Notary Public Statue. Dan felt it was a good idea to extend his Town Hall-esque Meetings to a special notary edition to speak on this new act.
On Tuesday, October 24, 2023, Dan will meet with Bucks County notary publics to let them know about the act and answer any questions they may have about being a notary. While at the event, new or renewing notary publics may take their oath of office. We do ask that anyone wanting to take advantage of this RSVP prior to the day of the event.
This will take place at the Bucks County Association of Realtors on Old York Road in Warminster.
RSVP to Robyn Goodnoe at 215-348-6329 or email@example.com
PROJECT SEARCH INTERN
Our office is excited to welcome a new Project SEARCH Intern, Sophia. Because the Project SEARCH Program runs with the school year, Sophia is our first intern for this term. She joins nine other young adults who will be working within different Bucks County facilities learning various job skills. Each intern will complete 3 different internships, with the goal of finding a job at the end of the program.
This is the second year the Recorder of Deeds office has participated in the program. Between the two interns our office had from the previous cycle, one went on to get an office job close to his home, and the other decided to take some college courses before entering the work force.
Please join us in welcoming Sophia to the office!
Need to do property research? Genealogical research? Did you know you can come into our office and do this? We have a research area and staff to assist you!
The research area is open to the public, with no need to make an appointment. Research hours are Monday through Friday, 7:45am to 3:30pm.
We also have public desks right by the windows if there is a need to sit down, take a break, or gather all the historical research found.
If you are not already aware our office is located in the Bucks County Administration Building (or the “Old Courthouse”) at 55 E. Court Street, 6th Floor, Doylestown, PA.
Please note that while our staff members are here to help, they cannot do the actual searches for you.
GRACE’S GUIDE – BY RECORDER OF DEEDS SOLICITOR GRACE DEON
Property Rights of Unmarried Couples
Although at one time it was frowned upon, there is now a greater acceptance of couples living together before marriage. In many instances, this also includes purchasing a home together before the wedding. Why is this a concern?
When people are in love, the idea of entering into a “formal” written agreement with their loved one seems unnecessary. Inevitably, the individual in the relationship who suggests doing so leaves the other person feeling that there is a lack of trust. This leads to hurt feelings and arguments, which puts a damper on the excitement of becoming new homeowners.
Fast forward to the following scenario: Jenna and Tom are engaged. The wedding is scheduled for the fall of 2024. They fall in love with a residence and their offer is accepted. Jenna plans to use an inheritance for the down payment and other settlement costs. Since they do not have a lot of furniture, Jenna will also be paying for new furniture with the money she saved before meeting Tom. As part of a home purchase, Jenna and Tom need to take out a mortgage. Tom’s credit is not good so only Jenna will apply for the mortgage. Once the home is purchased, she and Tom plan to split equally the costs of the monthly mortgage, homeowners' insurance, utilities, etc.
When it comes time to prepare the deed, Jenna tells their realtor that it is also Tom’s home, so his name should be on the deed, along with hers. Jenna’s parents really like Tom, but they are concerned about what would happen if the two broke up prior to the wedding. They insist that Jenna meet with a lawyer. Jenna agrees and after doing so, learns the following:
• Jenna is solely liable to the lender if a mortgage payment is missed. Tom, being a party on the deed, has nothing to do with the financial obligation to pay the mortgage.
• If Jenna and Tom break up after their wedding day, the division of their jointly held real and personal property will be determined by the Pennsylvania Divorce Code; however, if they break up before the wedding day, they cannot rely upon that statute.
• Even though Tom is not contributing to the down payment or settlement costs, he has a 50% ownership interest in the property and entitlement to 50% of the equity should the property be sold because Jenna included him on the deed. If Jenna and Tom break up before marrying, then this would apply.
What is the attorneys’ advice? Jenna and Tom should enter into a written agreement called a Cohabitation Agreement that specifically addresses issues related to the division of the property should the two separate before they are married. Paying legal fees to draft a contract may not be at the top of the couple’s agenda when paying off school loans and affording a wedding and honeymoon take precedence. Attempting to enforce an oral or unwritten agreement about the division of the property can lead to litigation between the parties. Litigation is far more expensive than having a written agreement in place to guide the process. A written agreement is not a complete safeguard against a future battle in court but having a well-drafted agreement outlining the party’s rights, interests and obligations is by far the better course.
HISTORY SOCIAL RECAP
Every second Wednesday of the month we invite the public to join us to learn some Bucks County history. During our hour-long History Social we explore different areas of the county and how they can be located in our historic deed books. Going forward with these events in 2023, we thought it would be a good idea to do a quick recap in our bi-monthly newsletter. This way anyone that isn’t able to attend can still enjoy the history!
August’s History Social – Bucks County Golf Courses
- Fox Hollow Golf Club
- Located at 2020 Trumbauresville Road, Quakertown.
- Built in 1966 by architect David Gordon.
- Is a 6,600 yard, par 71 course that has tree lined fairways and the Unami Creek running through the property.
- Play on this course is year round on rye grass fairways and bent/poa grass greens.
- One of the earliest deeds found in Book 49 on Page 480 is from 1823.
- David Gordon
- Born in 1922, is the son of William Gordon.
- Served in WWII as an instructor pilot and then studied agronomy at Penn State.
- Joined his father’s golf course design firm in 1952.
- Was a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).
- While most of his work was done in conjunction with his father, he is credited solely for several other golf course designs.
- The Bucks Club
- Located at 2600 York Road in Jamison.
- Designed by father and son architects William & David Gordon in 1961.
- Is a 6,210 yard, par 70 course that is available to play all year round.
- The 18 hole course boasts a front nine that has remained the same since 1961, but the back nine has changed due to new developments.
- There are two types of tee levels, the blue tees if you want a more challenging day or the red tees, which is said to be shorter and slightly easier.
- Traced the majority of the property back to a deed from 1891 in Book 244, Page 254.
- William Gordon
- William, also known as Willie, was born in Doylestown in 1893.
- Served in WW1 as an athletics instructor.
- After the war worked in the seed business, which eventually led him to golf course architecture.
- Worked for Howard Toomey & William Flynn’s golf course design firm from 1923-1941.
- Was a co-founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).
- Makefield Highlands Golf Club
- Located at 1418 Woodside Road in Yardley.
- Resides on the former Pleasant Valley Estate Farm.
- In 2004, 168 acres of the original Penn Grant made to Thomas Bond became a municipal golf club.
- Two patents from Penn to Bond are found in Deed Book 2.
- The stone Manor House on the property is a registered historical landmark.
- The 7,058-yard, par 72, links style course was designed by Rick Jacobson.
- Recognized by Golf Week Magazine as the #9 Golf Course You Can Play in PA (2013) and by Golf Range Association of America as one of the Top 50 Public Range Facilities.
- The club hosts several events which include the Lower Bucks County Pro-Am and the Golf Association of Philadelphia U.S. Open Qualifier.
- Is also an ideal destination for weddings, banquets and special events.
- The Manor tent complex accommodates up to 200 guests, with French doors and floor-to-ceiling windows for amazing sunset views.
September’s History Social – Historic Fallsington
We had special guests, Kim and Bob, from Historic Fallsington, Inc., at this month’s History Social. They were with us to share pictures and more detailed information about the historic properties that can be found in Fallsington.
- Burges-Lippincott House
- The Burges-Lippincott House is located in Meetinghouse Square, Fallsington.
- The name of the house originates from two of the property’s owners, Daniel Burges and Dr. Henry Lippincott.
- Daniel Burges was a descendant of Samuel Burges.
- The house was built for the Lippincott Family and boasts that it has one of the most beautiful doorways in Bucks County.
- Dr. Henry Lippincott was a much beloved family doctor that moved into the house in 1829.
- This is where he grew up.
- Deed Book 41 Page 330 was the deed from Daniel Burges to Allen Lippincott, a relative of Henry.
- Purchased by Historic Fallsington Inc. in 1953, and for a time served as its headquarters.
- Moon-Williamson Log House
- Located at 26 Yardley Avenue, Fallsington
- The log house was built for Samuel Moon and his family.
- Samuel Moon is connected to the Snipes-Moon family – it is the same family that owns Snipes Farm in nearby Morrisville.
- Deed found in Book 33, on page 631.
- Moon was a well-known carpenter known for making Windsor chairs, which require no screws or nails.
- The log house itself is known as one of the oldest that is still standing on its original foundation.
- Miss Mary Williamson from Philadelphia, another owner of the log house, only visited during the summertime.
- She is a descendent of Dunck Williams (or Williamson), who was the operator of Dunk’s Ferry.
- Mary Williamson purchased the house after the Civil War and often brought orphaned girls along for a holiday.
- Unsure of when Mary Williamson purchased the property, but a Deed of Trust was found in Book 403, Page 122.
- In the Deed of Trust, she is giving the land for use by “The Girls Friendly Society,” which she founded.
- Stagecoach Tavern
- Located at 1 Meetinghouse Square, Fallsington.
- Prior to being a tavern, it was a private residence owned by John Merrick.
- It was in 1798 or 1799 that it was granted a liquor license and became the Stagecoach Tavern.
- Was purchased by the Fallsington Inn Company in 1820.
- Deed for this purchase can be found in Book 48, on Page 94.
- In 1855 was advertised for sale in the Bucks County Intelligencer.
- The paper described the tavern as “Good two-story Stone Tavern House...Old established stand and doing business for many years...”
- After the Civil War it was called the National Hotel and was in operation as a tavern until Prohibition closed it down.
- Was purchased by the Knights of the Golden Eagle in 1925.
- Deed found in Book 517, Page 90.
- The tavern was many different things after this purchase.
- A post office, lodge hall, and a hardware store.
- Historic Fallsington Inc. officially purchased the property in 1960.
- Deed found in Book 1572, Page 81.