Filing a deed in Cook County can be divided into three separate phases: (1) Materials Organization; (2) Visit to the Department of Finance; and (3) Visit to the Recorder of Deeds.
In order to file a deed in Cook County, the necessary documents are as follows: (1) Tax Declaration (MyDec); (2) Tax Stamps (or “Zero Stamps” if an exempt transfer); (3) A Grantor/Grantee Affidavit (exempt transfers); (4) The Deed to be Filed (which must contain PIN number, complete legal description, commonly known address, grantee’s name, return address (or “mail to” address), and preparer’s name and address); and (5) A Full Payment Certificate (“FPC”). Documents numbered (3) through (5) must be properly executed and (3) and (4) notarized according to Illinois Notarial Record Requirements (5 ILCS 312/3-102).
The requirement for an FPC is not expressly stated on the Recorder of Deeds’ website, and worse yet, most individuals working the phones at the Recorder’s Office, and even those at the Water Department or Department of Finance, do not know about the FPC processes.
To obtain an FPC, a Full Payment Certificate Application must be completed and submitted, for which a $50 filing fee is assessed unless the application is properly marked for exemption. The FPC application may be found at https://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fin/Utility/fillable_FPC_app_7-9-15.pdf. The completed Full Payment Certificate Application must be scanned, along with the executed and notarized Deed and Grantor/Grantee Affidavit and emailed to email@example.com or mailed to the following address:
City of Chicago Department of Finance
333 South State Street, Suite 330
Chicago, Illinois 60604
The Tax Declaration may be prepared by using MyDec, or a handwritten or typed form is acceptable. If using MyDec, make sure that the Declaration is finalized by clicking “Accept Declaration” on the top right of the page, and then printing the accepted and completed version of the ENTIRE declaration. Finally, visit the Cook County Recorder website to determine the proper amount of the filing fee. It is important to note that each additional page after two pages has a two ($2) dollar fee, and that fee is in addition to the prescribed fees for each document. For example, when filing an exempt transfer, the Grantor/Grantee Affidavit has a prescribed fee of two ($2) dollars, but also is considered an additional page to the deed, which increases the fee an additional two ($2) dollars. Thus, the fee for filing the Grantor/Grantee Affidavit is four ($4) dollars. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds website fee schedule can be found at http://cookrecorder.com/recording-fees/
It is also advisable to bring a small amount of extra cash or a check when traveling to the Recorder of Deeds as added insurance in case an error was made in the fee calculation. If more than one deed is being filed, all total fees can be combined into a single check to be given to the cashier. Checks must contain the contact information for the issuing party, including the name, address and phone number.
Visit to the Department of Finance
Before taking the documents to be filed, you will need to stop at the Department of Finance to collect the tax stamps. Make sure you have an FPC and an accepted, completed MyDec (entire declaration) paper clipped together for each filing. You will wait in line for a specific cashier who is designated to issue stamps; there will be others in the same line who are only there to pay tickets and bills, and they will pass you up, often causing confusion, jealousy and frustration. Once you are given the stamps, make sure you separate out each stamp and receipt for each deed. Keep the printed MyDecs.
Once you have the stamps, which come as a sticker with a barcode on them, you will stick them on to the signed, notarized deed. Make sure you don’t stick them on the top of the first page, as this is for Recorder of Deeds use only, and could result in a penalty. If it is your first time filing a deed, or if you are new to the process, it is most likely best to wait for the supervision of a document reviewer from the Recorder of Deeds to ensure you are abiding by all document requirements.
Visit to Recorder of Deeds
Upon completion of your visit to the Department of Finance, with all your documents, stamps, receipts, and MyDecs, you will proceed directly across the hall to the Recorder of Deeds. You will first go to the document reviewers’ counter, where you will present your documents. It is required that you stick the stamps on the deed yourself; no personnel can do this step for you. Again, if it is your first time, or you are unfamiliar with the process, it is good practice to do this under the supervision of the document reviewer to ensure it is placed correctly and no data obscured. You will only need to submit the deed (with the stamp affixed to it and all aforementioned requirements fulfilled) and the Grantor/Grantee Affidavit. This will suffice for them to enter the data and send you across the room to another teller, who will then give you a “transfer tax paid” sticker to also stick on your deed. It is often difficult (especially under the condition that you have a lengthy and wordy deed that leaves little to no room due to multiple signature blocks, exemptions, preparers’ information and legal descriptions) to find room for two, or in some cases three, stickers to be visible and no information obscured. For this reason, it is advisable to ask the second teller to assist you.
Next, and finally, it is time to take your completed documents over to the cashier. This is where they take each deed for official recording, receive payment, and input the payment-issuing parties’ information (name, address and phone number) into the system. Once all proper procedures are followed, the cashier will officially record the transfer of property and stamp the deed on the top of the first page (or elsewhere in certain circumstances). Once the payment is made, all the original, filed documents will be returned.