The Boyertown Area Times
Political newcomer running for recorder of deeds
J. Scott DeFrees is no stranger to county recorder of deeds offices.
Having worked in residential lending for the past two decades, he has found himself at those offices often filing paperwork and doing research. He knows how those offices operate, he knows what it’s like to be a customer.
And over the past few years, he said, he’s been disappointed with the service the Berks County office has provided.
“I saw there was a need for a little more guidance and presence in the office,” he said.
That’s why he wants to be on the other side of the counter. DeFrees has announced he will run in the Republican primary election for the position of recorder of deeds.
It remains unclear if the current recorder of deeds, Republican Mary Kozak, will be running to retain her post in the May 16 primary. Requests for comment on her intentions for reelection were not returned.
The responsibilities of the recorder of deeds include documenting all deeds, mortgages and real estate transactions; reporting all real estate related liens; recording all subdivision, land development plans and highway maps; maintaining historical documents like charters; and collecting local and state real estate transfer taxes.
“This is something that really fits in my wheelhouse because of all my years in the mortgage lending business,” DeFrees said. “It also felt like the right time to give back to a community that has given me so much in the past.”
DeFrees said that as a mortgage loan originator he must file documents with local deed offices on a regular basis to meet various state and federal requirements, which gives him an opportunity to see how these offices operate.
“With my background, I understand the importance of keeping documents safe, secure and available for review,” the 55-year-old said. “It is also important that the office invests the resources necessary to preserve these documents for generations to come.”
DeFrees said another item on his agenda would be to reopen the research area in the office where people can access records on historical deeds. While most of that information is available online, he feels it is a public service to supply a venue for research.
The research area was closed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has yet to reopen. DeFrees said that as long as reopening it is fiscally feasible, he plans to do so.
DeFrees said that if voters decide to give him the job he would have a large presence in the office and work side by side with his staff, fostering a positive working environment, improving morale and promoting growth.
The recorder of deeds serves a four-year term and receives an annual salary of $96,043.