The Guilford County Register of Deeds office is having a good deal of success carrying on business during the coronavirus pandemic that’s brought so many county operations and area businesses to a screeching halt.

The virus did shut down the Register of Deeds passport services for now and forced some services online, but the revenue from the office in the just ended fiscal year was much better than expected.

Some revenue streams have taken an obvious hit, such as fees from marriage licenses – because who wants to have a wedding with only ten people where the bride and groom are only able to bump their mask together rather than kiss properly.

Still, recent revenue numbers from the Guilford County deeds office make it clear that it’s not all bad in deeds land. Many revenue producing services are chugging along very well even though the office has had to move some of them online or to snail mail.

According to Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, the key revenue streams that are budgeted for the office each year are from excise tax stamps issued and from the fees the office charges for services. Excise tax stamps are associated with the value of land records transactions while the fees are the actual document fees.  

For fiscal year 2019-2020, which ran from July 1 of last year to June 30 of this year, the excise tax stamp revenue budgeted – that is, projected in the county budget adopted last summer – was $2,750,000. The actual revenue, as of Sunday, May 31, 2020, was $3,739,481.   So, even with a pandemic raging for much of 2020, revenue came in at 135 percent of estimated revenue even without the June numbers added in.

As for deeds’ fees, those were budgeted at $1,475,000 for the fiscal year that just ended. As of May 31, 2020, the actual fee revenue was $1,508,440. That’s 102 percent of expected revenue.

Overall, the Register of Deed’s office’s total budgeted revenue for the fiscal year that just ended was $5,071,760, and, as of the end of May, the office’s actual revenue was $6,032,076. That’s 119 percent of what was budgeted.

Of course, some of the deeds office’s revenue streams are taking a hit: The budgeted revenue for marriage licenses for fiscal 2019-2020, for instance, was $75,000. As of the end of May, the actual revenue was $59,715, or 80 percent of what was anticipated.