Thursday, November 05, 2015

New Appeals Court foreclosure case

The Massachusetts Appeals Court just issued its decision in Moronta v Nationstar Mortgage. The case arose when a borrower whose home had been foreclosed and who was then being evicted, counter-claimed on several grounds, including a consumer protection violation claim under MGL c.93A that the lender knew or should have known that the borrower would be unable to repay the loan that was granted. The trial court granted Nationstar's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no issue of material fact and that Nationstar was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  The Appeals Court disagreed and returned the case to the trial court for further action.

The Appeals Court held that there was a "genuine issue of material fact whether [lender] should have recognized at the outset that borrower was unlikely to be able to repay the refinanced loans at issue" which is the standard set by the Supreme Judicial Court for finding a violation of 93A.

The decision is worth reading if only for background on how the mortgage industry worked during the boom years. The Appeals Court latched onto the terms of the new loan intended to "rescue" the borrower from the terms of the initial loan of which he was in default. The new loan was for 30 years, but the payments were amortized over 50 to reduce the monthly payment amount. This left a balloon payment due at the end of 30 years equal to 90% of the amount of the initial indebtedness, despite the borrower having payed 30 years of monthly payments. While the Appeals Court did not rule that this was a 93A violation as a matter of law, it did say it created a question of fact that was appropriate for further judicial inquiry.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

October recording statistics

The total number of documents recorded in October 2015 was up 9% from October 2014 (5085 in Oct 2015 v 4915 in Oct 2014);

Deeds were up 1% (603 in Oct 2015 v 595 in Oct 2014);

Mortgages were up 7% (946 in Oct 2015 v 881 in Oct 2014);

Foreclosure deeds were down 10% (18 in Oct 2015 v 20 in Oct 2014);

Orders of Notice were up 48% (68 in Oct 2015 v 46 in Oct 2014).

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Recording a Purchase and Sales Agreement

Yesterday a person tried to record a Purchase and Sale Agreement for property in this registry district. We had to turn them away for two reasons. First, Massachusetts General Laws chapter 184, section 17Astates that "No purchase and sale agreement shall be recorded in any registry of deeds unless such agreement is acknowledged by the parties agreeing to sell such real estate or one of them" and neither of the seller signatures on this P&S were acknowledged. Second, the P&S just identified the land by street address.  I don't think that "360 Gorham Street, Lowell" describes the property with the level of specificity required in a contract for the sale of land. At a minimum, I think a book and page reference to the deed that established ownership in the seller would be required, although the full legal description, or at least a copy of the deed as an exhibit, would probably be better.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Electronic connectivity problems at the registry

We've encountered some connectivity problems during the past 48 hours. Yesterday at about noon, the MassLandRecords website became inaccessible to users. The same outage knocked out our electronic recording capability. Everything within the registry continued to work fine so we were able to record walk-in documents and mail and search the database on our public access computers, but offsite business was shut down for nearly three hours. The IT people at the Secretary of State's office and associated contractors resolved the problem. I'm still not sure what caused it. We resumed full operations at about 2:30 pm so we were out of business for about 2.5 hours.

Today we had a different problem. At about 9:15 am we got error message on all of our computers. They had "lost" the connection with the server that runs our land management software (recording, search, etc). The error resolved itself in only about 4 minutes but it's the second time it has happened. The other was on October 20 which again lasted for only a few minutes. We're not sure what caused these two outages but are concerned that the are indicators that some switch or cable on our internal network may be starting to fail. We've asked the IT people to dig into it to try to preempt a bigger outage.

Because so much of our operations have shifted to electronics, an electrical outage or computer problem have a major impact on us. We could always shift back to a paper-based system but that would only be done with a multi-day outage. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Legal Implications of Rooftop Solar Panels

Here is an article I wrote for the October 2015 edition of the Merrimack Valley Housing Report, a joint venture of UMass Lowell and the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds. For more information about the Housing Report and to subscribe to it for future delivery to your email inbox, check out MVHR webpage.  Here's my article:

Drive through any neighborhood in Lowell these days and you will notice that the matte gray shingles on many homes have been covered with shiny black solar panels. These systems capture sunlight, convert it to electricity, and use that electricity to power the house’s appliances. Excess electricity is fed back into the power grid with the homeowner getting a credit to be applied against traditional electricity usage which occurs at night when no solar power is being created.

A typical agreement between a solar company and a homeowner lasts for twenty years. During those two decades, the solar company continues to own the solar equipment installed on the homeowner’s rooftop. To protect its property, the solar company records a UCC-1 financing statement at the registry of deeds. This form identifies the property owner, the property address, and the book and page of the property owner’s deed. The purpose of this filing is to notify everyone, especially potential purchasers of the property or lenders about to refinance the homeowner’s mortgage, of the security interest held by the solar company in the rooftop equipment.  

The solar companies vigorously assert that these financing statements are not liens.  Vivint Solar Developer LLC, one of the more active companies in this region, even includes the following language in its UCCs:


Another of the primary solar companies in this area, SolarCity, in its Frequently Asked Questions webpage responds to the question, “Is there a lien on the solar home?” with this:

No. What you’ll find on the title of a home with a SolarCity power system is a UCC-1 fixture filing. A UCC-1 fixture filing is not a lien against the home. SolarCity files a Uniform Commercial Code Financing Statement, or UCC-1, on all of our solar energy systems in the real property records where each system is located prior to or when the system is installed. We file the UCC-1 to notify anyone who might perform a title search on the address where the system is located that our property, the solar energy system, is installed on the home. This filing protects our rights as the system’s owner against any mortgage on the real property. If the lender that holds the mortgage on the real property forecloses on our customer’s home, the UCC-1 filing protects our interest in the solar energy system and prohibits the lender from taking ownership of it.

SolarCity goes on to acknowledge that “lenders prefer not to see anything on the title” so SolarCity routinely releases its UCC filing in the case of refinancing and then re-files it after a new mortgage has been recorded.  That SolarCity acknowledges the need to release its position before a lender will extend financing to the homeowner is strong evidence that the UCC filing is in fact an encumbrance on the property.

Besides complicating the refinancing process, a rooftop solar unit might also complicate the sale of one’s home. SolarCity’s website addresses this, offering three options. A property owner may transfer the existing agreement to the new homeowner; pre-pay the 20 year commitment to the solar company; or move the device to one’s new home. The website assures readers that the company will not be an impediment to the sale of a home.

The number of solar-related UCC filings is steadily increasing.  Approximately 1100 of these financing statements have been recorded at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds with 65% of them coming in 2015 alone. Because these rooftop solar units are so new, their practical effect on owning, refinancing, and selling one’s home has not yet been fully determined. With the standard solar company-homeowner contracts being twenty years in duration, there are many rights and obligations involved. There are also many implications for lawyers, loan officers, brokers and appraisers. Should the standard purchase and sale agreement be revised to reflect the existence of a rooftop solar unit? What if the new buyer is willing to assume the agreement with the solar company but the solar company rejects that? What if the buyer wants nothing to do with solar energy and wants the unit removed? If the unit is removed, what impact will that have on the integrity of the roof? There are many unanswered questions and probably just as many questions that have not yet been identified.

Here in the northeast where energy costs are so high, the idea of powering one’s home with a rooftop solar panel is very attractive. Nothing in this article is intended to detract from that. Nevertheless, there should be a greater discussion of the real estate law consequences of these devices so that homeowners are fully aware of the consequences of adopting this type of energy solution and so real estate professionals are able to successfully navigate the legal and practical challenges posed by this new technology.

Friday, October 23, 2015

2015 recording statistics thru September

With more than three-quarters of the calendar year done, here's a comparison of the number of documents recorded in 2014 and 2015.

The number of deeds recorded from January thru September of 2015 was up 5% from the same period in 2014 (44,980 in 2015 vs 39,498 in 2014);

Mortgages were up 29% (8491 in 2015 vs 6575 in 2014);

Foreclosure Deeds up 24% (138 in 2015 vs 111 in 2014);

Orders of Notice up 35% (334 in 2015 vs 247 in 2014);

Total documents up 14% (44,980 in 2015 vs 39,498 in 2014).

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Electronic Recording Statistics

In June, 43% of the documents we recorded were sent to us electronically.  In real numbers, 2886 documents were recorded electronically out of a total of 6707.  That translates into a daily average of 131 out of 305 documents coming to us via electronic recording.

The percentage recorded by electronic recording for the first half of 2015 was 44% or 12252 documents out of 27906.  The six month daily average would therefore be 103 electronic recordings out of a daily total of 235. 

A consistent 20% of our recordings come through the mail which would be an average of 47 documents per day.  That would leave 85 documents, or 36% recorded by walk-in customers.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Closer look at 2015 foreclosures

Earlier this week I wrote posts comparing recording statistics from the first half of 2015 to the first half of 2014 and another comparing recordings in June 2015 to June 2014.  The number of foreclosures was up significantly in both periods which warranted a closer look.  Here's what I found when I scrutinized foreclosure deeds recorded in June 2015 which I reported had risen from 5 to 16, a jump of 220%.

The first thing I found was that there were really only 14 foreclosure deeds during this period.  One property straddled the boundary between Tewksbury and Lowell so it showed up in the index query three different times: as Lowell, Tewksbury and "multiple" towns.  Still, the 14 foreclosure deeds still constitute a 180% increase which is also a worrisome number.

On to a closer look at the individual mortgages involved in these foreclosures:

Four of the mortgages that were foreclosed were obtained at the same time the property was purchased.  One was from 2003, two from 2005, and one from 2006, with down payments of 5%, 11%, 25% and 25%).  Two other mortgages were on properties that had been received by the borrowers as gifts.  One was a $283,000 mortgage from 2004 on a property that was obtained in 1989 for $1; the other was a $287,000 mortgage from 2014 on a property that was obtained in 2009 for $1.

The eight remaining mortgages all involved refinancings in which the borrower had purchased the property earlier with another mortgage, but then obtained a new, post-purchase mortgage which is the one that was foreclosed.  The following list shows the dates and amounts of the mortgages, followed by the dates and amounts of the purchase deeds:

  • ·         2003 mortgage of $215,000; 1998 deed of $158,000
  • ·        2004 mortgage of $252,000; 2003 deed of $265,000
  • ·        2005 mortgage of $185,000; 1999 deed of $97,000
  • ·        2005 mortgage of $280,000; 2001 deed of $305,000
  • ·        2005 mortgage of $222,000; 2004 deed of $278,000
  • ·        2007 mortgage of $389,000; 2005 deed of $360,000
  • ·        2007 mortgage of $339,000; 1996 deed of $153,500
  • ·        2009 mortgage of $348,000; 2004 deed of $175,000

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Mid Year Recording Statistics

Here are some recording statistics for certain types of documents for the first half of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014:

Deeds were down 1%, dropping from 3045 in 2014 to 3018 in 2015;

Mortgages were up 38%, rising from 3948 in 2014 to 5434 in 2015;

Foreclosure deeds were up 26%, rising from 68 to 86;

Orders of notice were up 21%, rising from 153 to 185;

Total documents were up 13%, rising from 24973 in the first half of 2014 to 28249 in the first half of 2015.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

June recording statistics

There were some positive signs for the housing market in our June recording statistics.  When compared to the recording numbers from June 2014:

Deed were up 20% (640 in June 2014 to 769 in June 2015);

Mortgages were up 35% (910 in June 2014 to 1212 in June 2015);

Foreclosure deeds were up 220% (5 to 16);

Orders of notice were up 54% (29 to 31);

Total documents were up 32% (5095 in June 2014 to 6708 in June 2015).

While the increases in foreclosure deeds and orders of notice would be troubling if just the percentage increases were considered, the overall number is still low so it is less troublesome.  At some point I'll take a closer look in a future blog post at these June 2015 foreclosures and determine when the mortgages being foreclosed originated.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Independence Day schedule at the Registry of Deeds

The Middlesex North Registry of Deeds will be open for business on Friday July 3, 2015 and on Monday July 6, 2015 for normal hours.

State law mandates that when a holiday falls on a Sunday, state offices will be closed on that Monday to recognition of the holiday.  The same is not the case when a holiday falls on Saturdays.  When a holiday falls on a Saturday as is the case with the 4th of July this year, government offices do not close on the preceding Friday (or the following Monday).  They remain open on both and employees are granted a floating holiday.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Recording statistics for May

Here are the number of various document types recorded in May 2015 compared to the numbers from the same month last year:

Deeds: There was a 12% decline in the number of deeds recorded, dropping from 572 in May 2014 to 502 in May 2015.

Mortgages: There was a 24% increase in the number of mortgages, rising from 722 in May 2014 to 895 in May 2015.

Foreclosure Deeds: There as a 100% increase in the number of foreclosure deeds, rising from 12 in May 2014 to 24 in May 2015.

Orders of Notice: There was a 7% increase in the number of orders of notice, rising from 29 in May 2014 to 31 in May 2015.

Total Documents: There was a 4% increase in the total number of documents recorded, rising from 4464 in May 2014 to 4643 in May 2015.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

SJC addresses bankruptcy and real estate liens

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a decision released today clarified the effect of bankruptcy on an existing judicial lien on the debtor's real estate.  The Court held in Christakis v Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union, that unless the bankruptcy court expressly excludes such a lien, the lien survives the discharge in bankruptcy of the debtor.  The court reasoned that Federal bankruptcy law erases the personal liability of the debtor for the debt but it does not automatically erase the liability against the real property that was created when, as in this case, an Execution was recorded against the debtor's property.  So, while creditors cannot pursue any collection activities against a debtor who has been discharged in bankruptcy, the creditor can pursue the sale of the debtor's present or former real property that was encumbered pre-bankruptcy filing with a judicial lien such as an attachment or execution.

Congratulations to Lowell attorney Sandra Boulay who represented Jeanne D'Arc before the SJC.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

April recording statistics

Recording statistics for April show some positive trends when compared to April of 2014.  Here are the numbers for the entire registry district:

There were 532 deeds recorded in April 2015, a 7% increase over the 497 recorded in April 2014;

There were 993 mortgages recorded, a 48% increase over the 497 recorded last April;

There were 20 foreclosure deeds, a 43% increase over the 14 recorded last April;

There were 30 orders of notice, a 21% decrease from the 38 recorded last April;

There were 4946 documents recorded; a 17% increase from the 4227 recorded last April.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Patriot's Day

The Registry of Deeds will be closed on Monday, April 21, 2015 in recognition of the Patriot's Day holiday.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Big Data's Big Dig"

That's what the Boston Globe called the 19-year, $75 million effort of the Massachusetts Trial Court to computerize its operations.  A story in the Sunday, April 12, 2015 Globe reviewed the trajectory of that undertaking.  While some progress has been made, much is left to be done.

Although the various registries of deeds in Massachusetts have done a pretty good job of computerizing operations (the Middlesex North Registry, for example, has every record from 1629 to the present freely available to the public on our website and receives more than 40% of its new recordings electronically), many government offices seem slow to automate operations.  I suspect that many businesses have similar problems, only a business faces less public scrutiny than does a government office so we hear more about failures in the public sector.

My theory for this technology tardiness is that many of the people still in charge are from the pre-computer era and lack a reasonable amount of aptitude when it comes to technology.  In such cases, too much is left to the IT people who, while they may understand technology, might not fully grasp the entire operation of the enterprise.  Computers are, after all, just another tool for a company or government office.  Unless they are integrated into normal operations, they will never be used to their full potential.  Fortunately, this situation does have a limited life-span.  As people who have grown up with computers ascend to top leadership positions, this upper management digital divide will become very rare.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Electronic Recording Volume

The month of March continued our streak of electronic recording volume in excess of 40% of all recordings.  Electronically recorded documents accounted for 44% of all recordings in January, 47% in February, and 42% in March.  Of the 4796 documents recorded in March, 2007 were recorded electronically.  That works out to a daily average of 91 electronic documents to 127 walk-ins or mail-ins.

For the 1st quarter of 2015, we recorded a total of 11,610 documents by all methods; 5108 of them were recorded electronically which is 44%.  Discharges accounted for 1177 of the electronic documents; deeds 462, mortgages 1484, and all other types 1985. 

From all sources we recorded 1215 deeds during that time period .  The 462 that were recorded electronically represent 38% of the total.  Mortgages were much more likely to be recorded electronically: 1484 of 2334 (64%) mortgages recorded came to us electronically. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Some Relief for Purchasers of Previously Foreclosed Homes

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo that will provide people who bought previously foreclosed homes that are now recognized to have title defects due to missing or late pre-foreclosure assignments with assistance in clearing those defects.

The following is from a release on the AGO's website:

In 2011, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General brought suit against the banks for allegedly violating the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (G.L. c. 93A, §§ 2 and 4) by foreclosing on homes before receiving an assignment of the mortgage. Under Massachusetts law, a bank, or other foreclosing entity, must strictly comply with the state’s foreclosure laws in order to transfer the ownership of a property through foreclosure. When a party conducting a foreclosure does not strictly follow the foreclosure laws, the foreclosure is “void.”  People who purchase properties after a void foreclosure may have a title defect that could prevent them from refinancing their mortgage or selling the property.
The settlement provides a hierarchy of assistance to be extended to the "downstream purchaser" of these properties by the lender that did the foreclosure.  Some of the options include assistance with making claims against title insurance, with obtaining a deed from the original mortgagor, or with redoing the foreclosure.  This only applies to the four lenders who were parties to this settlement, but they did many foreclosures in Massachusetts so it should provide some assistance to homeowners.  How effective these measures will be remains to be seen.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Taking data hostage

Today's Globe has a story about how computer hackers were able to insert a virus into the computer system of the nearby Tewksbury Police Department and lockup all of the department's computer files.  The article reports that neither the state police nor the FBI were able to crack the virus and, because the department's backup tapes were similarly infected, Tewksbury ended up paying a ransom of $500 and got its data back.

Stories like this reinforce my opinion that it's critical for registries of deeds to continue creating microfilm of recorded documents.  Many scoff at the idea of microfilm, saying it's an obsolete technology but if properly created and stored, it lasts a long time.  While microfilm does have some vulnerabilities, computer viruses aren't among them. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

Sufficiency of property description in a mortgage

A query from a major national lender recently found its way to me.  Here's the question posed:

Must a Schedule A (property description) be attached to a mortgage to be recorded?  Do most registries require the metes and bounds information as a separate attachment?  If so, must it be freshly typed or can it be a legible copy from a previously recorded document?  Or, is it sufficient to just add the property address, property tax ID number and deed book and page information to the mortgage?

Here is my answer:

There is no specific rule on what constitutes the minimum property description for recordability.  In Massachusetts, a mortgage is a deed so the rules for deeds apply to mortgages.  The property description in a deed must “describe the land [being conveyed] with such particularity as to make it capable of identification.” 

I think the property address plus the book and page of the deed that established title in the seller/borrower with some contextual language would be the bare minimum required.  Something like "Property description: The land and buildings located at 360 Gorham Street in Lowell, Middlesex County, described more fully in the deed from Middlesex County to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dated June 27, 1997 and recorded in the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds at book 12345, page 321.”

I think the better practice is to include the full property description from that deed in the new mortgage.  Whether that is done by inserting that language in the body of the mortgage or attaching it as an Exhibit A, including that full description helps eliminate any potential ambiguities plus it is probably considered by many (lawyers and registry employees) to be a requirement.  While I don’t think it is a requirement, the potential hassles involved in convincing people the shorter description is sufficient probably outweighs any time savings in dispensing with it when the document is first created.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

March recording statistics

The end of March recording statistics have some good news.  Total document recordings and mortgages are both up substantially over the number recorded in March 2014.  Here are the numbers for the four major document types that we track:

Deeds - no change - 484 in March 2014 vs 483 in March 2015

Mortgages - up 66% - 593 in March 2014 vs 982 in March 2015

Foreclosure Deeds - up 60% - 10 in March 2014 vs 16 in March 2015

Orders of Notice - up 26% - 19 in March 2014 vs 24 in March 2015

Total documents - up 23% - 3886 in March 2014 vs 4796 in March 2015

Monday, March 09, 2015

Electronic Recording Update

Snowy weather must be conducive to electronic recording.  For 2014, 38% of all documents recorded at Middlesex North came through electronic recording (the same percentage as in 2013).  For January 2015, however, that number rose to 44% and in February, it hit 47%.  Not only were there many days of snow during this period but the residue piled in banks along the streets has made parking a challenge ever since the first big snowstorm.  Given these circumstances, being able to record from the relative comfort of one's own office seems like a good enough incentive to shift to electronic recording.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding "condo docs" online

We've received a number of phone calls at the registry of deeds from individuals who own condominiums that have been damaged by water infiltrating their units from melting snow.  While this unfortunate condition affects homeowners of all types, condominium units have an added complication from the nature of a condominium.

When a condominium is established, each unit within the building is owned outright by an individual.  Common areas such as the roof, the entryway and the parking area are owned in common by all of the unit owners.  The association of condominium owners is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these common areas.  Insurance coverage is similarly split.  The association obtains insurance for common areas and individuals obtain insurance for their units. 

The people calling us have made claims for property damage to their units against their own insurers.  Those insurers have pushed back, asking for some documentation that establishes where the common areas end and the individual units begin. So called condo docs are most likely to do delineate this boundary (although as is often the case with legal matters, something that seems clear might be anything but).

So what are "condo docs"?  Massachusetts General Laws chapter 183A governs condominiums.  It says that the owner may designate a building to be a condominium by recording a document called a Master Deed.  That's probably an unfortunate term because unlike most other deeds, a Master Deed does not convey an interest in the property from one person to another.  Instead, it deals with the usage of the property.  The Master Deed identifies and delineates - usually with a floor plan - the dimensions and location of each individual condominium unit.  The Master Deed also designates what percentage of the common areas attributable to each unit.  for example, if a condominium consists of four equally sized units, each unit would own 25% of the common areas.

The second "condo docs" is usually the Declaration of Trust that creates the condo association.  This document also sets out all the procedural rules to be followed by the condo association such as electing trustees and other administrative functions.  Sometimes the Declaration of Trust is embedded within the Master Deed so there's only a single document. 

Unfortunately, both the Master Deed and Declaration of Trust are lengthy documents.  This is unfortunate because if you come to the registry of deeds to obtain a copy, we're obligated by statute to charge you $1 per page.  However, if you download and print the documents from our website, you can do it for free.

To find condo docs on our website, go to and select "search land records" in the yellow box in the middle of the page.  When the search window appears, type the name of the condominium in the "last name" field.  For example, if you live in the Sunny Acres Condominium, just type SUNNY ACRES and click "search."  From the results retrieved, scroll down the "document type" column looking for Master Deed and Declaration of Trust.  Once you've found them, follow the on-screen instructions to display the image.  Rather than print the image directly from the site, we recommend using the "basket" function to download the entire document in a PDF format which is easier to store, email or print.

If you have any questions about locating condominium documents, send us an email at


Monday, February 09, 2015

Registry of Deeds closed on Tuesday

The Trial Court has closed all courts in Middlesex County (among others) for tomorrow, so the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds will be closed for the day. 

Here's the full announcement from the Trial Court:

Closure and Delay Information for Tuesday 2/10

Last updated at February 09, 2015 06:40 PM
Based on varying conditions across the state, Massachusetts courts will operate as follows on Tuesday,  February 10th :

Courts in Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket Counties, and in the four western counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire, will open regular hours.

In Bristol, Plymouth, and Worcester Counties, courts will delay opening until 10 a.m.

And in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk Counties, courts will be closed in accordance with Governor Baker's statement of emergency conditions and the lack of public transportation in those areas.

Registry of Deeds closed due to snow

Last evening the Massachusetts Trial Court announced that all courts in the state except those on the Cape and Islands would be closed all day today due to the ongoing snowstorm.  As is always the case, when the courts close, the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds closes also.  Given the forecast, we expect to be open for business on Tuesday.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Lowell: The Hottest Town in Massachusetts?

A report on CBS Boston yesterday listed Lowell as the hottest town in Massachusetts in terms of an increase in volume of home sales from 2013 to 2014.  The basis of that headline was a report issued by McGeough Lamacchia Realty Inc which said this about Lowell:

Lowell tops our list with 955 home sales for 2014, an increase of 9.5% compared to 2013 when there were 864 sales. Lowell is an affordable place to live with a median price for a home at $202,000, an increase of 6.3% compared to 2013. Lowell is a busy community located in Middlesex County at the intersections of Routes 3 and 495, making it an excellent commuter location. It’s just 45 minutes by car to Worcester, roughly an hour and a half to both Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island, and 45 minutes to Boston. Lowell has open recreational space and parks, as well as cultural attractions such as events taking place at the Tsongas Center on the UMass Lowell campus in-town. The population of Lowell is 108,522, an increase of 1.7% since 2000. The residential tax rate in Lowell is $15.48 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Our own statistics from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds do show an increase in the number of deeds for consideration (as opposed to deeds for no consideration) recorded.  In 2013, there were 1125 deeds recorded for property in Lowell with consideration greater than $49,999 and less than $750,000.  In 2014, there were 1187 that met that criteria, an increase of 6%.  That doesn't meet the 9.5% increase found by the realtors, but that might be because they were counting the sale of "homes" while registry records, which don't distinguish based on the use of the property, would have included commercial property sales as well.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

Since we began writing this blog back in 2003, we've made a point of doing at least one post devoted to each professional sports championship won by a Boston team.  On this past Sunday, February 1, 2015, the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX beating the Seattle Seahawk 28-24 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory with a wild finish.  The game was tied 14-14 at halftime with Seattle scoring after getting the ball back with just 29 seconds to go in the half.  Seattle got the ball to start the second half and scored a field goal and a touchdown to go up by 10 points in the third quarter.  But in the fourth quarter, the Patriots scored twice on Tom Brady passes.  Seattle got the ball back with just over 2 minutes to play.  With one pass they were at midfield.  The next pass went down near the goal line.  The Patriot’s cornerback seemed to tip the ball but when the receiver fell to the ground on his back, the ball bounced off his leg, then his stomach and while lying flat, he grabbed it.  A miracle catch, just like the one made by the New York Giants in an earlier Super Bowl against the Patriots.  On the next play, with just over a minute left, Seattle ran the ball from the five to the one yard line.  After the clock ticked down and a timeout, it was second down with just 29 seconds to go and Seattle tried a slant pass but Malcolm Butler, the same Patriot who was the victim of the miracle catch just moments earlier and a rookie undrafted free agent, stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the ball with just 22 seconds to go.  The Patriots won and Seattle’s coach Pete Carroll is being blamed for making the most egregious mistake in football history for passing instead of running.  The Patriots flew back to Boston from Phoenix on Monday night and had a "rolling rally" victory parade of Duck Boats today in Boston. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Top Sales of 2014

Here are the top five sales, measured by the consideration stated on the deed, that took place in the Middlesex North District during 2014:

  1. 900 Chelmsford St, Lowell -  Cross Point Limited Partnership to CP Associates LLC for $100 million
  2. 300 Apollo Dr, Chelmsford - USAA Real Estate Co to TFG Apollo Drive Property LLC for $39.4 million
  3. 499 Boston Rd, Billerica - PH Henbil LLC to Boston Road LLC for $35.5 million
  4. 10 Burlington Ave, Wilmington - EAF Wilmington Station LLC to SCG Metro at Wilmington Station LLC for $29.8 million
  5. 1 Technology Dr, Chelmsford - PH Henchelm LLC to Chelmsford Commons LLC for $22 million.
All ten communities in the Middlesex North District had at least one million dollar sale.  Here is a listing of the towns and the number of million dollar sales that took place in each:

  1. Carlisle - 22
  2. Lowell - 14
  3. Billerica - 11
  4. Chelmsford - 11
  5. Tewksbury - 11
  6. Westford - 7
  7. Wilmington - 6
  8. Dunstable - 1
  9. Tyngsborough - 1

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Registry reopens after blizzard

The Middlesex North Registry of Deeds reopened this morning after being closed for two days due to the recent blizzard.  Snow began falling in Lowell on Monday night and continued through to Tuesday night, leaving 33 inches by the time it ended.

Because the registry is located in the Superior Courthouse in Lowell, when the court is closed, we must also close.  By late Monday afternoon, the Administrative Office of the Trial Court had announced that all courts in the Commonwealth would be closed all day Tuesday and on Tuesday night, it announced that all courts but those in the four western counties (Berkshire, Hamden, Hampshire and Franklin) would remain closed on Wednesday.  As far as I can tell, all courts are open today.

School was cancelled in Lowell today, however, which made it easier to get to work.  Parking is a challenge, especially since the city of Lowell's onstreet parking ban remains in effect.

More snow is forecast for this evening, but it seems like it will be more of a nuisance than an impediment.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Registry of Deeds closed on Wednesday

The Middlesex North Registry of Deeds will be closed all day tomorrow, January 28, 2015, due to the blizzard.  The registry will reopen on Thursday.  All courts in Middlesex County are also closed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Registry of Deeds closed Tuesday due to storm

The Middlesex North Registry of Deeds will be closed all day on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 due to the impending blizzard. 

No decision has been made about Wednesday.  Check back to this site tomorrow and Wednesday morning to get updates on our operational status.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy Anniversary . . . to me?

Yesterday was my 20th anniversary as Register of Deeds of the Middlesex North District.  It was on January 5, 1995 that I took the oath of office for the first time.  My tenure has passed so quickly that the actual anniversary date slid by unnoticed. 

Due primarily to the information revolution that has coincided with my time as register, the changes in operations from 1995 to now have been substantial: no more books, everything available on the internet and electronic recording are some of the biggest changes. 

The change process is far from over.  This is the registry's 160th year of existence and all of them have been spent at this same location, but when the new judicial center opens in Lowell (hopefully in 2018) the registry will move into it.  Technical changes are also on the horizon.  These include linking registry records to those of the local assessors to provide true one-stop-shopping for land-related information.  Electronic recording which now accounts for nearly 40% of our incoming documents will continue to grow with municipalities likely to embrace the technology as a means of filing documents such as tax takings and lien certificates in the next year or two.  Electronic signatures and notarizations should also become a reality during the same time.  Even registered land recordings could find their way into the electronic recording process.  There is much to be done in the coming years.