Wednesday, June 30, 2004

As mentioned before, June 30 is one of the busiest days of the year at the registry. So... as Polonius said to King Claudius(you remember...he was Hamlet's father/Uncle), "Since brevity is the soul of wit, I shall be brief"...The lights shall not burn, nor the doors be unlatched on the 5th day of July at fond registry of deeds... In other words... we are closed on Monday. I guess that's brief enough even for Shakespeare.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Yesterday we set up a recording terminal in our Customer Service Department. The terminal was formerly being used by the Middlesex South Pilot Office to produce Excise Stamps. Since the installation of the ACS system in Cambridge, the Pilot Office’s recording terminals are all capable of producing their own stamps. The new Customer Service terminal will be used to record Homesteads and Mortgage Discharges for walk in customers. Our objective is to make things easier and less confusing for those who are unfamiliar with the registry. This is the present procedure: a person comes to our Customer Service Department and fills out a Homestead form. We then send them to the Recording Counter to complete the transaction. Sounds simple…Well I’ll bet those of you who regularly frequent the registry have seen different. I remember the “registry” confusion I experienced before becoming an employee. I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I stared down the barrel of a full loaded recording terminal. I have been here for almost ten years now and still get a little nervous when I get near one. It’s true. If you don’t know the registry it “is” very intimidating. Hopefully, this new Customer Service terminal will eliminate this problem. It will allow, “one stop shopping” for the average consumer. In addition it can be used on busy days as an express terminal. This would minimize the wait for a person with only one document.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The relative quiet we have recently seen at the registry of deeds is about to change. I think next week will be very busy. June 30th, which is the last day of the fiscal year, is one of our busiest days(let's see that's Wednesday). And the first business day of "every month" is always busy(Thursday). And let's not forget that the 4th of July falls on a Sunday this year, which means we will be closed on Monday, July 5th. A long weekend...perfect for moving...that means July 2 will be hopping(Friday). Wednesday, Thursday, Friday...busy, busy, busy...sounds like a good week for my air cushioned shoes. I'm ready for it. My father used to tell me..."hard work is good for you"...easy for him to say he retired at age 50.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Community Preservation Act, more commonly known as CPA, was signed into law in September 2000. The law authorizes communities to establish a CPA fund by applying a surcharge to their local property tax. The revenue collected by the community is matched by the state. The state's funds come from a $20.00 surcharge paid on most documents filed at the Registry of Deeds. CPA funds can only be used for Historic Preservation, Affordable Housing and to purchase Open Space. Even four years after its enactment, some communities are just now beginning to consider it. Currently, 65 of Massachusetts' 351 communities has opted to participate in CPA. There are nine additional communities scheduled to vote on CPA in 2004, including Concord and Groton in our area. Tewksbury officials have also begun to discuss whether they should bring the option to voters. This year's refinancing slow down has caused a sharp reduction in the number of documents being recorded at the registry of deeds, which obviously affects the registry's CPA contribution. In spite of the slow down, if our recording pace for the second half of 2004 matches the first, we will record 30% more documents than in 2000, the year the Community Preservation Act was signed into law.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Registry of Deeds can be an interesting and helpful place for the average person. Some people are interested in researching the history of their home. Others simply want to know the sale prices of property in their neighborhood. Most of this can be done on our website ( Still, some people just prefer to come in. Our Customer Service Department has been very successful in directing people to find what they need. I would guess that between phone calls and walk-ins we service approximately one hundred inquiries a day. This volume is very helpful. This one on one contact provides information that is used to help make us a "user friendly" registry. But, I am rambling. The point is...if you have a question... call, or if you have a suggestion... make it. We will listen.

Monday, June 21, 2004

On Wednesday June 23, a group of some twenty women are coming to the Superior Courthouse. Their visit is part of a program called "Learning in Retirement". I will give them a tour of the building with special attention paid to the Daniel WebsterCourt Room on the second floor. I have also retrieved from the basement some old items for display. These semi-antiques were used by registry employees in the past to record documents (no, not the Wang computer system). My favorite is a bottle of "Recording Ink" certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Edward J Cronin, in 1899. Entries made in the registry's indexes could only be made using this "certified ink". Printed on the bottle's label is the following: "manufactured and furnished under the provisions of Chp 66. sec 2 of the General Laws." I was pretty excited when I discovered it a few years ago. Hopefully, my guests will share my excitement. I will keep you informed.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Last night's "Chronicle" TV show was very interesting. It focused on the real estate market in Massachusetts.
Our registry's statistics confirm what was reported regarding pricing. Very simply, home prices continue to rise. Interestingly, Lowell's prices are increasing as young people find the city more affordable than its surrounding suburban communities. Simultaneously, the suburbs are running out of land forcing housing prices even higher in those communities. Of course, the question becomes where will it end? I remember when I bought my first house. My father cautioned me, "are you sure you are not overpaying for this house?" Dad I replied, "it has 10 rooms, 2.5 baths, a fireplace and is on a cul-de-sac." "I don't know", he answered, "$60,000 sounds like highway robbery?"

Monday, June 14, 2004

Last week I asked blog readers to offer suggestions on how to improve our website. One respondent urged us to add an easy-to-follow section that would take the first time user through a trip to the registry of deeds. It was an excellent suggestion. We're already working on implementing it. Working at the registry everyday, dealing primarily with lawyers and title examiners who use the registry every day, we run the risk of forgetting what a confusing place the Registry of Deeds can be for the casual user who visits once or twice in a lifetime. The website is a perfect place to put such an orientation. Thanks for the suggestions.

Friday, June 11, 2004

As a service to homeowners we have begun mailing certified copies of their recently recorded deeds to them. Included with the deed is a letter directing homeowners to our website ( if they wish to find other documents related to their property. The website also contains information on the Declaration of Homestead as well as a printable form. This project will be handled by our Customer Service Department. Of course, regardless of recording date, if anyone needs a copy of their own deed, we will be more than happy to mail it to them. Simply call our Customer Service department (978-322-9000).

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Registry of Deeds will be open on Friday, June 11. Unfortunately, the various tributes to President Reagan have caused much confusion for registry users. Friday is a Federal holiday (post offices are closed and there is no mail delivery) and Governor Romney has decreed that state offices under the Executive Branch will be closed as well. But the registry falls within the Secretary of State's office and since Secretary Galvin (like the state treasurer and attorney general) holds an independent elected office created by the state constitution, the governor's decrees do not control registry operations. Of course, if the Trial Court closes all courts - which is NOT the case on Friday - the public will not have access to the building that houses the Registry of Deeds so we would have to close, too. Although no one's asked, next Thursday (June 17) is Bunker Hill Day. We are open that day. Customers are also asking us questions about Monday, July 5, which is when the Fourth of July is officially celebrated. We WILL be closed on July 5. So to repeat, we are open on Friday, June 11 (Day of Mourning for Ronald Reagan), open on Thursday June 17 (Bunker Hill Day), but closed on Monday July 5 (Fourth of July).

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

We're about to make some modifications to our webpage. Some of the features like the Bulletin Board don't seem to have caught on right now. The chat room worked OK with regularly scheduled sessions on Friday afternoons, but then we had a couple of consecutive very busy Fridays and weren't able to host the chats. We will keep the chat room as an available option, but we're going to rethink how to use it. The new look of the website is still in the design stage, but if any blog readers have suggestions on how to improve the website, please send me an email with your suggestions.

Monday, June 07, 2004

We've started to receive a number of phone calls asking if the Registry will remain open on Friday even though that day has been declared a national day of mourning in honor of President Reagan. We have received an answer from the Secretary of State's office - all state registries will remain open all day on Friday, June 11 despite the sad occasion. The flags at the courthouse have already been lowered to half staff.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

We're starting to get regular requests for "lists of foreclosures in progress." We take that to mean a collection of Orders of Notice filed during a particular time period. As most of you know, a lender must get the court's permission to proceed with the foreclosure. Part of that court procedure involves the issuance of an Order of Notice, a copy of which gets recorded at the registry. (Believe it or not, the only issue for the court is whether the debtor is serving in the military and therefore entitled to additional protection). Just because an Order of Notice gets recorded, there's no guarantee that the foreclosure will follow. The debtor may sell the property or find some other way to bring the loan current or pay it off. We do provide these types of reports. They must be picked up at the registry and are not available online (yet). The charge is $1 per page. About six entries appear on each page. We are working on a way to post these reports on our website, much like we do with our monthly sales data.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Over the past few months, a number of online registry users have reported difficulty reaching the "search records" portion of our website using the link from the main webpage (the link says "Search Land Records"). When these users click on that link, they move to a blank screen, never reaching the portion of the site that allows you to search our database. When these same users go to, however, they are able to load the Middlesex North search screen and access our database. Since most people don't experience this problem, I assume it's related to the type of browser that the individual user has on his computer. Still, several people each day report this problem, so it's not a minor issue. I've reported it to our computer company, but it seems that they can barely keep the website operational regardless of the route one takes to reach it, so I'm not optimistic that they'll be of much help with this one. If anyone has any theories on what might be causing this, please let me know.