Friday, September 30, 2011

New MassLandRecords: Registered Land

The new becomes the default search site over the weekend.  You'll still be able to click into the old version, but that will only be available until January 2012.  The following is some info about the Registered Land search options on the new version.

Like any other search, you begin by positioning the cursor over the "Seach Criteria" link on the upper menu bar. The choices for Registered Land are:

  • Name Search
  • Book Search
  • Certificate Search
  • Document Search
  • Property Search
  • Recorded Date Search
 Name Search and Property Search work similarly to those functions in Recorded Land (which I wrote about HERE).  Certificate Search is unique to the Registered Land application and is very useful when you already have the certificate number.  It starts with a drop down menu for certificate types - blank means a normal certificate, "c" means a condominium certificate and "u" means a unit certificate.  Most of the time you'll just leave that field blank.  Then enter the certificate number and click "search."

All documents related to that certificate are returned as a result of that search.  Click on any one of the documents to highlight it and then look to the right hand window of your computer screen.  There are four options.  The first (and default) is "View Details" which gives you all of the data about the document.  The second tab is "View Images" which allows you to see the scanned image of the document you highlighted.  The third tab is "View Certificate" which allows you to see the body of the certificate.  The fourth and final tab is "View Encumbrances" which presents the entries on the memoranda of encumbrances that are found within the computer system.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Plans on the new MassLandRecords

Sometime over this coming weekend, the new version of will become the default landing spot when you visit that site.  The "old" version will still be available, but you will have to specifically click on a link to reach it and that will only be there until January 1, 2012 when it will be completely discontinued.

In a blog post last week, I offered some guidance on different ways to search for Recorded Land documents.  Today, I'll write about finding Recorded Land Plans:

Start by moving your cursor over the "search criteria" item on the upper menu bar.  That opens a window that contains all search options.  Recorded Land Plans, simply labelled Plans, has six options

  • Name Search
  • Book (Year) Search
  • Document Search
  • Property Search
  • Recorded Date Search
  • Unindexed Property Search
The surest way to retrieve a plan is by its Plan Book and Plan number.  If you know these numbers, use the Book (Year) Search option.  The easiest way to find the Plan Book and Plan numbers is reading the deed or other document that contains a property description.  If the parcel described is depicted on a plan someplace, it should be cited in there in the property description section of the document. 

The plan index's Name Search and Property Search functions are not all that helpful because both are added to the index early in the parcel's development history.  For example, the Name placed in the index will be of the person for whom the plan was prepared, assuming that's mentioned in the caption of the plan.  That could be the XYZ Construction Company, for example, which would be a name way back in the property's chain of ownership and not one you would immediately search for.  The Property Search function suffers from another problem.  When a plan is recorded, we enter into this field the names of any streets depicted on the plan.  Because subdivision plans are typically recorded before anything is built on the property, the numbering of the lots depicted on the plan has nothing to do with the number that becomes part of the street address of the property.  If you're interested in 700 Main Street, for example, it's unlikely there will be any "700" in the index.  The best you can do is search for plans for MAIN ST which might yield a dozen or more.  Often you have to look through them all to find the one relevant to your search.

Recorded Date Search might have some utility if your deed refers to a "plan recorded herewith" but that doesn't give you the Plan Book and Plan number.  In that case, just ascertain the date that the document was recorded then switch to this part of the plan index and make the search just that day, or a range of few days on either side of that day.  The resulting set should include the plan of interest to you.

In a future post, I'll review some of the nuances of the system such as how to retrieve "M Plans" and other issues that arise outside the standard plans discussed above.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who is Larry Ellison?

Technology is a money maker...and many technology makers make a lot of money.

Of all the fortunes made in technology, Bill Gates made the largest. Once again Forbes 400 ranked the Microsoft founder the richest man in America.

How rich is Gates? He is $59 billion rich.

Sure most of us have heard of Bill Gates...but in the background is another technology maker worth billions of dollars also. That man is Larry Ellison the third richest man in America.


Larry Ellison is the founder and CEO of Oracle. Oracle is a powerful database system used by large companies including the government. According to Forbes 400, Ellison's net worth is $33 billion.

Ellison grew up on Chicago's north side. After he graduated from high school, he attended the University of Illinois but left before earning his degree to pursue his love of computer design.

In 1979 he founded Oracle and as they say, the rest is history...For the first seven years of its existence Oracle doubled in size every year, taking Ellison rapidly from millionaire status to a billionaire.

Ellison is very different from billionaire Gates. He leads a flamboyant lifestyle...

Ellison has been married four times, owns a $200 million yacht, owns numerous exotic cars, built a home worth $110 million and is a licensed pilot...AND he participated in winning the America's Cup in 2010.

When you think about it, this techie billionaire is not really less known because he is the third richest man in America as opposed to the first.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Four Techie Briefs

Here are my four most interesting techie briefs for today:

Apple iPhone 5 will be revealed to the public on October 4 and according to everything I'm reading it won't be much different than iPhone 4...accept, and this is big, the new iPhone will run on Apple's A5 Chip which is much faster than its predecessor.

Google's new social networking service, google plus saw a huge 120o% spike in users last week. Of course, much of this increase can be attributed to the fact that last week was the first week the service was offered beyond invitation only.

There is another supposed "iPad killer" coming out. This time its Amazon trying and toppled the Apple giant. Amazon's new tablet, which is scheduled to hit the market September 28, is called the Fire. Why do some people think Fire may be THE iPad killer? Price!...rumors has it Amazon's tablet will hit the market for under $300, nearly half the price of the iPad 2.

And finally, the worlds largest internet search engine, google, turns thirteen today. Happy Birthday to a company that is changing the world.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Changes coming to Mass probate law

Over the weekend I spoke with an attorney who had attended a seminar on major changes that are coming to Massachusetts probate law in 2012.  Surprisingly, this was the first I've heard of these changes which have apparently already been enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor.  I found THIS WEBSITE which contains the Massachusetts version of the Uniform Probate Code which I believe is the basis of the relevant statutory amendments.  While these changes will have a greater impact on the registry of probate than on the registry of deeds, quite a lot of real estate changes hands through probate proceedings and so we'll have to fully understand the new law and its implications for us.

One new feature that will have a direct effect on the registry of deeds is something called a "deed of distribution."  For a century or more, the documentary evidence of a change of ownership occasioned by a death has been the papers of the probate estate.  Beginning in 2012, however, the personal representative of the estate (formerly called the executor or the administrator) will execute a document called a deed of distribution that will serve as evidence of the new owner's title.  Presumably, that deed will have to be recorded here at the registry of deeds.

Here are two sections of the Uniform Probate Code that directly address this issue:

Section 3-907. [Distribution in Kind;  Evidence.]
If distribution in kind is made, the personal representative shall execute an instrument or deed of distribution assigning, transferring or releasing the assets to the distributee as evidence of the distributee’s title to the property.

Section 3-908. [Distribution;  Right or Title of Distributee.]
Proof that a distributee has received an instrument or deed of distribution of assets in kind, or payment in distribution, from a personal representative, is conclusive evidence that the distributee has succeeded to the interest of the estate in the distributed assets, as against all persons interested in the estate, except that the personal representative may recover the assets or their value if the distribution was improper.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Passports and the Registry of Deeds

Several years ago the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds became a passport acceptance facility for the US State Department.  Several of us went through the necessary training to become passport acceptance agents.  As such, we were authorized to accept applications for new and renewed passports which we would transmit to a central facility for processing. 

Being the entry-point for passports carries much responsibility.  While the overwhelming majority of those filing applications are doing so for legitimate purposes, instances of fraud and wrong doing do exist and the consequences of a fraudulent passport being issued could be extremely serious.  For that reason, the Passport Bureau provides excellent and intense training to its agents and oversees operations very closely.  Those of us authorized to handle passport matters all took the training and all required refresher courses.  It was time consuming but very interesting.

Through the years, however, the number of customers who used our passport service never grew very much, certainly not enough to justify the time we devote to staying current on providing the service.  I think that's mostly due to the fine service provided by the Lowell Post Office's passport office which handles almost all of the passport business in this city.  For this reason, we have asked the US Passport Office to withdraw the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds from its list of authorized passport agents and are now out of the passport business. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Boston Globe on refinancings

A story by Jenifer McKim on the front page of today's Boston Globe explores all the reasons why so many homeowners are unable to take advantage of today's historically low interest rates by refinancing their mortgages.  The two main reasons for this, according to the story, are a decrease on home values and a decrease in income of the borrower.  Listening to the many attorneys who come here to the registry to record documents, I would conclude that a major reason that's only alluded to in the story is a very strict appraisal process that's now in effect.  It sounds as if there are plenty of applications for potential refinancers, but most of those are not consummated making it likely that low-value appraisals are a big cause.  As I've mentioned before, it's too bad that more refinancings cannot occur.  Each presumable would lower the borrower's monthly payment which in turn would inject more money into the economy, making mortgage refinancings a type of low-cost economic stimulus program. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Apple iPhone 5 Coming Oct 4

Finally... Apple has set a date to release the iPhone 5 (my wife needs one, not me).

Well, at least that is what "a source close to the situation" says.

According to the "source close to the situation" (I've heard of him/her before) Apple is unveil its new iPhone on October 4.

AllThingsD (the D stands for digital) reports that the "source close to the situation" claims that Apple is planning a big, big, big event for October 4. And the word is, (from, who else, "the sourse close to the situation") it not a birthday party for Steve Jobs.

And according to "the source", who by the way is close to the situation, Steve Job's replacement CEO Tim Cook will host the big, big, big event on October 4.

But the big question is, should you upgrade if you've own a properly functioning iPhone 3S or 4... the "source close to the situation" says yes! and here is why.

First, the new iPhone 5 will be driven by Apple's super fast A5 Chip which currently powers the iPad 2. Trust me, I've got one (well, my wife does) and this Chip blazes. Apple's new phone also boasts an 8 megapixel camera that produces high quality pictures and videos...And, our friend, the "source close to the situation" says the iPhone 5 is sleeker and more attractive than previous models.

BTW, if you happened to visit an Apple Store on October 4 and bump into "the source close to the situation" tell him/her I said, hi.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Navigating the "new" masslandrecords

For quite some time, users of have had the option to use the "new" version of the system, but the "old" version remained the search screen.  That will all change on October 1, 2011 when the two versions swap places and the "new" one becomes the default program.  Users will be able to opt to use the old version, but only for 90 days beyond that since the old version will be fully retired on January 1, 2012.  In preparation for these changes, I'm writing a series of posts about the new version.

The default search fields on the new version are a simple LastName - FirstName search.  More search fields (date range, document type, etc) can be easily added by clicking the "Advanced" button to the right of the initial fields.  However, "Name Search" is not the only way to query our records.

Within the "Recorded Land" category of the Search Criteria link (there are three other categories: Registered Land, Plans, and Registered Land Plans), there are nine separate searches.  Here's an explanation of each.

Name Search - described above

Book Search - use this if you have the book and page number of a document, or if you want to see all the documents from a particular book

Document Search - use this if you have a "document number" (a/k/a "instrument number).  When a document is recorded, it is assigned two identifying numbers: (1) a document number and (2) a book and page number.  Today, our system assigns both simultaneously, but prior to 2002, the document number was assigned at the moment of recording and the book and page number was assigned some time later, when the actual book was being compiled.  Sometimes you will just have the document number and not the book and page number.  Please remember that document numbers are assigned sequentially throughout the year so a single document number might refer to multiple documents.  To get the one you want, you will also need the year in which the document was recorded.

Property Search - This permits a search by street, street address, and town.  It has only been since the mid 1990s that addresses were reliably placed in the registry index.  (Title searches are based on owners' names, not property addresses) so searching by address may not be the most effective way to retrieve older documents.  Also, current documents that have varying street numbers pose search problems.  Many properties have addresses such as "12-14 Whipple St" for example.  Yet if you search for "12 Whipple" you won't find documents indexed as "12-14" since that's not what you're asking the computer for. 

Recorded Date Search - This allows you to retrieve all documents recorded during a set period of time and to limit those to a particular document type.  For example, if you were interested in all foreclosure deeds recorded for Lowell during August, this is the search you would use.

Unindexed Property Search - Older documents that do not have a corresponding computerized index may be retrieved here by book and page number.  At this registry, this means documents recorded before 1950 (and in books 1130 and below).  These documents are not available on the "old" version of masslandrecords although they have been available on the lowelldeeds website using the "Books 1 - 2789" link.  On the "new" version, just enter the book and page number of a pre-1950 document in this section to retrieve the image.

Unindexed Pre-1855 Books - This registry was created by the state legislature in 1855.  The first document recorded that year was placed in Book 1.  But documents for the towns in this district had already been recorded in Cambridge for the previous 200 years.  In 1855, all previous documents for the towns in the Middlesex North District were recopied into a new set of books for each of the towns in the district.  Therefore, to retrieve a document from before 1855, you need the book and page number but also the town in which the property was located.

Pre-1976 Grantor Index - The searchable Grantor Index at this Registry reaches back only to 1976 (we are currently re-indexing earlier years but they have not been fully verified) so to find documents recorded before 1976 it is necessary to use the old, paper-based Grantor and Grantee Indexes.  Only the paper versions are no longer available.  Instead, we have scanned those paper versions and make the scanned images of their pages available here.  You can search these pre-1976 indexes just as you would the old grantor and grantee index books, only you do it on the computer.

Pre-1976 Grantee Index - Same as above for Grantor Index

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wall Repair Begins

Over the past few years a water leak damaged several walls on the first floor of the Lowell Superior Courthouse. The leaks occurred predominately where the new/old granite-like building on Gorham Street meets the original building. Over the weekend workers began repairing these walls. This morning I took some pictures of the effected areas for archival purposes. The large patches of wall with exposed brick shows the first phase of the repair.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mid-September statistics

I'll take a break from talking about website features so we can take a peak at mid-month recording statistics for key document types.  From September 1 through Sept 15, 2011, there were 175 deeds recorded, a 3% decrease from the 180 recorded during the same two weeks in 2010.  The number for mortgages fell much more precipitously, dropping 27%, from 605 in 2010 to just 439 so far this month. 

The good news is that foreclosure-related documents are way down.  In the first half of September in 2010, there were 33 foreclosure deeds and 57 orders of notice recorded; so far this month there have been 14 foreclosure deeds and only 13 orders of notice, a drop of 58% for foreclosure deeds and 77% for orders of notice. 

We'll have to watch these foreclosure-related stats very closely.  Lately the mainstream media has been rife with stories about soaring foreclosure rates.  I suspect such stories may be tracked back to the Warren Group which counts the number of new foreclosure petitions being filed in the Land Court.  If these reports are accurate, we should see an uptick in order of notice filings in the coming weeks.  I hope that's not the case, but we'll watch for it and report on it one way or another.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some background on new Masslandrecords

On October 1, 2011, the "new" version of will be the default page that appears when you visit that site.  Users will be able to click into the "old" masslandrecords but that will only be available until January 1, 2012.  For the next few weeks, we'll periodically write about the new version.  Today's topic is why there is a new version in the first place.

This registry was the first in the Commonwealth to utilize the ACS 20/20 Land Records system.  It was deployed here in the summer of 2002 and sequentially rolled out to many other registries after that.  The ACS website, which quickly became known as, arrived in 2003.  Our users, who had become quite comfortable with the in-the-registry Public Access version of the 20/20 system, expressed widespread dissatisfaction with the web version.  The single biggest complaint was that the web version did not have the functionality of the in-house version.  The request was that we make the website more like the in-house search system. 

While I found the web version to be both useful and functional, I also agreed that it would be even better if it could work more like the in-house search system.  Also, after fielding hundreds of calls and emails from infrequent users of the website, it was clear to me that a major obstacle for novice users was the number of data fields presented on the initial search screen.  To many novice users, blank data fields impliedly required data and so they tended to overpopulate their search queries which often eliminated the entries they sought. 

In early 2007, registry representatives met with ACS to discuss a new version of masslandrecords, we asked for two things: (1) to make the web version work more like the in-house 20/20 search system; and (2) to make the initial screen confronting users with a very limited number of fields - just first and last name for instance - in a kind of "basic search" function that would not lead astray novice users, but to provide easily accessible "advance search" features for regular users.

Unfortunately, it took more than two years for the "new" version of masslandrecords to be made available to us and when it finally did become available, its speed of performance was horrendous.  The speed problem took a while to sort out but it was solved and based on months of regular use by me and the other registry employees who have been using it, the speed of the "new" version matches or exceeds the "old" version.

The long delay in fielding the new version had another consequence: the same registry users who had so vehemently complained about the old system when it first came out had, through long usage of it, grown quite fond of it and forgot why they had asked for it to be changed in the first place.

I anxiously await January 1, 2012, the date the "old" version of the system goes away for good.  In my sixteen years here at the registry I have learned that when our customers are given a choice between the familiar and the new the familiar always wins.  But I've also learned that as soon as the "new" becomes the only option, it rapidly becomes familiar as well and the angst and anxiety fade away.  In the meantime, we'll do our best to ease the transition by offering explanations of how the new version works and answering specific questions that arise. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Windows 8

Windows 8 is coming soon. Here is what Microsoft has to say about it...the next generation of Windows, internally code-named "Windows 8," for the first time. Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface. A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.

Below is a sneak preview of the new operating system.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Changes to ""

If you click on the yellow "search" box on, a search window from the Middlesex North section of immediately opens.  At the top of that new page, you now see the following:

Try the New*. This new search will become the default application on October 1, 2011.
The platform for Classic will continue to be available until January 1, 2012, at which time it will no longer be supported.

The "New" masslandrecords made its premature debut about two years ago.  When it was first rolled out it had a number of problems, the most serious of which was unacceptably slow performance.  Those problems have all been fixed, however, and the "new" system has been available to all who opt to use it for nearly a year.  During that time, we here at the registry of used it extensively and find it to the "old" version in almost every respect.

As the above notice makes clear, the "new" version will be the default search program beginning October 1 and will be the only search program as of January 1, 2013.  I urge you to make the switch now and begin using the new version of the site.  There undoubtedly will be a learning curve, but there's no turning back so you might as well get started now.

In the coming days, I'll be writing more about the various functions of the new site and will provide what hopefully will be some helpful hints about its use.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Last month I entered a new world in digital information. My family gave me an e-reader for my birthday. How they knew I wanted one is beyond me...maybe they got the idea when I saw an Ad on TV and screamed "I want one of those!".

Well I got one and I love it. It is lightweight, easy to hold and convenient.
How convenient?

Let me tell you a story...the other night a friend of mine was explaining how he was waiting for a book he had purchased to arrive in the mail. I said, "What, why don't you get an e-reader. You can download a book quickly whenever you want". I took my e-reader out and demonstrated. I picked a book I'd been wanting to read and downloaded it. To be honest I was amazed myself at how fast the book downloaded. The person I was with was shocked..."Are you kidding, you mean now you have your book and can read it? Just like that! And I'm still waiting for the book I want to be mailed to me. Wow".

And me I'm lucky to have an iPhone and an iPad too (more gifts I got with a little hinting). I downloaded my e-reader's App to these and now I can also read my book on these devices. The program even remembers where I left off from device to device.

I know sometimes I get carried away, but I wonder if it is only a matter of time before the printed book succumbs to the electronic page.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

This Sunday is the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that transformed America. In the days following that event, we took some newspaper clippings and made a poster that could be brought out and displayed each year as a reminder of what happened. Here's a sampling of the headlines from the articles we preserved:

  • "US Attacked: Hijacked jets destroy twin towers and hit Pentagon in day of terror" New York Times, September 12, 2001 
  • "Unthinkable: Terror attacks in New York, Washington topple World Trade Center towers, slam Pentagon" Lowell Sun, September 11, 2001 
  • "Victims of the Boston flights" 
  • "Fire Department Learns Cruel Toll: 350 Comrades" 
  • "Entire Nation on High Alert as Security Is Stepped Up" 
  • "Bush leads prayer, visits aid crews; Senate, 98-0, backs use of armed force" New York Times, September 15, 2001 
  • "Entire nation on high alert as security is stepped up" 
  • "US jets pound front-line Taliban" 
  • "2 workers die and 2 are ill at Capital's postal center; inhaled anthrax indicated" 
and much, much more.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Apple after Steve Jobs

Many years ago when I came to the PC v Apple fork in the road, I chose the PC, probably because it was cheaper, used more widely in the business world, and trying to figure out DOS left me nostalgic for my days assigned to a code breaking unit in the Army. More recently, however, I've opted for two revolutionary Apple products, the iPod for my music and the iPad as my PC substitute. Both work very well, are elegantly designed, are a pleasure to use and, compared to the other similar products out there, worth the premium price you pay. Perhaps more revolutionary than the devices themselves, however, is how they employ the Apple iTunes store to make recurring sales to you, first of music and now of content previously printed on paper or recorded on tape. If you think about the disruption that the internet brought first to the music recording industry, then to the newspaper business, and now to book and magazine publishing, you realize that Apple solved the riddle of how to get paid for all that content when delivering it via the internet. Certainly the producers don't get paid as much as they did before, but they were on a trajectory to be put completely out of business so what they have no has to be better for them. All this technological, cultural, and societal change has been guided by Steve Jobs. Now that he's retired, we have to ask whether Apple's track record of innovation will continue or whether it will join the rest of the pack that looks backward more than it looks forward.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Courts to reduce public access

In a sign of these difficult economic times, the Massachusetts Trial Court announced yesterday that it would be curtailing the hours during which many of the state's courts would be accessible to the public, both over the phone and on a walk-in basis. For example, all Probate Courts will stop waiting on customers and stop answering the telephone at 3 pm each day. Similarly, many district courts, including those in Lowell and Lawrence, will cut back on the hours they are open to the public. This does not mean that the court employees will work less time. Instead, they will use the non-public time to catch up on necessary paperwork such as docketing new pleadings and filing papers. Both of these things may seem trivial by themselves, but without them being done in a timely manner, the efficient operation of the courts and all who use them is greatly reduced. There is no comparable measure being considered for the registry of deeds. A down economy may cause an increase in court activity (especially for criminal law and divorce) but it tends to create a lull in the real estate market, so we've been quite capable to keeping up with all new recordings.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Is survival of US mail at risk?

While in Washington this summer I visited one of the lesser known places of the Smithsonian system, the National Postal Museum, which is located right across the street from Union Station. The Postal Museum is small by Smithsonian standards, but it's an amazing place because it succinctly tells the story of the development of the US Postal Service from colonial times until today. Despite it's long history, the USPS faces dire times. A story in this Sunday's New York Times business section reported that unless Congress acts soon, the postal service may have to close entirely some time this winter. With our government's recent track record of difficulty in agreeing to anything, the chances of this shutdown occurring would seem anything but remote. The plight of the post office has two main causes: a drop in the volume of service and a rise in the cost of providing that service, however, diminished. A recent proposal by the Postal Service to pare costs by eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing 3700 post offices, and laying off 120,000 employees (1/5 of the entire workforce) has met with strong opposition from many quarters. While I really doubt that the Postal Service will come to an end, an extended stoppage wouldn't be out of the question and a greatly changed method of operation will likely occur. Much of the Postal Service's problems can be traced to the "disruptive innovation" of the internet which has undercut the core business of the post office. Unfortunately, cutting back on service will surely push more people and more functions to other methods of delivery. For instance, many of the documents we receive for recording come to us via the USPS, but the customers sending those documents could just as easily record them electronically. The same is true for the receipt and payment of bills, both for businesses and for individuals. Electronic bills and payments are widely available and accepted although not all that many people use them but it wouldn't take much for all of those people to make the shift. An outage of regular service would do it. The same dynamic would probably occur with magazines. Most everyone who subscribes to them has a computer or an iPad which can present these publications just as well as paper (although they do take a bit of getting used to). Perhaps the entity that would be most harmed would be junk mailers and that wouldn't be so bad, after all.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Feds to sue big banks

Next Wednesday it will be three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Because that same three years might represent the statute of limitations on some claims for fraud or deception in the real estate financing industry back then, the United States government, on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is expected to file suit today or Tuesday against several major banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. The allegation is that these banks misrepresented the quality of mortgages that were packaged up into bonds and sold to investors. It's hard to believe that there's finally some action on these matters. To me, the biggest obstacle to the claim would be contributory negligence by the plaintiffs since I believe that almost everyone had hands in the cookie jar. Amazingly there are those who now say that notwithstanding any wrongdoing done by the banks several years ago, to hit them with mega-judgments now would be bad for the economy. That's a bit like saying that someone who robbed a bank years ago should not go to jail now because there would be no one to support his family. Whatever the outcome of this litigation, I hope the discovery process discloses much that until now has been undisclosed about the actions and thought-processes of major US lenders during the run-up of housing prices in the middle of the last decade. An accurate history of what really happens still needs to be written.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

August statistics

At the end of each month we review the recording statistics for the month and compare them to those from the same month a year ago. In August 2010, there were 437 deeds recorded; in August 2011 there were 474 which is an increase of 14%. In August 2010, there were 1235 mortgages recorded, in August 2011 there were 928 which is a decrease of 25%. In August 2010 there were 61 foreclosure deeds; in August 2011 there were 40, a decrease of 34%. In August 2010, there were 116 orders of notice recorded; in August 2011 there were 56, a decrease of 52%. As for year-to-date statistics, from January through August 2010, there were 3575 deeds recorded. For the same eight months in 2011 there were 3370, a decrease o 6%. From January through August 2010, there were 7580 mortgages recorded. For the same eight months of 2011 there were 6903, a decrease of 9%. From January through August 2010, there were 462 foreclosure deeds recorded. For the same eight months of 2011 there were 279, a decrease of 40%. From January through August 2010, there were 818 orders of notice recorded. For the same eight months of 2011 there were 501, a decrease of 39%.