Lowell Deeds

The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell

October 31, 2007

by @ 7:35 am. Filed under Real Estate

Everyday we read more and more about the increase in Foreclosures in Massachusetts. In light of this it is easy to understand why there is such a need to make buyers “smarter”. The Boston Globe has an excellent real estate section. One special section is titled How to buy a home without breaking the bank. The section includes eight steps that everyone considering buying a house should read. “The content and tools have been designed by MassHousing, the state’s affordable housing agency, to provide the first time home buyer with a step by step guide…”(Boston Globe). It’s valuable information. The article covers important topics such as… Determining what you can afford; How to make and offer; Selecting a Home Inspector and Applying for a Mortgage.

October 30, 2007

New Indexing Application

by @ 7:18 am. Filed under Indexing, Registry Ops

Last Friday, we got our first glimpse of a new application created by ACS, our computer provider. This program will allow us to make the older images that we have previously created and package them in the same way as our most recent images. Specifically, we will take the images from 1950 to 1976 which have previously only been available as single page images retrievable by book and page number and bundle them into multipage document images. For example, if you are now viewing a five page mortgage recorded in 1972, you have to retrieve each page as a separate individual index. In the near future, you will be able to retrieve all five pages of that mortgage at one time. In addition, we will be able to fully index these older documents in a much quicker, more accurate way than ever before. Finally, we will be able to quickly at pre-1950 documents to our system in the same way. This is all operational now: we just have to do the work now. These new images and indexing information will appear first on our in-house public access terminals and eventually will be transferred to our website. For now, if you happen to be at the registry, go to a public access terminal, select the “document” tab, and retrieve book 1000. This was the first book we completed and it will give you a preview of what’s coming in the not to distant future.

October 29, 2007

Red Sox Video

by @ 7:49 am. Filed under Current Events

Boston’s World Series win has put everyone here at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in a great mood. One thing for sure, we’ll all be getting a lot more sleep next week…wow, the midnight thing was really beginning to get to me. At the registry we are commemorating the Red Sox second world championship in three years. We created a 15 minute video containing over one hundred still pictures of the ALCS and the World Series games. You can see the video at the document waiting area…so if you get a chance be sure to take a look. Congratulations Sox for a great season…

October 26, 2007

WhatIfSports

by @ 7:46 am. Filed under Current Events

Have you ever heard of WhatIfSports. I hadn’t until yesterday. A colleague at the registry of deeds turned me on to it. WhatIfSports predicts the outcome of sporting events using their specialized software called SimLeague. Using this unique program WhatIfSports played a computer simulated 2007 World Series, 10,000 times. I know what you’re thinking…what a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Well, check this out. WhatIfSports predicted the Sox would win game one of the series by a score of…11 to 2. Not bad huh! And they also predicted that Beckett would be outstanding and Gagne would pitch the ninth inning. Want more? WhatIfSports also predicted that Ortiz and Ramirez would drive in two runs each and Youkilis one …sound familiar? It should because it happened that way. Eerie isn’t it? I’ll bet I’ve got your attention now…But hold on a second before you wonder if this group has tapped into some omnipotent source of baseball knowledge. Take a look at their game two predictions… WhatIf Sports said the Rookies would pound the Sox 8 to4…guess they missed that one…and they said Schilling would give up three homerooms, missed that one too…Then WhatIfSports predicted that Brad Hawpe would hit two homeruns…maybe they were talking about a different Brad Hawpe. Not so eerie anymore…So take this for what it’s worth…I listed the scores (but not the winners) predicted by WhatIfSports in the upcoming World Series games:
Game Two….. 8 to 4
Game Three….. 6 to 3
Game Four….. 5 to 4
Game Five….. 10 to 2
Game Six….. 6 to 5
Game Seven…… 3 to 1
According to WhatIfSports the Colorado Rookies will win the 2007 World Series…I know you don’t believe it, but in 10,000 computer matchups Colorado won 52.80% of the time with the most common occurrences being a seven game series won by the Rookies. Hey, let’s not panic, remember computers aren’t infallible, look at how poorly WhatIfSports predicted game two. Maybe it’s just a bunch of mumbo jumbo…then again maybe it’s not. You can check out their website for the detailed “pre-results” of the games.

October 25, 2007

Mortgage Losses Mount

by @ 9:11 am. Filed under Real Estate

I’ll take a break from the elation of last night’s blowout victory by the Red Sox and return to the unfortunate reality of the real estate market. Both the Globe and the Sun report today that real estate sales have slid more than expected (something we’ve seen all along), but the New York Times has a story with more ominous news: The estimated value of all real estate in the United States is $21 trillion. The slide in housing prices is estimated by many economists to be up to 20%. Using that $21 trillion figure, that means that $4 trillion dollars in wealth has simply evaporated - it no longer exists. And it wasn’t like that $4 trillion was sitting in an unclaimed pile out in the wilderness: it was the property of people and institutions and now it has disappeared. It will take years for the books to be balanced and the losses tallied. The impact of this lost wealth will be a drag on our economy for years to come.

October 24, 2007

October 1, 1967

by @ 8:05 am. Filed under Current Events, History

I read Dick’s post on the Red Sox yesterday and it brought back great memories of the 1967 season…I remember the final day of the season well. I was 16 years old and decided to spend the day hanging out in Boston…It was a gorgeous October day, warm and sunny. Someone walked up to me and said “Hey, did you hear, the Sox won the pennant?”. If you followed the Red Sox during the 1950’ and 1960’s hearing these words was almost inconceivable. My head was spinning as I heard the words…Sox! Pennant! What?. 1967 wasn’t an incredible year it was a magical one. Sure the 1975 World Series was fabulous, but the ‘67 pennant race was probably the most exciting in history. Four teams the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox all charged to the finish line hoping to win the big prize. In the final week the White Sox lost five straight knocking themselves out of contention. It all boiled down to that gorgeous October day, the last day of the season…October 1, 1967. Here’s the scenario…Boston was playing Minnesota and Detroit was playing a doubleheader against the Angels. The winner of the Sox/ Twins game was guaranteed at least a playoff game (against Detroit) IF the Tigers won both games against the Angels. Red Sox ace Jim Lonborg pitched an outstanding game and beat the Twins 5 to 3. The Tigers won the first game against the Angels 6 to 4 but lost the second 8 to 5. The SOX WON THE PENNANT…I’ll never forget it…it truly was a gorgeous October day.

October 23, 2007

Pennant Fever Strikes Region

by @ 8:22 am. Filed under Current Events, History

For the fourth time in my lifetime, the Red Sox are heading to the World Series. Like Tony yesterday, I feel compelled to write about the Sox. Having a major sports team achieve such success certainly perks up the region. Three years ago I remember writing that a study conducted during the Sox most recent trip to the Series found that business in Boston emergency rooms plummeted while the Sox were in the World Series. But because of the home town team’s World Championship just three years ago, this one seems a bit different, perhaps easier to enjoy. With “the curse” still in effect back in 2004, we all had to assume disaster would strike but, since the curse was broken that year, the chances of success seem so much greater. Anyway, here’s a quick review of the Red Sox World Series experience during the lives of the Baby Boomer Generation:

1967: St Louis Cardinals defeat Red Sox, four games to three. Bob Gibson was series MVP.

1975: Cincinnati Reds defeat Red Sox, four games to three. Pete Rose was series MVP.

1986: New York Mets defeat Red Sox, four games to three. Ray Knight was series MVP.

2004: Red Sox defeat St Louis Cardinals, four games to none. Manny Ramirez was series MVP.

October 22, 2007

Test Your Sox Knowledge

by @ 6:54 am. Filed under Current Events

This morning I struggled looking for a blog topic. How about foreclosures or the failing real estate market or our new Scan & Return procedure? No…none of these hit me right. As the staff arrived this morning the registry quickly filled with talk of last night’s Red Sox victory and the upcoming World Series. I found my topic…for now we’ll forget the real estate market…today we’re blogging Sox… Think you’re a fan? Try this quiz…
1.What was the name of the opposing team when “Buckner” made the famous error?
2.Who is the curse of the Bambino named after?
3.What is the name of the last Red Sox to win the Triple Crown (BA, HR & RBI)?
4.What position did Ted Williams play?
5.What is Oil Can Boyd’s real first name?
6.What is the nickname for Fenway Park’s left field wall?
7.Who has been on the current Red Sox longer than any of his teammates?
8.This Red Sox’s real first name is Covelli?
9.What year is known as the Impossible Dream year?
10.What are the names of the two players sold by Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley to the Sox?
Check below for the answers:


1. New York Mets 2. Babe Ruth 3. Carl Yastremski 4. Left Field 5. Dennis 6. The Green Monster 7. Tim Wakefield 8. Coco Crisp 9. 1967 10. Rollie Fingers & Joe Rudi

October 19, 2007

E-Recording Progress

by @ 10:19 am. Filed under E-Recording

Earlier this week at the Fall Register of Deeds meeting, we discussed how to move forward with electronic recording. Right now, Lowell has been recording documents electronically for more than two years, having recorded 5000+ documents by that method. Now, some of the registries that still are within county government (and who therefore retain more technological independence) are moving forward in a tangible way and should start receiving documents electronically in the coming weeks. The registries that are within the Secretary of State’s office have been on hold, more or less, and the reason for that has not been entirely clear to me. Now, however, we have a plan for moving forward. We will document the electronic recording process and take it to you, the potential users. If you (and representatives of the title insurance industry) find it acceptable, we should be able to turn electronic recording on at all of the registries. It really won’t take off (i.e., be widely accepted by our users) until that happens because if you’re going to go to the effort to learn how to do electronic recording and set up your internal processes to handle it, you’ll want to do it universally, not at just a handful of registries. There’s no timetable yet but hopefully we’ll have something to share with you all by Thanksgiving.

October 18, 2007

Mid-Month Stats

by @ 10:30 am. Filed under Statistics

While the real estate market remains in precarious shape, our recording statistics for the first two weeks of October look pretty good in comparison to the first two weeks of September 2007 and the first two weeks of October back in 2006. Here they are:

October 1 - 15, 2007
Total docs - 2554
Deeds - 215
Mortgages - 530
Foreclosure Deeds - 20
Orders of Notice - 14

September 1 - 15, 2007
Total docs - 1981
Deeds - 172
Mortgages - 439
Foreclosure Deeds - 18
Orders of Notice - 27

October 1 - 15, 2006
Total docs - 2444
Deeds - 218
Mortgages - 667
Foreclosure Deeds - 7
Orders of Notice - 25

October 17, 2007

Leave YouTube Alone

by @ 7:39 am. Filed under Current Events, Technology

I love YouTube… And since Google bought it I love it even more. But this morning I heard some disturbing news… Some big entertainment company by the name of Viacom or something has decided to sue my YouTube for $1 billion…Why? A frivolous reason. Viacom (or whatever their name is) claims that poor YouTube has shown “a brazen disregard for intellectual property laws and threatened the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy” (now that’s a charge). In plain English, YouTube is posting copy written material without the owners permission. Of course, the congenial, cooperative, amiable YouTube is trying to stop its brazen disregard for intellectual property laws and threatening the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy. The massively creative, intellectual, innovative YouTube has developed a Video Identification which will “require that content owners upload videos they wish to protect so that a hash (a numeric fingerprint of sorts) can be created”. Once this is done content owners can prevent the unwanted uploading of their videos…now that’s what I call taking action and solving a problem. But is Viacom (or whatever their name is) happy? Nooooo! They are still pushing the $1 billion lawsuit against my favorite video sharing site…I know how Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google’s owners)can solve this problem…buy Viacom (or whatever its name is)!

October 16, 2007

Formatting Standards Finalized

by @ 12:09 pm. Filed under Indexing

At a recent meeting, the Massachusetts Registers of Deeds Association adopted the following document formatting standards to be effective January 1, 2008:

DOCUMENT FORMATTING STANDARDS

Documents recorded after January 1, 2008 must meet the following requirements:

1. Be on white paper of sufficient weight to reproduce in registry scanners.

2. All document pages and attachments must be on paper that is no larger than 8.5 inches by 14 inches.

3. Printing shall be on one side only; double-sided pages will not be accepted.

4. Documents that contain printing, writing or other markings must be sufficiently dark in appearance to be legibly reproduced on standard registry scanners.

5. All printing and writing on a document must be of sufficient size to be legibly reproduced on standard registry scanners.

6. Margins on all sides of all document pages must be of sufficient size to be legibly reproduced on standard registry scanners.

7. The first page of all documents must contain a “recording information area” in the upper right hand corner measuring three inches from the top edge of the document and three inches from the right edge of the document that is free from all writing or printing.

8. Documents that do not comply with Formatting Standard 7 above may still be recorded when attached to an official registry Document Cover Sheet or through the use of some other method adopted by the registry.

We will publish an official version of these standards on our website and offer commentary on the rationale behind some of the standards here on this blog in the coming days.

October 15, 2007

Patrick’s Plan

by @ 8:03 am. Filed under Real Estate

There may be some relief in sight for homeowners with high mortgage payments and low property values. Governor Deval Patrick is proposing a program that he believes will slow down the soaring number of foreclosure in Massachusetts. Patrick wants lenders to accept “a short sale”. A “short sale” is when a bank agrees to accept less than the original amount borrowed on a loan. Faced with upward interest rate adjustments causing higher mortgage payments many people can no longer afford their homes. In today’s depressed housing market many homeowners owe more than the decreased value of the property, hence they are unable to sell. By banks accepting “short sales” homeowners can unload their property before facing foreclosure. This is not a new approach to dealing with the housing crisis. The practice was also employed during the last housing slump. Patrick is proposing a pilot program in Massachusetts cities most effected. Currently under consideration to take part in the first phase of the plan are Lawrence, Springfield, Boston, Brockton, New Bedford and Worcester. The big hurdle?…The Commonwealth does not have the legal authority to make lenders cooperate and accept “short sales”. The governor will release more details on his plan before the end of this week.

October 12, 2007

E-Recording Seminar Aftermath

by @ 9:37 am. Filed under E-Recording

About 30 people attended the Simplifile electronic recording seminar this past Tuesday at the DoubleTree Hotel in Lowell. Simplifile’s president even flew in from the companies headquarters in Utah. The local rep, Paul Roth (a Burlington, MA attorney) first demonstrated the Simplifile customer interface. At their most basic level, all electronic recording software allows a user to transmit images of original documents along with data about the document that is entered by the customer to the registry for immediate recording. Paul took the presentation up to pressing the “send to the registry” button at which time I took over, showing how the registry processes incoming electronic recordings. In the questions that followed, the audience of experienced real estate lawyers seemed most interested in the “gap” that exists betwen the final rundown on the registry’s website and the time of recording. Everyone recognizes that this is typically only a few minutes, but it is something that must be addressed. Right now, it seems that most title insurance companies are perfectly willing to cover that gap although they don’t seem to be putting anything in writing so far. Although this meeting was hosted and arranged by Simplifile, I’ve already done another such meeting with eRX, another company that does e-recording with us and I will make myself available to any company or group that has an interest in discussing e-recording.

October 10, 2007

A Boomer

by @ 8:29 am. Filed under Registry Ops

Wow, Friday, October 5 was a strange day here at the registry in Lowell. The longer you work here the better you get at predicting business volume, or so you’d think. Unfortunately, everyone knows the real estate business is down, some might even say way down. So me, I expected last Friday to be slow, very slow. After all it was the Friday before the long Columbus Day Weekend and the earlier part of the week was dead…Well, I was right before I was wrong (please, excuse the political reference). Friday morning saw very little recording activity. We only recorded 54 documents by 12:00. Yes, I prided myself in my clairvoyance, “Yep, experience is the best teacher” I thought…”and I’VE got the experience”. Then all of a sudden BOOM!, as John Madden would say…the place went wild… BOOM! DHL arrived with over fifty mortgages…then BOOM! five sets of closing groups descended on the registry at once…then BOOM! the regular title examiners began to line up at the recording counter…BOOM! BOOM!…In all we recorded 331 documents on Friday, October 5 (did I mentioned it was the day before a long weekend?). Yes, 331 is not really a big day, but 277 of those documents were recorded in the last few hours before closing…Truthfully, I prefer to be busy, but that day turned out to be a boomer.

October 9, 2007

Electronic Recording Checklist

by @ 8:25 am. Filed under E-Recording

With more and more people submitting documents electronically every day, I thought it might be helpful to share the internal checklist we use when processing such recordings. These are the things we look for:

How many documents are in the payload?
Is the fee correct?
What town is the property in? Is that town in our district?
Is there a Recorded Land book and page (i.e., No Registered Land)?
Is the document signed and notarized?
How many pages are in the documents?
Is each page a good quality image?
Is the document type correct?
Is the consideration correct?
Are the names correct?
Is there any reason why this document should not be recorded?
RECORD THE DOCUMENT

October 5, 2007

iPhone Killer?

by @ 7:21 am. Filed under Technology

It seems like every techie magazine I read has an article about a new phone that boast being an iPhone killer. Interesting enough, I saw my first iPhone just the other day. It impressed me. The sleek style made it fit comfortably in the palm of my hand. I gazed at it like a caveman at the glow of a fire. With the push of one button the owner connected to YouTube. In seconds his favorite video was playing…wowww. With the push of another button he played his favorite song. Next he effortlessly typed a text message… Let me say this, after seeing the iPhone it’s going to take some doing to kill this thing. But Verizon claims its new phone will topple Apple. Verizon calls the killer the Voyager VX 10000…for starters I don’t like the name…they need to call it something catchy, the iVerizon or iVoyager, something like that… So what’s the big deal about this new phone? Well, here are some of its features…it has a front touch screen which opens to a second touch screen (nice). It has a “full QWERTY keyboard, V Cast Mobile TV, V Cast Music, and can play mp3 and wma (not bad, but I don’t know what half of that means)… And Verizon priced its killer between $100-$400…But it is going to take a while to determine if Voyager will be an iPhone killer, it won’t be on the market until November.

October 4, 2007

Holiday Schedule

by @ 5:24 am. Filed under Registry Ops

While the Fall of 2007 may not be bringing cooler weather to the region, it is bringing several holidays that effect the operation of the registry of deeds. This coming Monday, October 8, 2007 is Columbus Day so we will be closed. Unlike the actual date of Columbus Day which varies from year to year, Veterans Day always falls on November 11 regardless of which day of the week that happens to be. This year it’s a Sunday. While I don’t have the citation, I believe that when such a holiday falls on a Sunday, it’s official observance shifts to Monday. That means that the courthouse will be closed on Monday, November 12, 2007 and, when the courthouse is closed, the registry of deeds is closed as well since we would not have access to the building.

October 2, 2007

E-Recording Seminar

by @ 11:58 am. Filed under E-Recording

Next Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 4 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 50 Warren Street in Lowell, I will be participating in a seminar on Electronic Recording hosted by Simplifile, one of the four companies now submitting documents to the Middlesex North Registry for electronic recording. Since we began electronic recording back in June, 2005, we have recorded more than 5000 documents via this technology. Of the 5000, 52% have been discharges, 28% mortgages and 22% other types (mostly assignments). The technology works very well and presents us with far fewer problems than the traditional walk-in recording process. If you’re interested in attending this seminar which will feature a demonstration of the Simplifile customer submission module and a presentation by me of what happens when an electronically submitted document arrives at the registry, just contact Paul Roth, Simplifile’s Sales Director at 781-552-1148.

October 1, 2007

Working Fine

by @ 6:54 am. Filed under Registry Ops

Our new “scan and return” procedure is working out excellent. Last Friday was the last business day of September. We recorded 510 documents, a busy day considering these market conditions. We are very pleased with the movement of the documents. No one waited more than five minutes for his/her documents. Four employees recorded documents and one scanned full time. When we first started “scan and return” I estimated that each employee could process 100 documents a day. Today, I would revise this estimate and say each employee could handle closer to 150 documents. Of course much depends on the type of documents being recorded. For instance it is much easy to record and scan a single page document than a large condominium transaction. Our success at a volume of 510 documents makes me feel comfortable we will be able to handle more documents when business picks up.

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