The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
Today’s Globe has an editorial praising the Boston Public Library’s plan to raise $6 million to fund the scanning and transition to the internet of 60 million pages of federal government documents including all Federal Appeals Court decisions since 1950 and all decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Globe rightly points out that the BPL effort by itself will overwhelm the casual internet user with hordes of raw data and sees that the true value of this effort is to put this raw material out there for creative and motivated individuals to repackage in a way that will make it most usable to all types of users. This has been my vision for land records for quite some time. Our role is to put the basic record of land ownership - the index and document images - out their on the web, freely available to anyone who wants to use it. Everyone from the most experienced real estate lawyer to a first-time home owner want-to-be has equal access to this information. And “creative individuals” also have access. These are the kind of people who constructed sites such as www.zillow.com which takes our data and mixes it with other information from assessors and real estate agents. Some believe that we should be retaining tighter control of this information and charging for access to it. I believe that the initial recording fee for our documents (which may be the highest in the nation) is sufficient to pay not only for recording the document but also for maintaining it electronically in perpetuity, but that’s a fight that still over the horizon, so I won’t worry about it for now.
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