Lowell Deeds

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

June 30, 2009

Satellite Office Under New Management

by @ 11:47 am. Filed under Registry Ops

The Secretary of State’s office has this notice on its website:

Secretary Galvin’s Office will temporarily bridge the satellite office services at the Northern Middlesex District Registry of Deeds in Lowell past July 1, 2009. Additionally, the Southern Middlesex District Registry of Deeds in Cambridge will continue its services temporarily as well. More information shall follow.

The changeover will occur tomorrow, July 1, 2009 at 8:30 a.m. Further, the Middlesex South Satellite office in Lowell will physically move to another location within the courthouse, the space currently known as the “Closing Room.”

Additional information will be posted here as it becomes available.

June 29, 2009

They Did It

by @ 3:17 pm. Filed under Technology


They did it, oh yeah, they went ahead and did it…even after they said they won’t do it, they did it. I don’t know about you, but it aggravates me? Whenever someone tells you one thing and then does something else, it annoys the heck out of me. I am trying to just let it go…but truthfully, I can’t. I said to myself, hey what’s the big deal, just live with it, but I can’t. I can’t let it go.
Who and What am I talking about?
Its Microsoft…THEY did it. THEY developed a new Operating System to replace Vista. THEY said THEY were not going to drop Vista. THEY said THEY were “sticking with it”. Doesn’t it aggravate you too?
It should, because if you bought a new computer in the last two years your Operating System is going to be outdated on October 22….nice huh.
I am one of those people…can’t you tell.
I bought my newest computer about six months ago, so in three months I’ll be running a nine month old outdated computer… Did you hear that? nine months old and its outdated. It gets me…really perturbs me.
I know what you’re thinking…just upgrade to “Windows 7”…Yeah, right….if I’m willing to shell some more money, I can.
How much more?
Here is the official pricing for the upgrades…
Windows 7 Home $120
Windows 7 Professional: $200
Windows 7 Ultimate: $220

I told you!, I told you, they did it…and worst yet, I’ll bet they’ll do it again.

June 26, 2009

End of FY

by @ 10:23 am. Filed under Registry Ops

It is the last Friday of June and there are only two business days left until the end of the fiscal year. This has traditionally been a very busy day at the registry of deeds. So far this morning, the end of the fiscal year is living up to its reputation. It has been busy. But will it last all day? That’s the question. And we expect with the closing of the Middlesex South Satellite Office only a few days off that department will also be busy. In the past South usually gets busier in the afternoon than the morning. Lets see what happens…we’re prepared. I’ll report back on Monday.

June 25, 2009

Twitter Tutorial

by @ 10:24 am. Filed under Registry Ops, Technology

I am a complete Twittermanic. If the originators of Twitter shaved their heads, I would too (if my wife let me). I love Twitter and think it is a communication revolution, just look at Iran. Yes, I have written about it many times on the lowelldeeds blog…to some, too many times. In my travels (this includes the three miles I live from work) I have discovered that many people are interested in using Twitter but haven’t quite figured it out yet…I found this great Twitter Tutorial on YouTube and thought it would be very helpful for newbees. It was originally posted by alienfromneptune (I know, try and ignore the name. It is a good video)…so enjoy and don’t forget, you can follow the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds on Twitter. Our user name is lowelldeeds (what esle).


June 24, 2009

Emoticons

by @ 12:14 pm. Filed under Current Events

They’re called emoticons…we’ve all seem them. A smiley face made by putting a colon before right parenthesis, like this : ) and this could be changed to a sad face with a left parenthesis, like this : (
Here are some of the more common emoticons you’ll find in text messages and emails:

=D Large grin or big laugh
:(] I’m shocked or surprised
:< Frowning sad
=P I’m an idiot
:-\ I’m bored annoyed or awkward
;-) a wink
<3 I’m in love
:S I’m confused and embarrassed

These are all interesting and you’ll see them often…but, what about when you want to express an “out of the ordinary” emtion? What do you do? Well, this morning I took the time to create some emoticons that although its unlikely you’ll need to use in a text message mioght just come in handy on that rare occassion:

############ Good Fences Make Good neighbors
************ Its snowing again
<> You go your way I’ll go mine
| | | | Is that your Jeep?
Lo Anyone for soccer?
“~î~” I think I’ll shave my mustache
_///__\\\_ Take the bridge, its faster

OK, so maybe some are a little silly….but I’ll bet the time will come when you need to use one. Then you won’t think its silly. Will you?

June 23, 2009

New Judicial Center

by @ 1:16 pm. Filed under Current Events

This is a short video on the new Judicial Center to be built in Lowell. The pictures were taken from the state’s Administration and Finance Department website. More details on the project can be found here.

June 22, 2009

Defective Acknowledgements

by @ 3:24 pm. Filed under Real Estate

Last week I wrote a post about In re Giroux, a Bankruptcy Court case (District of Massachusetts) in which the judge held that a second mortgage on which the acknowledgement clause was incomplete (”. . . then personally appeared ____ and acknowledged the foregoing . . .”) was improperly recorded by the registry of deeds. The court held that for a document to be recordable, the acknowledgement clause had to be complete. Since then, we have come across numerous already recorded documents that suffer from this same defect. An attorney also contacted me to say he had discovered two such documents in the chain of title of a property he was examining.

I’m not really sure how we at the registry should react to this case. Our attitude, and the attitude of the Deed Indexing Standards, has been to liberally interpret that acknowledgement - if there’s something there that looks like an aknowledgement by a notary public, we’ll take the document. But this case suggests we must set the threshold for recording much higher; that we should closely examine the acknowledgement clause of each document and, if there are any departures from the standard wording, we should not record the document. I suspect that this is not the last time I’ll be writing something about this case.

June 19, 2009

State Budget Nears Completion

by @ 9:59 am. Filed under Registry Ops

Last evening, the joint conference committee of the legislature issued its report resolving differences between the House and Senate budgets. Both houses of the legislature are scheduled to vote on the conference committee report (available online here) today, so presumably we will have a state budget ready for the Governor’s signature by the end of the day. As expected, the budget contains substantial cuts across the board including a 15% reduction in this registry’s funding. While it is understandable in light of the scale of the current worldwide economic crisis, such deep cuts will have adverse consequences on our operations (such as the elimination of our Middlesex South Satellite Recording Office). Fortunately, the cuts will leave us sufficiently staffed to perform our core statutory mission which is to operate the Middlesex North District Registry of Deeds.

Besides each registry’s individual line item in the budget, the line item in the report that provides the funding for the operation of the Secretary of State’s office includes several directives by the legislature to the Secretary that directly effect the operations of the state’s registry’s of deeds. The specific items I noticed were:

    1. Requiring the Secretary to file with the legislature no later than Feburary 1, 2010 a staffing report for the entire office (including the registries of deeds) that includes job titles and responsibilities and rates of compensation;

    2. Giving the Secretary of State the authority to transfer money appropriated for the operation of one registry to the budget of another registry; and

    3. Requiring the Secretary of State no later than June 30, 2010 to issue regulations governing electronic recording of documents and requiring each registry performing electronic recording to comply with such regulations.

June 18, 2009

Passports and Same Gender Couples

by @ 11:09 am. Filed under Current Events

For several years this registry has served as a passport application intake station. Recently, a few of us attended a training seminar held at the Boston passport office. The class was well-run, professional, and covered all the substantive rules. One thing that struck me as odd was the treatment of same gender couples who marry and assume the same name. Because passports are issued by the Federal government, the US Defense of Marriage Act would not recognize a name change based on a same gender marriage. Today’s Globe, however, reports that the Federal government has now modified that rule and will allow the issuance of passports in the married name based on a marriage that is recognized in the state in which the marriage occurred.

June 17, 2009

Bankruptcy Decision Invalidates Mortgage

by @ 2:33 pm. Filed under Indexing, Real Estate

A recent decision by the United States Bankruptcy Court for Massachusetts dealt with the sufficiency of the acknowledgement of a mortgage. The case is In re Giroux, a May of 2009 decision and the alleged defect occured when the notary public failed to insert the borrower’s name into the notary clause (”Then personally appeared ______________ and acknowledged the foregoing to be his free act and deed”). The court held that even though the notary signed the notary clause which was located on the same page as the borrower’s signature, the absence of the borrower’s name in the middle of the clause invalidated the acknowledgement. Consequently, according to the court, the registry of deeds should not have recorded the document. Since the mortgage was therefore void, the lender was left as an unsecured creditor of the bankruptcy estate.

Ironically, the court cited the Massachusetts Deed Indexing Standards as support for its holding. The intent of the Indexing Standards was to be fairly liberal about what constitutes a sufficient acknowledgement, so the holding in this decision was certainly unexpected. Over the coming days, we’ll read the decision more closely, as well as the cases and statutes cited, to see whether it will alter our own standards for accepting documents for recording.

June 16, 2009

Bunker Hill Day

by @ 1:35 pm. Filed under History

Tomorrow is Bunker Hill Day. This registry will be open during our normal hours. Despite all of the negative publicity that now surrounds this particular “holiday”, the Battle of Bunker Hill is worth remembering. To place it in context, the fight at Lexington and Concord occurred on April 19, 1775. In the aftermath of that British raid, thousands of colonial militia gathered outside of Boston and laid siege to the city. During the overnight hours of June 13, 1775, American forces occupied Breed’s Hill which was to the northwest of Boston and separated from the city by water. When the British discovered the colonial forces present and entrenched on the hill, they set out to attack. Although some British leaders recommended landing a force to the rear of the American positions and thereby cutting off any chance of retreat, the British commander, General William Howe, decided that a frontal attack was more appropriate under the circumstances. This they did on June 17, 1775. The first two British assaults were beaten back with heavy casualties and it was only after the Americans began to run out of ammunition did the British capture the position. The British suffered more than 1000 casualties, more than in any other battle during the entire Revolution, while the American casualties were 450.

June 15, 2009

Are interest rates slowing the market?

by @ 9:56 am. Filed under Real Estate

Last week I commented on a story about the new reality of appraisals – that more and more often current valuations of properties are jeopardizing deals because the appraisal comes back for less than the agreed upon price. Now, another hindrance to the recovery of the real estate market has arisen. Mortgage interest rates have increased and are at their highest since last November. While rates are still low by historic standards, the increased amount of interest tends to increase the monthly payments to an amount high enough to disrupt deals. As fears of inflation continue to grow, it’s likely that interest rates will stay high or get higher. Of course, if potential buyers adopt the view that interest rates will only rise, that might be enough motivation to jump into the market and cause an increase in sales.

June 12, 2009

A new era for appraisals?

by @ 10:26 am. Filed under Real Estate

A recent story in the Globe detailed the negative influence that appraisals are having on the real estate market. Many sales and refinancings have been scuttled when the appraisal comes back and values the property at less than the agreed sales price or the amount needed to pay off the existing mortgage. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and if it had happened more often during the irrational run up to the peak of the real estate bubble, perhaps the severity of the present economic crisis would have been averted or lessened. Nevertheless, judging the value of real estate is an art not a science, so when an property with a P&S for $225,000 has an appraisal come back at $220,000 and thereby blow up the deal, it would be understandably frustrating for all involved. A number of factors are contributing to make the business of appraising properties tougher than ever: The slow market yields few comparable sales; Many comparable sales are of properties owned by lenders who gained title through foreclosure and who heavily discount the resale price and thereby artificially drive down values of like properties. And appraisers are naturally wary of setting a current value which, in a steadily declining market, might seem overpriced in just a few months. While this new diligence in valuing property will be beneficial in the long run (assuming the cautionary impulse continues with the return of rising prices), in the short term, it certainly is contributing to the persistent slowness of the real estate market.

June 11, 2009

$300K for a parking space?

by @ 2:37 pm. Filed under Current Events

When I arrive home after work today, I’ll look at my driveway in an entirely different way after reading today that the new owner of the property at 48 Commonwealth Ave in Boston paid an additional $300,000 for a parking space that went with the property. I know parking in Boston in expensive - that’s why I take the train whenever possible - but when the cost of ownership of space for a single car exceeds the purchase price of the majority of homes in Lowell, you know something is out of whack. I suppose I should have figured this out already. During past meetings and conferences on the Massachusetts Deed Indexing Standards, attorneys who regularly do real estate work in Boston would become obsessed with how the registry indexed parking spaces that were often buried deed in the description section of a deed conveying a residential unit. Those of us from outside of Boston never could summon much enthusiasm or concern for this issue. After today’s article, however, I know I’ll be paying much closer attention to documents related to parking spaces than I ever have before.

June 10, 2009

Book Form Documents

by @ 4:15 pm. Filed under Registry Ops

Several years ago we scanned all of our Registered Land documents and made them available over the Internet. The project took a lot of registry manpower and resources…but it was well worth it. In total employees scanned about 160,000 documents…pretty good, especially when you consider that each document was approximately 5 pages long…that’s around 800,000 scanned pages in total. During the project I intentionally skipped what are called Registered Land Book Form Documents…why? My philosophy concerning large projects has always been that more registry users benefit when we scan in bulk. Here is what I mean…We can scan 100 documents, each consisting of one page, in the same amount of time it takes to scan one, “one hundred” page document. I believe the probability is high that more people will use one or more of those 100 “one page” documents than will use the “100 page” document…so we held the Book Form Documents for later. These unusual documents are bound and very large. Fortunately, there are only about 90 of them, each about 150 pages long. Well, we decided that its now its time to scan these…so yesterday we scanned our first Registered Land Book Form Document. And hope to finish the rest in a month.

June 9, 2009

How long will home prices stay down?

by @ 10:31 am. Filed under Archived, Real Estate

Robert Shiller, a Yale economists, suggests that US housing prices will continue to decline for a long time. He cites the bursting of the Japanese real estate bubble in 1991 and the resulting 15 straight years of declining prices as one example. In the most recent US experience, the bursting of the real estate bubble in 1990-91, it was not until 1997 that US home prices began to rise again. Shiller says that real estate does not follow the traditional rules of economics. In that universe, when the value of an asset declines, owners of the asset tend to sell quickly which allows the bottom of the market and the subsequent rebound to occur in relatively short order. Real estate doesn’t follow this curve for a couple of reasons. Most folks don’t own homes as speculative investments, so it’s an easy jump from home owner to home renter. That kind of switch brings massive lifestyle changes and occurs not for investment reasons, but usually as a result of severe economic stress. Consequently, most people who contemplate selling their home also plan to buy a replacement - they’re not “getting out of the market” like someone who was dumping all of their stock, for example. While a declining market favors home buyers, the home buyer is also a home seller and is thereby punished by that same market. This combination results on a type of paralysis that makes the effects of a declining market linger.

June 8, 2009

Twitter Will Change The World

by @ 11:27 am. Filed under Technology

If you are not a Twitter believer yet you have to read this fabulous article in Time by Steven Johnson. It will change your rmind…The article is appropriately titled “How Twitter will Change the Way We Live”.
I have extracted what I consider the ten most interesting quotes from the article dealing with Twitter.

Evan Williams & Biz Stone creators of Twitter.

The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression.

You hear about this new service that lets you send 140 characters updates to followers and you think, Why does the world need this…

But the key development with Twitter is how we’ve jury rigged the system to do things that its creators never dreamed of.

In the past month, Twitter has add a search box that gives you a real time-view onto the chatter of just about any topic imaginable.

Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation (140 characters) by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communication channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts videos-anything that lives behind a URL.

This is what the naysayers fail to understand: its just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000 word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.

If you’re looking for interesting articles or sites devoted to Kobo Bryant, you search Google. If you’re looking for interesting comments from your extended social network about the three pointer Kobo just made 30 seconds ago, you go to Twitter.

The fact is that many of its (Twitter) core features and applications have been developed by people who are not on the Twitter payroll.

Its like inventing a toaster oven and then looking around a year later and seeing that your customers have of their own accord figured out a way to turn it into a microwave.

In fact every major channel of information will be Twitterfied in one way or another in the coming years.

June 5, 2009

Sales and Foreclosure Reports

by @ 2:43 pm. Filed under Statistics

I just finished posting the sales and foreclosure reports for the month of May and for 2009 through the end of May. Both can be found on the Sales page of our website. The sales reports are an extract of data from our recording system and include the property address, the date, the sales price and the book and page number where the deed is located. The “foreclosure” report is really an “order of notice” report which contains the property address, the date and the book and page number where the order of notice is recorded. Each town has its own sales report but there is only one, consolidated foreclosure report for the entire district. For both sales and foreclosure reports, we create two versions at the end of each month. One contains only activity from that month; the other for the year-to-date. Consolidated annual sales reports from 2000 through 2008 are also available. Everything is in PDF format so it’s easy to view and print although you cannot easily re-use the data in a spreadsheet or database program.

June 4, 2009

May Statistics

by @ 10:23 pm. Filed under Archived, Statistics

By mid-afternoon last Friday I posted a snapshot of foreclosure-related recordings for the month of May and compared them to May of 2008. Since a few late-afternoon recording might have arrived after that post was written, and because it did not do a like comparison of deeds and mortgages recorded, I’ll do a recap of the month of May here:

For the entire district, the number of deeds recorded in May 2009 (434) declined 12% from the number recorded in May 2008 (495). The number of mortgages, however, rose by 40%, from 1102 in 2008 to 1539 in 2009. The number of foreclosure deeds recorded showed a steep and welcome decline of 71%, dropping from 75 in May 2008 to 22 in May 2009. The number of orders of notice - the first step in the foreclosure process - unfortunately rose by 25%, climbing from 49 to 61.

The statistics for Lowell trended similarly, except for mortgages which declined by 10% (dropping from 253 to 227). Deeds showed a similar decline, dropping 15% from 156 to 132. Foreclosure deeds dropped by 77% (from 48 down to 11) while orders of notice rose by 36%, climbing from 25 to 34.

June 3, 2009

Non-Hiring Pratice

by @ 2:48 pm. Filed under Technology

Actually, I had made up my mind to blog on registry operations today…that was until a story on today’s early morning TV news caught my attention. It involved Google, Apple, Yahoo and other technology companies. Believe it or not…US regulators are looking into the hiring practices of these three huge Internet companies…or I should say their “non-hiring” practices. You see, one source close to the investigation (no, not Mark Felt) says these companies agreed not to hire/recruit each other’s employees. Google doesn’t go after Apple’s smart people and Apple won’t go after Google’s smart people. What, I thought! That’s got to be illegal. And yes, theFeds agree…you can’t do it. Now, I must say (if this is true) I am a little disappointed in Google especially. I love that company. I call it the SkyNet (Terminator I) of our world. It is the Goliath of the technology world . Google shouldn’t need to resort to unethical and/or illegal practices to remain dominant. Lets put this whole thing in perspective…imagine someone excels as a hotdog vendor at Fenway Park and the people that run Fenway make an agreement with the people that run Yankee stadium…you don’t hire our good dog cooks and we won’t hire your good dog cooks…I’ll bet you agree with me…if someone can grill a great dog he/she deserves the compensation the market place can bring.

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