WHAT IS THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS?
A Registry of Deeds is the place where all transactions of a Real Property nature are recorded so that the public is made aware of their existence. Deeds, mortgages, tax liens, water liens, declaration of homestead and many other kinds of documents regarding the title and ownership of real estate are noted permanently in official records.
WHAT CITIES AND TOWNS ARE INCLUDED IN THE MIDDLE BERKSHIRE DISTRICT REGISTRY OF DEEDS?
WHO RUNS THE REGISTRY?
The Registry of Deeds is a division of the Massachusetts Secretary of State. A person called the Register of Deeds administers the Registry. The Berkshire Middle Register has a First Assistant Register. There are a number of clerks who handle various duties.
WHO IS THE REGISTER?
The Register is an elected official whose term is for six (6) years and who makes certain that documents are recorded properly. They also serve as the Assistant Recorder of the Land Court. They are responsible for maintaining all the land records in an accurate and correct form. The present Register is Patricia Harris.
WHERE IS THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS?
The Berkshire Middle Registry of deeds is located at 44 Bank Row Pittsfield, MA 01201. The Registry is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, Except on State and National holidays. Recording hours are from 8:30 AM through 4:00 PM. The telephone number for the Registry is (413) 443-7438.
WHAT IS A DEED?
A Deed is a written document by which the buyer obtains record title to real property. There are several types of deeds. The most common types in this area are Quitclaim or Warranty Deeds. In a Quitclaim Deed, the owner states that he/she has not encumbered any debts or liens against the title but is unwilling to state that his/her predecessors did not do the same. In a Warranty Deed, the owner warrants that he/she has not encumbered any debts or liens against the title and guarantees that his/her predecessors did not encumber the title.
WHAT IF I LOSE MY DEED?
The primary evidence of ownership is the deed itself, but the recording of the deed at the Registry of Deeds is notice to the world as to ownership. Unrecorded deeds are legally binding on the persons who have knowledge of the deed, but recorded deeds are absolute proof of ownership. Once recorded, the original deed is returned to the new owner who usually deposits it in a place of safekeeping with his or her important papers. However, if misplaced or lost, a copy may be obtained from the Registry of Deeds or on our website, www.masslandrecords.com. You may obtain a certified copy at the Registry of Deeds. The certified copy from the Registry has the same legal value as the original deed.
WHOM DO I TALK TO IN THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS ABOUT MATTERS OF THIS SORT?
The clerks at the Document Receiving Counter in the Registry of Deeds will help in answering any questions you may have. The clerks, however, are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice. They are willing, however, to give ministerial advice and assist you with your non-legal, registry related problems.
MAY I MAKE OUT MY OWN DEED?
Yes, you may, but deeds are legally binding documents that affect the rights of the parties to the deed and also their heirs, successors and assignees. Knowledge of legal principles is very important in the preparation of a deed. The Registry is a recording agency and therefore, cannot make out deeds or answer those questions that pertain to legal matters. We advise you to consult a lawyer.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY DEED WHEN IT ARRIVES AT THE REGISTRY?
When any document is brought in to be recorded, there are many steps that are taken before it is returned to the concerned party. The information on the document is first abstracted into grantor and grantee indices. The document is then scanned immediately, and the scanned images are compared with the original document for accuracy. The original document is returned to the party that presented the document for recording. Within minutes it is available on our website, www.masslandrecords.com.
WHAT IS THE STAMP ATTACHED TO A DEED?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts derives revenue from the sale of real estate through the sale of state tax stamps. The amount of the excise tax stamp differs from time to time depending on the action of the State General Court. In Berkshire County, the seller, by custom, is obligated to pay for this stamp just as the buyer is accountable for paying the recording fee for the deed and/or mortgage. The money paid for the tax stamps is income to the Registry and is forwarded to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Click Here to calculate the amount of an excise stamp for a given value.
WHAT IS A TITLE SEARCH?
The recording of a deed and other documents in the Registry does not guaranty that the real estate is free from all liens, encumbrances and other legal problems that would cloud the ownership of the property. A Title Search is a review of all records (Deeds, Probate Court, Bankruptcy, Tax Liens, etc.) and a written report of the Title Searcher’s opinion as to the state of the record title issued. Some people do not have a Title Search, but that is a very dangerous practice and no bank will ever advance money for the realty without a Title Search.
WHAT IF I DON’T RECALL WHEN MY HOUSE WAS PURCHASED? HOW DO I FIND THE DEED?
If you can’t remember the date the house was purchased, you can contact the Assessor in the city or town where the property is situated. They will relay the year and then you can proceed to find the deed as previously indicated. Also, our computer indices are online from 1966 to present date at masslandrecords.com
HOW FAR BACK DO THE REGISTRY RECORDS GO?
Registry records date back to 1761 and all the records are available for public inspection and use at the Registry or on masslandrecords.com.
HOW CURRENT ARE THE RECORDS IN THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS?
All essential index information is entered into the Registry database and is immediately available through the public access terminals and on our website at www.masslandrecords.com.
WHAT OTHER KINDS OF RECORDS WOULD I FIND IN THE REGISTRY?
The Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds holds the decommissioned Berkshire County Commissioners records from 1761-1900’s, including County Road Plans and State Highway Plans from the early 1900’s -2000. From 1789-1908, land records for the town of Dalton were kept in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds. In 1908, Dalton was moved into the Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds district, and the records of these documents were copied and printed in their own books in our registry, titled “Records of Dalton, No. 1- No.5.” In our Search Room you can also find Railroad maps and plans from the 1800’s, and the 1941 “WPA Project: Berkshire County Veteran Graves Registration” plans books, and several older Berkshire County Atlases.
WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND REGISTRATION?
The Department of Land Registration is a separate unit from the recorded section of the Registry of Deeds. This unit is an adjunct of the Land Court that has a main office in Boston. The Land Court is a Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court, which has control over ownership of real property that has been disputed. After the Land Court renders its decision as to the ownership and boundary lines of real property, the ownership of that parcel can never again be disputed or doubted by any person. The Registered Land section currently retains all documents that are registered, including the original deed. A parcel of land can be registered with the Land Court even if there is no dispute but the cost for the official title search, survey of the locus, etc., are substantial and time consuming.
HOW CAN I OBTAIN A COPY OF A PLOT PLAN?
Plot plans are not recorded at the Registry of Deeds. A Plot Plan is not a boundary survey, it is a plan of the location of improvements on a parcel of land. This type of plan is often requested by the city or town building inspector. If you are not able to obtain such a plan, you can hire a professional surveyor to prepare one for you.