I NEED A COPY OF MY DEED
Go to the SEARCH section of our website, enter your name and click “Search.” Links to all documents containing your name will appear. Find the one that says DEED and print or download it. If you have any trouble finding it, call us at 978-322-9000 or email to [email protected].
I WANT TO ADD A NAME TO MY DEED
When you say, “add a name to my deed,” you mean you want to make someone else a co-owner of your property. To do this, you must create a new deed that conveys an interest in the property to this other person. Technically, anyone can make up a new deed, but we strongly advise you to hire a lawyer to do it. If you are doing it for the first time it is easy to make a mistake that could jeopardize your ownership of the property. Once the new deed is created, signed and notarized, it should be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. The filing fee for a deed is $155.
I WANT TO REMOVE A NAME FROM MY DEED
The person whose name you want to remove must sign a new deed that conveys their interest in the property to someone else (you, most likely). See the answer above to learn about creating a new deed.
I HAVE CHANGED MY NAME AND WANT TO UPDATE MY DEED
Surprisingly, you don’t have to do anything. You still own the property no matter what you call yourself. The next time you have to record a document for some other reason (refinance, homestead), just write your name CURRENT NAME formerly known as PREVIOUS NAME. We will include both names in our index so anyone researching the title will see that both names refer to the same person.
MY SPOUSE/CO-OWNER HAS DIED
Most married couples and many unmarried co-owners of real estate own property with a right of survivorship. That means when one of them dies, the survivor automatically owns the entire property. Nothing has to be done to make that happen, however, the survivor should record a Death Certificate for the deceased co-owner at the Registry of Deeds to show the change in circumstances. The filing fee for a Death Certificate is $105. Married couples who own property “as tenants by the entirety” and co-owners who hold the property as “joint tenants” have a right of survivorship. Co-owners who hold the property as “tenants in common” do not have a right of survivorship. When one “tenant in common” dies, ownership of their portion of the property must go through the probate.
I INHERITED MY HOUSE; WHERE IS MY DEED?
When someone dies owning real estate in their name only, ownership of the property must go through the probate process. Once the probate is complete, the relevant documents at the Registry of Probate will show that you are the owner of the property. However, there is no deed transferring ownership to you.
I PAID OFF MY MORTGAGE; NOW I WANT MY DEED
Many people mistakenly believe that their property deed is held as security pending the payoff of their mortgage. Unlike the title to a car, this is not how real estate works. When you first bought your property, your lawyer recorded the deed but the Registry of Deeds would have scanned the document and returned the original to your lawyer. If you never got the original deed, don’t be concerned. A copy of the deed from the Registry of Deeds is all you will ever need (You don’t need the original deed to sell the property).
I’VE PAID OFF MY MORTGAGE; WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Your lender should mail you a package of documents that includes one called a Discharge of Mortgage (or Release or Satisfaction or something like that). That document must be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Mail the original, a check payable to Registry of Deeds for $105, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Registry of Deeds, 370 Jackson St, Lowell MA 01852. We will record the document the day we receive it and will return the original to you. PLEASE NOTE that some lenders record the discharge for you and then send you a copy. If you have any questions about whether your discharge has already been recorded, call or email and we will check for you.
DO I HAVE ANY LIENS ON MY PROPERTY?
Go to the SEARCH section of our website, enter your name and click “Search.” Links to all documents containing your name will appear. Liens come in many forms but look for any entries with a document type like LIEN, ATTACHMENT, EXECUTION, or TAKING then read the document. Be sure to search by your name, not by your address. Many liens are against all the property of a debtor so the Registry of Deeds does not include any property address in our records for many types of liens.
I PAID OFF A LIEN; HOW DO I GET IT REMOVED FROM YOUR RECORDS?
If a creditor has sued you in court for an unpaid debt and has recovered a judgement against you, the court will issue an Execution against you in the amount of the judgment and the creditor will have the sheriff record the Execution at the Registry of Deeds. When you settle the case, the creditor should inform the court of the settlement. You then go to the Clerk’s Office of that court and obtain a Clerk’s Certificate that says the case has been resolved. Bring that Clerk’s Certificate to the Registry of Deeds and record it. The recording fee is $105. When we record that document, we will link it to the Execution to show that it has been paid off.
WHAT IS A MUNICIPAL LIEN CERTIFICATE
Despite its name, a Municipal Lien Certificate does not mean you have a lien against you. Under Massachusetts law, unpaid real estate taxes and other municipal charges “run with the property.” If you buy the property from the person who owes the taxes and the taxes remain unpaid, the town could take the property for nonpayment of taxes, even though you are the new owner and you’re not the one who owes the taxes. Recording a Municipal Lien Certificate protects against that happening since your exposure to unpaid taxes is limited to any amount shown on the MLC.
I’M INTERESTED IN BUYING TAX LIENS
Each state handles property taxes a different way. In many states, property taxes are administered at the county level but in Massachusetts, it is the city or town in which the property is located that handles property taxes. If someone fails to pay their taxes on time, the town will record a document called a Taking in which the town “takes” the property for non-payment of taxes. The word “takes” is misleading, because there are many other steps that must be taken before the town could become the outright owner of the property. Recently, towns in Massachusetts have auctioned off their takings to third parties who then step into the shoes of the municipality and pursue the foreclosure of the tax lien. These tax lien auctions are held entirely by the city or town. The Registry of Deeds has nothing to do with them.
WHAT IS A MECHANIC’S LIEN
Massachusetts General Laws chapter 254 provides an expedited way for contractors to obtain a lien on real estate to secure payment of an amount due under a contract for work performed or materials provided on that real estate. This is entire process is commonly called a Mechanic’s Lien although the process does require the recording of several documents and eventually the filing of a lawsuit. It is complex but the law lays out the required steps and timelines so start by reading that.
MY RELATIVE OWES ME MONEY; I WANT TO PUT A LIEN ON HIS HOUSE
In most cases, you must obtain a judge’s permission to place a lien on someone’s real estate. This involves starting a lawsuit and making your request for a lien at a formal hearing before a judge. If the judge agrees with your request, the court will issue you a document (usually called an attachment) that can be recorded at the registry of deeds.
WHAT IS A DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD?
In Massachusetts, the Homestead protects a person’s residence from the laws of debt collection. Anyone owning real estate that services as the owner’s principal residence has an automatic homestead exemption of $125,000. However, the owner may increase that exemption by filing a Declaration of Homestead form at the Registry of Deeds. For more information about Homesteads, see Massachusetts General Laws chapter 188.
HOW DO I FILE A DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD?
You must complete the Declaration of Homestead form which can be found on our Homestead Information page. Spouses who co-own their personal residence must file a joint homestead executed by both. If only one spouse owns the property, the name of the non-titled spouse must be listed on the form. You must sign the form in front of a Notary Public who will “acknowledge” your signature. Mail the completed Homestead form, a check for $35 payable to the Registry of Deeds, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Registry of Deeds, 370 Jackson Street, Lowell MA 01852. We will record the document and return the original to you by mail.
I OWN A VACATION HOME; DOES THE HOMESTEAD COVER IT?
The Homestead only protects your principal residence. It does not cover a second home or a rental property.
ARE THERE ANY DEBTS NOT COVERED BY THE HOMESTEAD?
The Homestead does not protect against unpaid taxes or your mortgage. Also if the Homeowner were to go into a nursing home and have the state pay for his care through Medicaid, the Homestead would not protect against any lien the state may have as a result of providing such care.
I NOW LIVE IN FLORIDA; WHAT HAPPENS TO MY MASSACHUSETTS HOMESTEAD?
If the property for which the Homestead has been filed is no longer your principal residence, then the Homestead provides no protection on that property against creditors. If you are trying to obtain a Homestead in your new state of residence but must provide proof that you do not have an existing Homestead in your former state of residence, you may record a Release of Homestead at the registry of deeds in which the original Homestead was filed. There is no standard form for a Release of Homestead so you may have to see a lawyer to create one for you. A Release of Homestead would have a $105 recording fee.
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 MIDDLESEX NORTH 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 Middlesex North 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 Richard P. Howe Jr..
WHERE IS THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS?
The Middlesex North Registry of deeds is located at 370 Jackson St. Lowell, MA 01852. 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 4:15 PM. The telephone number for the Registry is (978) 322-9000.
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 Middlesex 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 1731 and all the records are available for public inspection and use at the Registry. Some very old record books have been “retired”, but those records are available on microfilm and online from 1731 to date. Click un-indexed property search for record books.
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?
Besides Deeds, Mortgages, Liens, Tax liens, Bankruptcies and so on, there are Leases, Plan Maps, a small library and Atlases of the Cities and Towns located in the Middlesex North Registry District.
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.