How Land Documents are Recorded
Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell recently explained the behind-the-scenes process that happens each day at the Registry of Deeds as the trained Registry staff record documents as expeditiously and accurately as possible.
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds receives and records hundreds of thousands of documents each year. These documents are delivered in person, by mail, or electronically. It is the main resource for attorneys, title examiners, surveyors, mortgage lenders, municipalities, homeowners, and others with a need for secure, accurate, and accessible land record information.
“The importance of having knowledgeable staff members, like we have here at the Registry, can’t be understated; it is vital not just to the functioning of the Registry but to the individuals who rely on the accurate recording of land documents,” Register O’Donnell said.
Whether the document in question is a deed, mortgage, homestead, mortgage discharge, or any other type of land document, the staff at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is trained to quickly recognize the type of document in order to properly index it among the millions of documents archived at the Registry.
“As the depository of over eight million land documents, there are certain basic steps that need to be followed when submitting a land document for recording,” Register O’Donnell noted. “First and foremost, the document needs to be associated with one of the 28 communities comprising Norfolk County. In addition, the document must be an original; we will not record photocopies or documents submitted via fax. Please note that in many cases, land documents require signatures to be notarized before they are recorded.”
There are two categories of land records in Massachusetts: recorded and registered. All land is in one category or the other, but it is possible for a single parcel to include both types. Recorded land comprises about 80% of the property in Norfolk County. Recorded land instruments are assigned a book and page number, while registered land documents are given a document number and noted on a certificate of title.
All land documents, both recorded and registered, are indexed with the names of all parties, the property address, and the type of document. The indexing process includes three stages: first entry, which adds the document type and grantor, usually the person who signs the document; second entry, which verifies the first entry, adds a description, and adds a book and page reference when necessary; and document processing, which puts all the documents that have not been e-filed in order and scans them into the computer system. Once the scanning process is complete, all documents, including e-files, are verified to ensure accuracy.
The resulting images are available for viewing and printing from public access terminals at the Registry and on the internet. In addition, the Registry microfilms all documents and continues to produce record books. Since 2003, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has recorded over 3.5 million documents.
“It should also be noted that the Registry does not draft land documents,” Register O’Donnell said. “The Registry of Deeds is in the business of recording land documents only. If an individual is unsure if a drafted land document, particularly a deed, is in proper order, it may be prudent to have a lawyer familiar with real estate law review the document for its accuracy. A simple mistake on a deed, for example, could lead to a major problem.
Our trained recording staff is more than happy to record your land documents. Land documents are recorded in an expeditious manner once they arrive here at the Registry.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High St., in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at 781-461-6101, or email [email protected].