Milton, MA- Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell appeared as a guest speaker at the Milton Council on Aging building last Friday, as part of his ongoing efforts to bring the Registry of Deeds directly to the residents of Norfolk County.
Register O’Donnell gave an overview of the Registry of Deeds, which is the principal office for real property records in Norfolk County, cataloging and housing more than 8 million land documents dating back to 1793.
"The presentation was both informative and entertaining," said Katie Rohan O’Brien, Milton Council on Aging Outreach Coordinator. "We appreciate that The Register took time out of his busy schedule to meet with us."
Register O’Donnell spent time warning seniors about an ongoing deed scam that is being perpetrated against all citizens of Norfolk County, young and old. Norfolk County residents continue to receive direct-mail solicitations offering them a certified copy of their property deed for an exorbitant fee of $86.00. The average price for a mailed homeowner’s certified deed by the Registry, usually two pages, is $3.00.
"Don’t fall victim to this deed scam. These companies are making outrageous profits. If a consumer knew that the Registry of Deeds would provide them a certified copy of a property deed for a charge of only $1.00 per page, plus an additional $1.00 for postage, they would never agree to pay these companies such an outrageous fee for service," stated the Register.
O’Donnell spent time discussing the advantages of the Massachusetts Homestead Act. The Homestead Act is an important consumer protection tool for homeowners, as it provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.
The Register also reminded attendees about the importance of filing a mortgage discharge after their mortgage has been paid off. A discharge is a document (typically one or two pages) issued by the lender, usually with a title such as "Discharge of Mortgage" or "Satisfaction of Mortgage".
"When a mortgage has been paid off, a mortgage discharge document needs to be recorded with the Registry of Deeds to clear a homeowner’s property title relative to that loan," said O’Donnell.
The Register elaborated on mortgage discharges for the attendees, who seemed particularly interested in the topic.
"In some cases," noted O’Donnell, "discharges are filed directly by banks or settlement closing attorneys with the Registry as part of a property sale or as a result of a refinancing transaction. In other instances, the mortgage discharge is sent to the property owner, who then becomes responsible for making sure the document is recorded. Whether or not a discharge is recorded by the lending institution or the individual property owner, it is important that the property owner makes sure all necessary documents have been recorded at the Registry of Deeds."
Concluding his remarks, O’Donnell stated, "I first want to thank those who attended the event. They asked great questions, and their attendance was greatly appreciated. I also want to thank Katie Rohan O’Brien, Outreach Coordinator, and the members of the Milton Council on Aging board and all the staff who do an outstanding job advocating for and serving the elderly community of Milton."