Register O’Donnell Appeared as Guest Speaker at Tufts Library

Weymouth, MA- Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell appeared as a guest speaker at Tufts Library in Weymouth as part of his ongoing efforts to bring the Registry of Deeds directly to the residents of Norfolk County.

“Today was great, the talk was very informative,” said Jennifer Woodward, Head of Reference and Adult Services for Weymouth Public Libraries. “People learned some interesting quirks about property that makes Massachusetts unique and may help them or someone they know.”

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 10 million land documents dating back to 1793.

“As a reference librarian and native of Massachusetts, hearing about the history of Norfolk County and how it was formed was interesting,” said Woodward. “It was also interesting that property documents are based on names and not addresses.”

According to Woodward, the speaking event garnered the attention of many first-time attendees to the educational events held at the Tufts Library. 

“I welcome any time I can get out into the community and have the opportunity to speak with people about some issues that homeowners might face,” said Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell. “I was impressed by the audience engagement and truly glad to see that individuals attending the seminar hosted by Senior Connections were actively interested in learning about these common homeowner issues.”

Register O’Donnell 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.

The Register elaborated on mortgage discharges for the attendees, who seemed particularly interested in the topic.

“In some cases,” noted Register 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.”

Register O’Donnell spent time informing those attending the event 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 exorbitant fees. The average price for a mailed homeowner’s certified deed by the Registry, usually two pages, is $3.00.

“Consumers may interpret these notices as a bill since they are affixed with a due date. 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 O’Donnell.

Register O’Donnell discussed 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.

“Homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that with a Declaration of Homestead recorded at the Registry of Deeds, their primary residence cannot be forcibly sold to satisfy most debts. This is especially important when you consider that for most of us, a home is our most valuable asset,” said O’Donnell.

“At the Tufts Library, we try to put on educational events that spark local interest, and this speaking program was a good example of that,” said Woodward.

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 Jennifer Woodward for inviting me to speak and helping coordinate the event, and the staff of Tufts Library for all they do for the Weymouth community.”

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is closed Today, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.