Register O’Donnell Reminds Homeowners of Need to File Mortgage Discharges with this Increased Real Estate Activity

The Norfolk Registry of Deeds even during this Covid-19 pandemic has been very busy recording land documents.  In calendar year 2020 there were over 179,000 documents recorded at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds which was a nineteen (19%) percent increase over the year before.  A sizeable portion of this document volume were the 45,669 mortgages recorded representing a fifty-four (54%) percent increase in calendar year 2020 over 2019.  This growth has continued into calendar year 2021.  During the five-month period from January 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021 there were 85,046 documents recorded at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds which is a forty-four (44%) percent increase over the same time period in 2020.  A big part of this document volume was the 22,045 mortgages recorded.  This represents a forty-nine (49%) percent increase in filed mortgages in this five-month period in calendar year 2021 over the same period in 2020.


Given this huge increase in mortgage activity Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell advises Norfolk County homeowners about the need to file a mortgage discharge after their mortgage has been paid off.


Register O’Donnell stated, “As consumers we all need to borrow money.  There are many reasons why consumers borrow money- to purchase a house, to make home improvements or to help pay for ever increasing tuition payments of our children.  The borrowing of money involving real estate leads to a mortgage being recorded against the title of that real estate.”


Register O’Donnell stated, “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. This is particularly important in light of the thousands of homeowners who have been taking advantage of historically low interest rates to refinance their mortgages. It should be noted a discharge is a document (typically one-two pages) issued by the lender, usually with a title such as “Discharge of Mortgage” or “Satisfaction of Mortgage”.  During this busy period of refinancing your old mortgages are being paid off.  As a consumer you want to make sure a discharge has been recorded at the Registry of Deeds which tells the world that that mortgage has been paid off.”


“In some instances,” noted the Register, “mortgage 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 cases, the mortgage discharge is sent to the property owner who then becomes responsible for making sure the document is recorded. Whether or not the mortgage discharge is recorded by the lending institution or the individual property owner, it is imperative that the property owner makes sure all necessary documents have been recorded at the Registry of Deeds.”


“If you are looking to check your title and make sure all your mortgages have been properly discharged, Norfolk County homeowners can access the Registry’s online records at By going to the Online Research section of our website, you can verify that all mortgages associated with the property have been discharged. Please remember not having a mortgage discharged will result in a title issue and thereby impact the process of selling one’s home,” noted O’Donnell. 


The Register further noted that there have been cases where no discharge has been recorded against a long paid off mortgage. “Unfortunately, some of the lending institutions that provided funds for these mortgages are no longer in existence. In other cases, financial entities have merged with another lending institution.”


If a property owner needs to retrieve an original discharge of a mortgage and is unclear which lending institution is now responsible for providing the document, an option is to contact the Massachusetts Division of Banks at 1-800-495-2265 x-1 and then x-61501. Another option is to access the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation website Then find the BankFind tab approximately half way down the home page, put in the lending institution in question, then click on the lending institution link and you will be able to determine who has responsibility for the mortgage. 


When recording a mortgage discharge, the original document is required. The Registry of Deeds by law cannot accept photo copies or faxed copies of documents. The filing fee, set by state statute, is $106.00.


In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “After paying off all the mortgages on their property, homeowners want to know they have clear title to their property, especially if they are contemplating selling. Knowing what steps need to be taken to ensure all paid off mortgages have been properly discharged will go a long way in giving the homeowner assurances that they have clear title to their property. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that homeowners make sure their mortgage discharge has been filed with the Registry of Deeds once their mortgage has been paid off.”


The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is staffed with a team of customer service representatives who can be reached Monday through Friday, 8:30AM-4:30PM at 781-461-6101. These representatives have been trained in researching documents and are well versed on the subject of mortgage discharges and what, if necessary, needs to be done to clear title to a property.


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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street 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  Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at [email protected].




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.