Wednesday, December 31, 2003

We produced our first Corporate Certificate today and the system worked perfectly. Here's what happened: an attorney arrived late on December 30 with a sale that had to go on record before the end of the year. Since the seller was a corporation (and the property was Registered Land), a Corporate Certificate in Good Standing was needed. The attorney came to Customer Service and placed an order using our new service. The original certificate was ready the next day (today - December 31) by 10 a.m., in plenty of time to record the transaction. Oh, and Happy New Year to everyone reading the Blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The registry is now able to provide customers with original Corporate Certificates. There are two ways to order them. You can come to the registry's Customer Service Office and place your order (this requires a credit card and has a 24 hour turnaround) or you can order online from the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office and type "SEND TO LOWELL" in the special instructions box. Your certificate will be waiting for you at the registry of deeds the next day. Click here for the online order form. If you have any questions about this new service, please call us at 978/322-9000.

Monday, December 29, 2003

One of the big events of 2003 was the enactment of the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act in November (to become effective in February 2004) which will allow electronic document recording in Massachusetts. It should work like this: A lawyer will scan an already signed document then logon to a secure website, select the type of document she wishes to record and enter all names, addresses and other information that would ordinarily be entered at the recording counter. With a few more clicks, the website will transmit this recording package (the document image and associated data) to the registry where it will flow into the registry’s computer as if it were entered at the recording counter. Payment will be done electronically as well. Once this process catches on, it will radically change the way the registry operates.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

The Sunday papers were filled with top ten lists - news stories, movies and CDs. During the coming week, we'll be publishing our list of the top ten registry of deeds stories of 2003. For now, we'll look to the coming year and a couple of big events. First, the Middlesex South Registry in Cambridge will change from the old Wang computer system to the new ACS system (the same one used in Lowell) on January 20. This means that the satellite office in Lowell will also change computers which will greatly improve the service provided there. The second "new thing" is electronic recording which will begin in Lowell on March 1. Electronic recording will allow customers to record documents from their offices without ever coming to the registry. But more on that later.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Yesterday's ran an interesting article about the conflict between online data and privacy interests (click here to view). At the registry, people constantly express their concern that information about their property is freely available online. While deeds and mortgages have always been public records, there's a big difference between having your mortgage buried in a dusty record book on a shelf in the courthouse and having it freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. As someone once said, the older records were protected by "practical obscurity." Still, the benefits of having land records on the Internet greatly outweigh the privacy concerns (as legitimate as those concerns are). At the registry, we do what we can to protect privacy. For example, we will not record any document (except tax liens) that contains a social security number. But the solution does not lie with limiting access to information but with increased penalties for those who misuse the information.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Most of our employees have today off and, from the level of activity thus far, so do most attorneys and title examiners. Hockey fans in Long Island got in the holiday spirit Tuesday at the Islanders game. Anyone who arrived dressed as Santa got in for free. It was such a success (500 fans arrived in costume) that everyone in a Santa outfit was invited onto the ice between periods. But once on the ice, a dozen participants ripped off their Santa jackets to display New York Rangers jerseys. Since the Rangers are the hated rivals of the Islanders, the other 488 Santas proceeded to beat up the Rangers fans. All the Santas were thrown out and order was restored.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas. It was a balmy 48 degrees here in Lowell at 7 a.m. Today's philosophical tidbit: There are three phases to a man's life: (1) he believes in Santa Claus; (2) he pretends to be Santa Claus: (3) he looks like Santa Claus. Enjoy the holiday. The registry will be open our regular hours tomorrow (Dec 26).

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Thanks to all who have made this holiday season so enjoyable at the Registry of Deeds, starting with our newest neighbor, Jim Cooney, who recently moved his real estate and insurance agencies into the former St Peter's Rectory, just across from the courthouse. Last Wednesday, Jim invited all employees of the registry and the court to an open house that included lunch and tours of his magnificently restored building. After work on Friday, the second annual courthouse holiday party at the Catcher's Mitt (f/n/a The Bench) was well attended by employees and attorneys. Then, between the title examiners, the law library and the employees of the registry, the past week morphed into one enormous buffet full of great food and desserts. And thanks to everyone who sent cards, cookies, and candy to the hard-working employees at the registry of deeds.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Welcome to the Lowell Registry of Deeds blog. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "blog" is short for "weblog" which is a frequently updated log on the Internet about a particular subject. This site will have the latest news about what's going on at the registry and in the real estate and land recording business. I hope the blog proves useful and informative. In the future, the blog will be more interactive allowing you to post your comments and questions. For now, if you have any comments, just send them by email to