Friday, May 22, 2009

Electronic recording statistics

I’ve compiled some statistics on our volume of electronic recordings. Since we activated the system in June 2005, we have recorded more than 13,000 documents that were submitted to us electronically. The average per year continues to increase: In 2005 (June thru December) we averaged 151 per month; in 2006 the average rose only to 156; in 2007 the average reached 291; in 2008 it grew to 330; and for the first four months of 2009 it has exploded to an average of 588 documents per month. April 2009 saw the highest number of electronic recordings (781) followed by March 2009 (679).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Correcting "National Lumber"

On numerous occasions I’ve written about National Lumber v Lombardi, 64 Mass App 490 (2005) a case in which the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that a document was deemed to be on record when it was “delivered” to the registry of deeds, not when it was indexed and scanned by the registry. The members of the Massachusetts Registers of Deeds Association have been concerned that this holding could alter the longstanding practice that a document is “recorded” when it is entered into the registry’s computer system and not before.

Two identical bills, House #1527 and Senate #1826, are now pending in the state legislature. Here’s the language they both share:

SECTION 1. Section 14 of Chapter 36 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the last sentence and inserting the following:

“No deed or instrument shall be considered to have been received by the Register or left for record until said deed or instrument has been approved for recording by the register and an instrument number or document number or book and page has been assigned to said deed or instrument”

Hopefully this amendment will be enacted during this legislative session. I know if no case that has invoked the holding of National Lumber, but I suspect that is only a matter of time.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Electronic indexes for sale

At the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, the Grantor and Grantee Indexes from 1976 to the present are available in a single, searchable computer database that is fully available on the registry’s website ( Although Indexes from 1629 to 1975 are not yet on the internet, they are available as “electronic index books” at the registry.

These “electronic index books” were created by scanning the original paper index books and saving the resulting images in the PDF format. We have retained the original date ranges of the indexes (for example, 1916-1925; 1926-1940) but within each date range, we have separated the pages of the index into separate files based on the first letter of the last name.

Because some of the letter files are more than 1000 pages long, we have created a sub-index at the beginning of each file. This sub-index is a spreadsheet that contains the first name on each page of that letter file along with the corresponding page number. By finding the name closest to the one of interest to you and using the “go to” function in the PDF program, you can jump to the area where your name is located. Once there, you can use the forward and back arrow buttons to flip through pages just as you would with the printed/bound index book.

We have now established a pilot program to test the market for selling these indexes to our customers. We have purchased a number of 16 gigabyte flash drives and have copied the entire 1629-1975 Grantor and Grantee Indexes onto each. Customers may purchase one of these flash drives by coming to the registry in person and paying $50 (we can only take checks payable to “Commonwealth of Massachusetts” as payment). Once you have purchased one of our flash drives, you may copy the data to one or more computers and use it however you wish. It is not our intent to make a profit on these transactions: the $50 just covers the cost of purchasing the blank flash drives. We haven’t given up on getting all this data onto our website; it’s just taking much longer than we had hoped. These individualized copies of the index should serve as a useful bridge to the time when a web-based solution is available.