Last night I wrote about yesterday's meeting of the Registry of Deeds Technology Advisory Committee. Here are a few additional items that were discussed:
CERS - That stands for "Commonwealth Electronic Recording System" which is the state-created and operated electronic recording portal now in operation in Worcester. The plan is to install it registry by registry rather than all at once. The Suffolk Registry is the next to get it. One of the features of this system tries to address what we see as one of the most common errors: customers sending documents to the incorrect registry. This happens most often in counties with multiple registry districts since some customers only dig deep enough to find the correct county but not the correct district. This new system requires the customer to select the town in which the property is located which then directs the recording to the proper registry. Besides the underlying recording fee, this system also imposes a $5 "convenience charge" which is similar in amount to what the third party vendors like Simplifile and ACS charge their customers. The $5 fee for the state portal goes to a company called "HP Convenience Pay Inc" which administers the system and pays the credit card fee to the issuing bank.
Abolition of Registered Land - Middlesex South Register of Deeds Gene Brune said that one of his wishes was to end Registered Land, at least on a going forward basis if not in its entirety. His reasoning is that registered land accounts for only 15% of the land in his registry district but that the Middlesex South Registered Land Department is staffed with 50% of his employees. The representative from the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (REBA) who is a member of the Technology Committee said that REBA fully agrees that registered land should be reduced, starting most likely with commercial properties, but that the organizations efforts to date to do this have met with "tremendous push back" from the Land Court and so there is little hope of it happening any time soon.
Online Information - The representative of the Mass Association of Realtors (also a tech committee member) explained that 90% of home buyers begin the purchasing process online and for that reason the more information we can put on registry of deeds websites, the better. He said that good Q&A pages are especially helpful and that some brokers print what is already on registry websites and distribute the information as handouts to customers.