Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tax Stamp procedures

Massachusetts law imposes an excise tax on the sale of real estate.  The tax is based on the sales price of the property and is assessed at the rate of $2.58 per $500 of consideration.  The seller is liable for the tax which is collected by the registry of deeds upon the recording of the new deed.  Recently someone from a registry that uses a computer system different than ours (which is the ACS system), me to describe the tax stamp mechanics of our system.  Here's how I responded:

We use the ACS system for recorded land, registered land, and as our electronic recording interface with the rest of the world (although me receive efiles from multiple vendors).  All phases of the ACS system require the person inputting the data (registry clerks or customers efiling) to enter the amount of consideration any time DEED is selected as a document type.  Based on the amount of consideration entered, the system automatically calculates the tax due.  From this point on, recorded land and registered land work one way and efiling works another.

First, recorded & registered land.  When we have completed data entry at the recording counter and have collected the fees and taxes due from the customer, we "save" the transaction which prompts the ACS system to print a 1" x 3" label that contains (for recorded land) the document number, the book and page, the number of pages in the document and the date/time of recording. For registered land documents, that label contains the document number, the certificate number with which the document is affiliated, the book and page of that certificate and the date/time of recording.

Whenever a tax stamp is required, the ACS system automatically prints a second label for the transaction.  This label contains the name and DOR code for this registry (Middlesex North #14001), the date time of issuance, a DOR control number that's automatically assigned by the ACS system, the document number of the document with which the tax stamp is affiliated, the amount of the tax stamp ("Fee") and the consideration stated on the deed ("Cons").

Electronic recording uses a slightly different system, mostly because with electronic recording, we have no tangible document to which we can affix one of our labels.  Instead, we had the ACS technicians alter the system to print the recording information and tax stamp (where applicable) directly on the document.  When we began electronic recording way back in 2005, there was less flexibility as to where that information could be printed.  Because we do not have strict document formatting standards which results in unpredictable margins, I chose to use a cover sheet with electronic recording.  The ACS system automatically inserts this cover sheet at the start of an electronically filed document.  The ACS system prints on this cover sheet all recording information and all tax stamp information (when applicable). 

Regarding the electronic recording cover sheet, I'm not sure that any other registry uses it with their electronic recordings.  I like it because it clearly distinguishes an electronically recorded document from all the others. 

A few final notes.  There is no electronic recording with registered land documents.  We do not number the individual pages of a document; we just state at the beginning how many pages the document has and put that on the first page.  We do not have any type of "end of document" imprint or insert my signature onto every document.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Registry Revenue

The Registry of Deeds collects revenue for the Commonwealth through recording fees, excise tax stamps and surcharges for the Community Preservation Act and the Technology Fund.  The amounts of money collected in these various categories can be used as indicators of trends in real estate.

Thus far in 2014 the registry has collected $9,026,581 in total revenue which averages $1,128,323 per month.  If the eight month total was projected out over the full year, a total of $13,539,871 should be collected.  This would be a 6% decline from last year when we collected a total of $14,367,410.  The decline is mostly in recording fees.  In 2013, the monthly average of recording fees received was $463,542; over the first eight months of 2014, the monthly recording fee average is just $304,859.  This decline is consistent with the overall decline in documents being recorded.  On a more positive note, the amount collected for excise tax stamps is trending upward.  The monthly average of tax stamps in 2013 was $558,363 while the monthly average through August 2014 is $694,434.  Since the tax stamp liability is based on the sales price of the property, this increase suggests that prices are rising.  The higher the price, the higher the tax paid. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Electronic recording in August

Again in August 40% of the documents recorded at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds came to us electronically.  That's the third month in 2014 that we've hit that number.  Here are the monthly percentages for this year:

January - 35%
February - 33%
March - 34%
April - 40%
May - 34%
June - 35%
July - 40%
August - 40%

Of the 4730 documents recorded in August, 1914 came in electronically.  That averages out to 91 electronic documents of a daily average total of 225.  The highest percentage of electronic recordings - 52% - came on Wednesday, August 27.  The most documents received electronically in a single day came on Friday, August 29 with 152.  The highest daily document total came on Friday, August 15 with 369 documents.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

August recording statistics

Here's a look at the total number of various types of documents that were recorded in August compared to the same month in 2013:

DEEDS - In August 2014 there were 635 deeds recorded; in August 2013 there were 637.  Statistically there was no change.

MORTGAGES - In August 2014 there were 865 mortgages recorded; in August 2013 there were 1085.  That's a decline of 20%.

FORECLOSURE DEEDS - In August 2014 there were 15 foreclosure deeds recorded; in August 2013 there were 11.  That's an increase of 36% (but given the small number overall, it would be best not to make any conclusions of trends based on these numbers).

ORDERS OF NOTICE - In August 2014 there were 31 orders of notice recorded; in August 2013 there were 39. That's a decrease of 21% (but see comment to Foreclosure Deeds above).

TOTAL DOCUMENTS - In August 2014 there were 4730 documents recorded; in August 2013 there were 5917.  That's a decrease of 21%. 

If you project the eight months of recordings to date (34,731) out over this entire year, it would give us 52,096 for the year.  In 2013 we recorded 67001 for the year.  That would be a decline of 22%.  It would also be the fewest documents recorded in a single year since 1991 when we recorded 52019.