Monday, April 06, 2015

Sufficiency of property description in a mortgage

A query from a major national lender recently found its way to me.  Here's the question posed:

Must a Schedule A (property description) be attached to a mortgage to be recorded?  Do most registries require the metes and bounds information as a separate attachment?  If so, must it be freshly typed or can it be a legible copy from a previously recorded document?  Or, is it sufficient to just add the property address, property tax ID number and deed book and page information to the mortgage?

Here is my answer:

There is no specific rule on what constitutes the minimum property description for recordability.  In Massachusetts, a mortgage is a deed so the rules for deeds apply to mortgages.  The property description in a deed must “describe the land [being conveyed] with such particularity as to make it capable of identification.” 

I think the property address plus the book and page of the deed that established title in the seller/borrower with some contextual language would be the bare minimum required.  Something like "Property description: The land and buildings located at 360 Gorham Street in Lowell, Middlesex County, described more fully in the deed from Middlesex County to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dated June 27, 1997 and recorded in the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds at book 12345, page 321.”

I think the better practice is to include the full property description from that deed in the new mortgage.  Whether that is done by inserting that language in the body of the mortgage or attaching it as an Exhibit A, including that full description helps eliminate any potential ambiguities plus it is probably considered by many (lawyers and registry employees) to be a requirement.  While I don’t think it is a requirement, the potential hassles involved in convincing people the shorter description is sufficient probably outweighs any time savings in dispensing with it when the document is first created.

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