Thursday, March 17, 2016

REBA Update on Registries of Deeds

Yesterday I traveled to the new headquarters of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (REBA) at 295 Devonshire St in Boston to participate in a panel discussion. The name of the event was "Escape from the 19th Century: An Update on the Evolving Registries of Deeds."

At the conclusion of the 90-minute program, an audience member asked me if I was "the one who wrote the blog" and said how useful and enjoyable he found it. He very tactfully used the present tense since I have fallen out of the habit of posting here. Being reminded that there is an audience for online registry news and information has prompted me to return to the blog today (and hopefully for many days to come).

My portion of the talk was mostly about the use of technology at the registry of deeds. Computers have definitely transformed the way title examinations are conducted. Opinions differ substantially on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. It should not come as a surprise that I believe our use of technology at the registry has been a great advancement, however, I also am the first to say that it - particularly our website - could be much better than it is. All I can say is that we're working on it.

In the bigger picture, it was clear to me that all three segments of the conveyancing community involved in yesterday's discussion - title examiners, closing attorneys, and registers of deeds - are existentially threatened by technology. While real estate law and the interpretation of real estate documents has been and will continue to be incredibly complex, the act of recording and retrieving documents is not, and so technology threatens not only to change how those things get done, but to greatly reduce the market for people who perform those tasks. That's a given. What is not a given is the response of those whose jobs will change as a result of technology. As I said in my closing remarks yesterday, never in history has a group whose livelihood has been threatened by advances in technology succeeded in holding off that technology. Trying to do that just accelerates one's demise. The better response is to embrace the technology and get ahead of it. Doing that increases efficiency, provides better service, and yes, allows one to remain relevant.

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