Monday, April 09, 2018

Are Signatures Becoming Extinct

Today's New York Times business section gives prominent placement to a story informing us that credit card signatures are about to become extinct in the United States. By the end of this month, American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa will all eliminate the requirement of vendors that they collect the signature of the person using the card. It is optional for the vendors, so some might continue with the requirement, but many will not.

The article explains that for centuries, the signature was accepted as a reliable means of verifying the identity of a person, but with digital signatures and the demise of hand-written documents, traditional signatures no longer serve that function in a reliable manner.

But the signature will not be totally extinct: the reporter predicts it will "relegated to a few special circumstances" like "sealing a giant transaction like a house purchase."

From the registry of deeds perspective, I'd have to dispute that assertion since we are heading towards entirely paperless transactions in the near future. Sure, the parties may be asked to make their signature on a tablet, but that act will have more to do with providing evidence of the intent of the person executing the document than it will with identifying that person.

Perhaps a more reliable method of verification will be to video and audio record the person acknowledging who he is, what he is doing, and what his intent is, and then embedding that video in the digital document itself. After all, the signature just provides circumstantial evidence of who signed the document.  Seeing and hearing the person executing the document would be stronger evidence. Other than nostalgia and habit, there's nothing to stop us.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Chelmsford Real Estate Map, 1st Qtr 2018

One of our new initiatives at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds is to utilize online mapping tools to display real estate data. To illustrate the possibilities, I have created a Google Map of all real estate sales from Chelmsford, Massachusetts for the first quarter of 2018. The map has blue markers positioned at the location of each sale. By clicking on a marker, you will display the property address, the sales price, the date of sale and the registry book and page number of the deed.

CLICK HERE to see the Chelmsford map.

For a list of these sales sorted alphabetically by street, CLICK HERE