Recording Deeds and Mortgages

holding house representing home ownershipReal Estate Lawyers Serving Residents of Boston

Property transactions should be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Recording deeds and mortgages allows potential buyers to be aware of who owns the property and with what limitations. Other documents recorded at the Registry are declarations of homestead, declarations of trust, federal tax liens, municipal lien certificates, plan copies, mortgage foreclosure deeds and affidavits, mortgage discharges, and partial releases. The real estate attorneys at Pulgini & Norton can advise Boston residents on how to record their property transactions so that they can protect their interests.

Recording Deeds and Mortgages

A deed is a written document that gives a buyer record title to a parcel of real estate. It identifies the buyer and seller, provides a legal description of the property, and is signed by the person who is transferring the property. The most common deeds are quitclaim and warranty deeds. A quitclaim deed transfers the ownership interest the grantor has in the property but makes no promises that the title is good. It is often used to transfer property between spouses after divorce. In contrast, a warranty deed explicitly promises that the grantor holds good title to the property.

Although the primary evidence of ownership of a parcel of property is the deed itself, and deeds are binding for people who already know about them, recording the deed provides notice to the public of your ownership. Once a deed is recorded, you should keep it in a safe place, but you can obtain a copy from the registry where it was recorded.

Mortgages are also recorded at the registry of deeds. When a property is mortgaged, the lender must be paid off at the time of closing. Once it is paid in full, the lender must send the closing attorney a mortgage discharge document to be recorded at the registry of deeds to clear the property's title. The discharge is usually a page titled "Satisfaction of Mortgage" or "Discharge of Mortgage."

A deed recorded in the registry does not guarantee on its own that real estate is free from any liens or encumbrances, but checking the registry is part of the title examination process. Generally, banks will not provide a mortgage without a thorough title examination that shows clear title—a title that is free of liens, encumbrances, and defects.

To make sure that the seller has a good, clear, and marketable title, most title searches go back at least 50 years. Some issues that may crop up are tax liens, boundary disputes, and unreleased mortgages. The title examination should trace the chain of ownership, including rights previously granted by earlier owners to others in the form of easements.

When a title examination is not property conducted, or an ownership interest has not been recorded in the registry, a property owner's interest in the property may be jeopardized at some point in the future. The worst-case scenario is that a buyer loses the property but is still responsible for the mortgage. To safeguard against this, it is helpful to purchase title insurance.

Contact a Boston Attorney for Assistance with a Property Transaction

The experienced lawyers at Pulgini & Norton can assist people in the Boston area with home purchases and matters related to them, such as conducting title examinations, making relevant inquiries, and recording deeds and mortgages. We also represent individuals in Newton, Quincy, Braintree, Somerville, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form to arrange a free consultation.