Register O’Donnell Stresses Need to File Mortgage Discharges
Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell
Register O’Donnell noted, “During our office hours, a frequently asked question by homeowners is do they have clear title to their property. This is determined by accessing our online records and verifying if all mortgages associated with the property have been discharged.”
The Register went on to say, “When a mortgage is paid off, a mortgage discharge document needs to be recorded with the Registry of Deeds to clear a homeowner’s property title. A discharge is a document (typically one page) issued by the lender, usually with a title such as “Discharge of Mortgage” or “Satisfaction of Mortgage.”
In many instances stated O’Donnell, “Discharges are often filed directly by banks or settlement attorneys with the Registry as part of a property sale or as a result of a refinancing transaction. In other cases, the mortgage discharge is sent to the property owner who is then responsible for making sure the document is recorded at the Registry.”
“Whether or not a discharge is recorded by the lending institution or the individual property owner, it is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to check and make sure that all necessary documents have been recorded at the Registry of Deeds,” stated O’Donnell.
The Register further mentioned that there have been cases where no discharge has been recorded against a long paid off mortgage. Unfortunately, many of the lending institutions that provided funds for these mortgages in the first place are no longer in existence, in most cases these financial entities have merged with another lending institution.
If a property owner needs to retrieve an original discharge of a mortgage and is unclear which lending institution is now responsible for providing the document, an option is to contact the Massachusetts Division of Banks at 1-800-495-2265. This government agency can assist the consumer in tracking down contact information for the lending institution that is responsible for the mortgage.
When recording a discharge, the original document is required. The Registry of Deeds does not accept photo copies or faxed copies of documents. The filing fee, set by state statute, is $76.00.
In conclusion O’Donnell stated, “After paying off all the mortgages on their property, homeowners want to be assured that they have clear title to their property, especially if they are contemplating selling it. Being diligent and aware of what is required will go a long way in giving the homeowner peace of mind. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is staffed with a team of customer service representatives who can be reached Monday through Friday, 8:30AM-4:30PM at 781-461-6101. These representatives have been trained in researching documents and are well versed on the subject of mortgage discharges and what, if necessary, needs to be done to clear title to a property.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Department via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org.