Register O’Donnell Emphasizes Need to File Mortgage Discharges
Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell
Register O’Donnell stated, “When holding office hours, and speaking before concerned citizens in each of the Norfolk County communities, one of the most commonly asked questions I receive from homeowners is whether they have clear title to their property. One way to check on your title is by accessing the Registry’s 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 relative to that loan. 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 filed directly by banks or settlement closing 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 becomes 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 prudent that the property owner make sure that all necessary documents have been recorded at the Registry of Deeds.”
The Register further mentioned that there have been cases where no discharge has been recorded against a long paid off mortgage. Unfortunately, some of the lending institutions that provided funds for these mortgages are no longer in existence. In other cases, financial entities have merged with another lending entity. “You cannot sell your property without having your mortgage discharged,” the Register warned.
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. Being diligent and aware of what is required will go a long way in giving the homeowner peace of mind. Therefore, I again urge homeowners to make sure their mortgage discharge has been filed with the Registry of Deeds once their mortgage has been paid off. There is no reason to wait.”
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 consult the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org or contact our Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101.