Section Review

Electronic recording of registry documents on horizon

Michael Holden is the founder of Michael P. Holden, LLC in Norwell, where he practices civil litigation with an emphasis in personal injury.
Registries of deeds throughout the commonwealth have made real estate conveyancing a more efficient, cost-effective area of practice, particularly for smaller law offices. With Titleview Plus, for example, attorneys researching Plymouth County titles are able to access, view and print documents online dating back to 1685.

"It won't be long before attorneys are able to research a 50-year title without ever leaving the office," said Register John R. Buckley, Jr.

While registries continue to scan indexes, documents and plans to be accessed online, another innovation is quietly being explored and tested. State and county registers have moved beyond a mere discussion of accepting documents submitted for recording electronically and are watching carefully as a pilot project has been undertaken by Middlesex North Register of Deeds Richard Howe.

Howe recently addressed the Registry of Deeds Advisory Committee, comprised of representatives from state and county registries and real estate practitioners, to update them on the progress of the project. (The presentation may be viewed by following the "electronic recording" link at Howe explains that e-recording will eventually allow real estate practitioners the ability to record closing documents and provide timely evidence of recording to the borrower and/or lender without ever leaving the law office.

Mechanically, e-recording will require practitioners to scan documents to be recorded into their own computers and to forward the documents electronically along with such necessary data as parties, property address and consideration. In turn, the registry will accept or reject the documents as it would if the practitioner were standing at the recording counter. Accepted documents will be assigned book and page numbers as they would in the ordinary course. In the event the documents are not accepted for recording, the practitioner is notified electronically as to the basis for rejection. Once the issue is resolved, the document can again be scanned and forwarded for recording.

The registers of deeds clearly recognize the significant potential e-recording holds for improving efficiency for practitioners and registries alike, but they are proceeding with caution, noting concerns with the submission of time-sensitive documents. As a result, it is highly likely that e-recordings will initially be limited to discharges, assignments and similar documents that practitioners often forward to the registry by mail.

As potential issues with time-sensitive documents are identified and registers are satisfied as to the implementation of any necessary safeguards, e-recording of entire closing packages will be just around the corner - and the solo practitioner will remain seated at his desk.

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