"It was a year where history came alive, consumer milestones were reached and legislative successes were achieved," noted Register William P. O'Donnell in referring to the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds operation in 2016.
The Register noted that in 2016, the Registry was indeed an extraordinarily busy time when it came to real estate transactions. The Registry collected more that $55 million dollars in revenue and recorded more than 160,000 transactions, including processing approximately 12,500 homestead applications, a 4% increase from 2015.
The Registry in 2016 also hit a couple of milestones. The first was its completion of its 34,000th book of land transactions. "Today for the sake of security and convenience," noted Register O'Donnell, "we maintain documents in 3 forms; hard copy, electronically and on microfilm and our materials are backed up and stored 3 different ways."
On the consumer front, the Registry reached its 500th subscriber milestone for its Consumer Notification Program. The free program allows any county resident to opt in and be alerted when any document is recorded against their name. To sign-up, please see the Registry's website at www.norfolkdeeds.org.
One of the programs brought online this year that the Registry is quite proud of is its "History Comes Alive" transcription project. The initiative, the first of its kind for a New England Registry, makes land recorded documents written in the 18th and 19th centuries in the old cursive handwriting style much easier to read by converting the words to text. This is a great breakthrough for historical commissions and societies as well as genealogists who want to trace their family's history. Famed historian David McCullough sent a note to Register O'Donnell expressing his belief that this project was, "a large and important contribution."
Register O'Donnell noted that public accessibility is a key focal point to the Registry's operation. "In 2016, you didn't need to come to the Registry to get your work done. You could view all documents online from your home or work computer. Additionally, we have added resources to our Customer Service Center which you can call from 8:30AM to 4:30PM, Monday-Friday at 781-461-6101."
In 2016, the Registry focused on upgrading its computer security network, along with educating its workforce not to fall victim to a cyber-attack. On the capital improvement side, it also made several extensive renovations to its historic building opened in 1903.
Register O'Donnell noted that the Massachusetts Registries of Deeds were the recipients of 3 major victories on Beacon Hill in the last year. "We were able to have our tech fund extended through the year 2020 which pays for our projects and initiatives. We were also able to provide input to the Legislature with regards to the Public Records Law so that we can remain responsive and cost efficient in our operations. Lastly, the Governor just signed into law legislation designed to modernize and make more cost efficient how Registries store their vast documentation."
The Register concluded by stating, "The year 2016 was a productive and pivotal one for the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. What was accomplished last year will only make us better equipped to meet the challenges of 2017."
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 Center at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org. Register William P. O'Donnell