What are Massachusetts Property Records?
Property records in Massachusetts are public records that contain information about the ownership, use, and transfer of real estate within the state. The record custodians of these records are typically county government offices, such as County Clerks or Registry of Deeds offices. At the state level, they are maintained by the Registry of Deeds Division of the Office of the Massachusetts State Secretary. Generally, all Massachusetts property records filed with a county office are public information and available for anyone to view upon request, according to the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Act.
In addition to public property records, some counties may also have private property records that will require the permission of the record custodian or other parties to access them. These records are often associated with probate court matters and include wills and estate documents.
The information provided by Massachusetts property records can be invaluable for buyers and sellers when entering into real estate transactions. It helps ensure that all parties know of any potential issues before signing a legal contract.
Are Massachusetts Property Records Public?
Yes. All property records in the state are public records and can be accessed by anyone according to the provisions of the Massachusetts FOIA. However, selected records may be exempt from public disclosure as ordered by court order or on account of the sensitive information contained therein.
Property records are available for public viewing through government agencies or third-party aggregate websites. Accessing property records through third-party sites is typically straightforward, and the records are not geographically limited. However, because the sites are not government-affiliated and run independently, the information contained in the records may vary. Searching parties should include the following details to obtain complete property records:
- The property's exact location.
- The property owner's details
What Information is Included in Massachusetts Property Records?
The information found in Massachusetts Property records can generally be divided into several categories.
- Ownership – This category typically includes the names of current and past owners, the date of acquisition, and details on title transfers;
- Location – Information related to the geographic location of a property, such as address, lot number, street name, municipality, or county;
- Property Characteristics –This category may include information about the size of a parcel or building, including square footage measurements, number of bedrooms and bathrooms;
- Physical characteristics– Includes structural details like the age of the building, type of construction material used (wood frame or brick), exterior features (swimming pool), etc.;
- Assessments – Assessments typically include the value of a property based on appraisals conducted by local municipalities;
- Legal Descriptions – Recorded information about the legal description of a parcel, such as size and boundaries;
- Liens or Encumbrances – Lis Pendens details any pending court cases that involve the property or claims made against it (e.g., unpaid mortgages, back taxes).
- Land Use Restrictions - Information related to deed restrictions or zoning regulations about how a property can be used;
- Environmental Hazards - Includes reports detailing any known environmental hazards on a particular piece of land (e.g., asbestos contamination).
All of this information is critical in helping individuals understand the true value of a property in Massachusetts and any potential liabilities associated with it.
Where to Search Massachusetts Public Property Records?
Massachusetts public property records can be searched online through the Massachusetts Land Records Information System (MLRIS). The MLRIS is an online searchable database that contains real estate information from all Registry of Deeds offices in the state. It provides documents such as deeds, mortgages, releases, and other records related to ownership or changes in title. Inquirers may also visit the respective Registry of Deeds offices in the county where the property is located.
In Middlesex County, requestors may query the office of Middlesex county Register of Deeds in person or via mail. However, these Registries do not provide paper copies of documents. To obtain copies, the requesting party may request through the Massachusetts Land Records Website
How to Do a Property Records Search in Massachusetts?
To do a property records search in Massachusetts, inquirers may visit the MLRIS database and provide the search queries required to facilitate the record search. Users will need to provide the current owner's name and address or parcel identification number to search for a specific property within state limits. In-person queries may also be made to the office of the Register of Deeds in the applicable judicial district. For instance, in Worcester Northern District, requesters may send a written request to:
Worcester Northern District Registry of Deeds
166 Boulder Drive, Suite 202
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Tel: (978) 342-2132
How to Find the Owner of a Massachusetts Property Using Public Records?
People looking to find out who owns a particular piece of real estate in Massachusetts can use public property records to locate the current owner's name. This information is typically available online through the local county registries of deeds or clerks' offices. To search for these records, the requestor will be required to provide the information needed to facilitate the search, including:
- The property address
- Parcel ID number
- Tax bill number
What are Massachusetts Property Records Used For?
Massachusetts property records are used for a variety of different purposes, including:
- Property records in Massachusetts monitor real estate ownership, transfer, and value within the state. This information is vital for buyers and sellers who want to ensure that they know all relevant details about a property before making any decisions.
- Property records can be used by municipalities, developers, and investors to help them identify potential development opportunities or investments that could generate revenue for their communities or portfolios. They may also use these records as part of zoning studies or when considering new construction projects.
- Property records allow lenders and other financial institutions to determine whether a particular property meets their criteria for mortgages or lines of credit. They may also use this data to assess financial risk when approving loans or other financing arrangements.
- Property records can help appraisers and assessors accurately determine the value of a piece of property for tax purposes or to set fair market value when it is being sold.
- Local government agencies use property records to ensure that owners follow all applicable laws and regulations regarding land use and buildings. This helps maintain public safety and ensures that private property is used responsibly.
How to Find Massachusetts Property Tax Records?
To find Massachusetts property tax records, contact the local assessor's office, which handles tax assessments in the area. Alternatively, search the Massachusetts tax assessor's database online and use the owner's name or address to locate the tax record.
What to Do When You Can't Find Property Records in Massachusetts?
If unable to locate records in Massachusetts, inquirers may contact the local county registries of deeds or clerk's office as they may have additional information that isn't available online. They can also consult a professional title search provider who researches and finds client property records. Finally, they may hire an attorney or landman to assist with locating the records. They will be familiar with the legal process of researching public documents and can help track down elusive records.