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Massachusetts law about real estate

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on real estate law. This is a general page, but there are many more pages on various aspects of real estate law. Be sure to see "Related" for other important topics.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.183 Conveyances by deed, mortgage discharge

MGL c.183A Condominiums

MGL c.183B Time shares

MGL c.184 General provisions relative to real property

MGL c.93, § 114  "Psychologically impacted" properties. Sellers and brokers do not have to disclose to buyers or tenants the fact that a property is perceived to be tainted by the health of a previous occupant, a murder or suicide, or paranormal phenomena. However, they may not be deceitful in answers to questions about the property.

St.1983, c.527 Condominium conversion

Court rules and procedures

Massachusetts Land Court rules.  Also available as an ebook.

Guidelines on registered land, Mass. Land Court, February 27, 2009.

Manual of instructions for the survey of lands and preparation of plans, Mass. Land Court, 2006.
"This manual is issued for the information and guidance of land surveyors preparing surveys and plans to be filed in the Land Court. It is intended as a guide to the minimum requirements for what is commonly referred to in this commonwealth as a "Land Court Survey"... Compliance with these instructions is mandatory, and no survey or plan will be accepted for filing unless these requirements have been fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Land Court's Survey Division."

Registries of Deeds

Massachusetts Registry of Deeds, Mass. Secretary of State
Provides links to all of the Registries of Deeds, which then provide access to addresses, phone numbers, and websites for the individual registries.

Selected case law

Brennan v. DeCosta, 24 Mass. App. Ct. 968 (1987)
"As a general rule, the title of persons who acquire land bounded by a street or way runs to the center line of the way, G. L. c. 183, § 58 , and carries with it the right to use the way along its entire length... To that general rule, however, there are limitations."

Casey v. Papamechail, Misc. 18-000620, Mass. Land Court (2021)
Criteria for the reformation of deeds set forth by the court.  In this case, a deed reformation (to correct the wrong property described in the deed) was conditioned on MassHealth being allowed to make a claim for recovery of benefits.

Michelson v. Sherman, 310 Mass. 774 (1942)
The statute of frauds requires a written document “which recites the essential elements of the contract with reasonable certainty.”

The Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts v. National Real Estate Information Services, 459 Mass. 512 (2011)
The "closing or settlement of the types of real estate transactions described in the record require not only the presence but the substantive participation of an attorney on behalf of the mortgage lender, and that certain services connected with real property conveyances constitute the practice of law in Massachusetts." Outlines what constitutes unauthorized practice of law in real estate transactions.

Web sources

Buying real estate

  • Buying a home, A. Joseph Ross, 2011. 
    Describes the basics of buying a home in Massachusetts.
  • The homebuying process in Massachusetts, Division of Banks
    Brief overview of  mortgage types and the various steps of purchasing a home from securing a loan to closing on the property.

  • How to buy a home in Massachusetts, Nolo
    Covers hiring a real estate agent and lawyer, making an offer, examining the property for defects, and the responsibilities of the closing attorney.

Selling real estate

  • Selling your home, A. Joseph Ross, 2009.
    Describes the basics of how to sell a house or condominium in Massachusetts.

Registered land

Other topics

  • The Attorney General's guide to manufactured housing community law, Mass. Attorney General, Nov. 2017 
    "This guide provides a comprehensive discussion of the legal rights and responsibilities of residents and owners of manufactured housing communities. In particular, it discusses M.G.L. c.140, §§ 32F-32S, often called the Manufactured Housing Act, the Attorney General's manufactured housing regulations, and other relevant housing laws. Understanding the law can help community owners and residents avoid disputes, resolve those that do occur, and, when necessary, take steps to enforce legal rights."
  • How do I take someone's name off of my deed? Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, Jan. 1, 2009
    Clearly explains the steps to be taken whether the person to be removed is alive or deceased. 
  • Joint ownership of real estate in Massachusetts, Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, August 23, 2017. Concise explanation of the three types of joint ownerships.

Print sources

Buying a second home : income, getaway, or retirement by Craig Venezia, Nolo, 2009.

Crocker’s notes on common forms, 11th ed., MCLE, 2 vol., loose-leaf.

Handling residential real estate transactions in Massachusetts, 4th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.

Massachusetts conveyancers’ handbook with forms, by Edward C. Mendler, 4th ed., West, 2008 with supplement.

Massachusetts real estate, by Robert Marzelli, 3rd ed., Lexis, 2005 with supplement.

Nolo's essential guide to buying your first home by Ilona Bray, Nolo, 2020.

Real estate law with forms, (Mass. Practice v.28-28C), West, annual edition.

Real estate title practice in Massachusetts, 3rd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.

Saving the family cottage : creative ways to preserve your cottage, cabin, camp or vacation home for future generations by Stuart J. Hollander, Nolo, 2021.

Selling your house : Nolo's essential guide by Ilona Bray, Nolo, 2021.

Contact

Online

Law library locations and phone numbers Library locations 
Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com
Last updated: December 1, 2021
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