Massachusetts law about real estate

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on real estate law.

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, s.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.

Court rules and procedures

Massachusetts Land Court Rules.  Also available as an ebook.

Guidelines on Registered Land, Mass. Land Court, February 27, 2009 (see additional resources below).

Manual of Instructions for the Survey of Lands and Preparation of Plans 2006, Mass. Land Court (see additional resources below).
"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."

Additional Resources

Registries of Deeds

Massachusetts Registries 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."

Greenery Rehabilitation Group, Inc. v. Antaramian, 36 Mass. App. Ct. 73 (1994)
Generally, a seller has no duty to disclose problems with the property. "Such nondisclosure does not amount to fraud and is not a conventional tort of any kind." Concealment by a seller in "the simple sense of failure to reveal, with nothing to show any peculiar duty to speak," is not the same as misrepresentation.

Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts v. National Real Estate Information Services, 459 Mass. 512 (2011)
The "closing or settlement of real property conveyances requires 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 constituted the practice of law in Massachusetts." Outlines what constitutes unauthorized practice of law in real estate transactions.

Web sources

Buying real estate

Selling real estate

  • Selling Your Home, A. Joseph Ross
    Describes the basics of how to sell a house or condominium in Massachusetts
  • Selling Your House, Nolo, 2015
    "With the help of this book you can figure out important things, like what to do first after deciding to sell your home, what to look for in and expect from a real estate agent, how to get top dollar for your home, how the law protects you (and what it requires of you) when you enter into a purchase agreement with a buyer, and much more." Requires library card for access.

Registered land

Other topics

  • Discharging Mature Mortgages, Lowell Register of Deeds, Feb. 14, 2008
    Explains "how to discharge an old mortgage that's past it's maturity date."
  • Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog
    "Legal insight and commentary about Massachusetts residential and commercial real estate law"
  • Real Estate and the Deceased Spouse, Lowell Register of Deeds, Feb. 27, 2009
    Clearly explains the steps to be taken when one spouse dies and the couple owned their home as tenants by the entirety
  • The Attorney General's Guide to Manufactured Housing Community Law, Mass. Attorney General, Nov. 2015 (see additional resources below)
    "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."
  • Eminent Domain Brochure, Mass. Highway Department, 2011 (see additional resources below)
    "The purpose of this brochure is to explain the Eminent Domain land acquisition process, and answer frequently asked questions about the process."

Additional Resources

Handling Residential Real Estate Transactions in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf.

Real Estate Title Practice in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf.

Last update: January 25, 2017


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