[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By Robby McKittrick
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Wednesday, October 17, the Council of Aging hosted a talk at the Center at the Heights featuring Norfolk County Register of Deeds William O'Donnell.
Around 36 Needham residents visited the senior center for their monthly breakfast and lecturer.
O'Donnell explained why it is important for his office to speak to the senior citizens directly about housing registry information.
“We try to pride ourselves on customer service at the registry, and this is an extension [of that],” he explained. “People are interested in the information, and we feel that we should bring the information out, and hopefully it helps people.”
O'Donnell began the talk by explaining what they do as an organization.
“The mission is to make sure [that] the [housing] records get recorded accurately, [that] the records are secure, that businesses and people like yourself, when you go to buy and sell your house in Needham … can depend on the records, and that these records are accessible,” he said.
Due to the advancement of technology, the registry has changed over the last few years.
“We try to modernize the registry of deeds,” explained O'Donnell. “We try to deliver services in a different way [now].”
With the internet, the registry can now bring their customer service to a variety of different areas. However, O'Donnell also explained that they still print out the information and keep it secure in over 20,000 books.
“We are one of the few registries that still print books,” O'Donnell said.
The registry has a customer service station for anyone who has any problems or questions. O'Donnell told the seniors that they can call their department or come into their office to ask any questions that they may have in the future.
“We’ll do the work for you,” he said.
O'Donnell then discussed the Homestead Act and why it is important in regards to securing one’s home.
“The homestead puts the house off limits,” he said. “[The bank] cannot force the sale of your home to satisfy a debt … It’s an added protection.”
“The biggest asset most of you have … is your home,” O'Donnell added. “Protect your home.”
O'Donnell further explained to the seniors that their house is significant and that people will try to tempt them to pay for paperwork that they can receive for free from the registry, such as a homestead form or a certified copy of one’s deed.
“[These scams] keep happening,” he said. “They target everybody. Don’t fall for it.”
This talk was one of many held by the Council of Aging. The goal of the lectures is always to educate the seniors on an issue that relates to them.
“I try to make it something that is important to them,” explained Program Coordinator for Senior Services Aicha Kelly.
Generally, the residents enjoy the talks and get something out of it, and this talk was no different.
“[The talk] was extremely helpful,” said Needham senior John Kalin. “I think it’s very relevant to the seniors in Needham because of the increase in taxes in [the town], and people want to hold onto their houses and understand what they own.”