blue and gray concrete house with attic during twilight
Photo by Binyamin Mellish on

Legal claims to real estate in Massachusetts are given priority according to the order of their recording at the registry of deeds.

This rule is established by  M.G.L. c. 184, section 4.  According to Land Court, this statute

makes Massachusetts what is commonly referred to as a ‘race-notice jurisdiction,’ meaning that the subsequent purchaser of property, who records the deed, will prevail over a prior buyer, who did not record, unless the subsequent purchaser has actual notice of the unrecorded transfer.

See Mitchell v. US Bank National Association, 2014 WL 1159797.

This principle also applies to mortgages, liens, and most other legal claims to real estate.

Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that your attorney conducts a title examination of the property you’re buying in order to determine if there are any legal claims to the land that will have priority over yours.

It’s also essential that you do not delay in recording documents that establish your legal rights to the land.

If you have any questions about real estate law, please contact me at