Register of deeds urges homeowners to be wary of misleading real estate offers


PITTSFIELD -- The Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds is warning consumers about the possibility of real estate scams.

Two misleading notices from private companies recently have been sent to local homeowners, according to Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Patricia "Patsy" Harris.

One notice, from a California-based company known as Consumer Advocacy Services, notifies homeowners that for a fee they may be eligible for a special modification on their mortgage. According to Harris, this company charges between $1,300 and $1,500 for their services.

Those interested in modifying their mortgage should either notify their bank or contact their lawyer, Harris said.

The other notice, from a business called Property Transfer Service, offers homeowners copies of their deed and a property profile for $83.

Anyone can obtain copies of their deeds at the registry for $1 a page, or access that information for free online at

"Most deeds are 1 to 3 pages," Harris said. "We will assist (consumers) with obtaining a copy of their deed. If you can't come in here, call us. We will provide that for them."

Other companies may be soliciting local homeowners with both of these proposals, she said.

Property Transfer Service's fee is identical to the cost that another firm, Secured Document, offered Berkshire residents for the same service last fall. Harris does not know if the two companies are related.

In November, former Middle Berkshire Register of Deeds Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. asked the state Attorney General's Office to stop Secured Document from offering those services. Nuciforo referred to the practice as a "scam of the worst order."

According to Harris, the state Attorney General's office has not taken action on Nuciforo's request. She said other registers of deeds across the state have made similar requests to the state Attorney General's office, and that the solicitation notices seem to be increasing, especially in eastern Massachusetts.

"I've been hearing about it on and off for about a year and a half," said Harris.

Harris said the solicitors appear to be targeting elderly people.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

(413) 496-6224


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