Save. Prevent. Preserve.

How the Register of Deeds can better serve the residents of Suffolk County

Property is one of the most vital and valuable resources in our region.

As a candidate for the Suffolk County Register of Deeds my vision for this office is about 3 words: Save. Prevent. Preserve.

As a practicing attorney who frequently handles real estate law I know how to rejuvenate and modernize this office so it does more to service property owners throughout Suffolk County. I will provide resources to help you Save your home, Prevent foreclosures, and Preserve your wealth.

An example of that comes in understanding the difference between the HAMP/HARP mortgage programs.

Since 2009 when the Obama Administration created the Making Homes Affordable Program, more than 2 million homeowners have taken advantage of these programs allowing them to stay in their homes. By adjusting their mortgages through either the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) or the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), homeowners on the brink during the peak of the financial crisis could regain some sense of grip and control over their financial situation.

But there is a huge difference between these two programs.

The HAMP program allowed homeowners to temporarily modify their existing loan to a payment of 31% or less of their income for a period of five years. Starting in 2014 homeowners who first took advantage of this program began to see an increase in their monthly payments. According to Bankrate, some 30,000 homeowners were affected by the end of the modification period in 2014 and over 2 million in 2015. At the end of the 5-year period homeowners who took advantage of the HAMP program see an interest rate increase of 1% every year until it reaches the average mortgage rate at the time of the modification.

Homeowners who took advantage of the HAMP program are faced with a stark reality. Imagine paying $1000/month for your home for five years and then having to pay $1500-$2000/month. Five years is a long time to get used to a lower mortgage payment, some homeowners may struggle to pay now. Without proper financial planning this will result in foreclosures for these families and a loss in the community for us all.

Through the HARP program, however, homeowners can lower their monthly payments and interest rate over the life of their loan, but homeowners need to become aware that such help exists and act quickly to take advantage. Because the opportunity to change from HAMP to HARP will be gone this December 2016.

This kind of information is vital to homeowners and to our communities. Invested neighbors make our collective neighborhoods better: we fight for school improvements together, we fight for safer streets together, we fight for our children’s future together. It is time to give our communities a fighting chance by providing them with tools and resources to save their homes, prevent foreclosure, and preserve that personal and community wealth.

The Registry of Deeds is the one place where intents to foreclose and foreclosure deeds are filed, so this office has the data to help local, state and non-profits proactively get information out about the end of HAMP and how to apply for HARP. By sharing information about such downward trends in the housing market the Deeds office can also work to develop ways to prevent the crisis of 2009 from happening again.

The Registry of Deeds is filled with useful and usable data that is currently untapped, but under my watch that would change. For the past 10 years, I have worked on housing related matters, from affordable housing to assisting in the drafting and passing of the Act to Stabilize Neighborhoods. This piece of legislation allows for protection of tenant rights when the home they live in is faced with foreclosure, allowing homeowners 60 days to cure any defaults on their loan before banks can begin the foreclosure process.

I know how to get things done and shape ideas into action.

There is a wealth of data that exists within the Registry. The time has come to transform and reimagine this office as a critical resource that helps families save their homes, prevent neighborhoods from blighted buildings that destroy our community’s integrity, and most critically preserve the wealth and legacy of ownership that gives our neighborhoods, our region, and our country its roots.

This race, and the role of the Register of Deeds, is about more than being a keeper of records, it is about being an advocate to help people.

The place you go to acquire wealth should be the same place you go to preserve it.

Photo Credit: Adrianne Mathiowetz

Stephanie was born and raised in Mattapan, where she currently resides. Her home is filled with the love of her husband and children (those of the eight who still live there). She is a practicing attorney dealing with criminal and real estate law. Stephanie has firsthand, personal experience with the impact properly managed government programs can have at opening doors and changing lives. She was a participant in the METCO program and graduated from Boston Public Schools. Stephanie holds a B.A. from Northeastern University and a law degree from Suffolk University.

Stephanie is running for the Massachusetts Suffolk County Register of Deeds in the Special Democratic Primary on Thursday, September 8th.

Follow her on Twitter (@SEverettBoston) and on Facebook (SEverettBoston).

For more information on Stephanie’s campaign visit: