But we went to a couple open houses this weekend, and as a result of my lurking on a blog here or there or everywhere, I now know where to find (free) a fair amount of information about mortgages, deeds, etc. for just about any address in Massachusetts. Free is good. Free is also not so good. Because I've now gone from just tracking back and looking at the mortgage lines and whether they have been discharged or not, to pulling up the docs to see whether they are promissory notes or HELOCs or whatever. The goal, of course, is to try to determine what the outstanding debt on the property is, in order to make a guess at how much pricing flexibility there might be (which is to say, if negotiations will necessarily involve trying to convince a lender to do a short sale, I've pretty much lost interest already).
Nevertheless, just say no to reading other people's mortgage paperwork. I'm sure, over time, I'll get better and faster at this. But still.