Register O'Donnell Reports on Real Estate Activity in Norfolk County
Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell reported that November real estate numbers relative to Norfolk County real estate activity were off, but there were a few aspects of the real estate activity to be hopeful about.
"The Norfolk County real estate market" noted Register O'Donnell, "has started to become sluggish entering into the winter months. There were 14,364 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds which is a 15% decrease over last year's November document volume."
"The number of deeds which evidence real estate sales and transfers, both commercial and residential, increased a modest 1% in November. The average sales price during the month was $1,538,528, an impressive 42% increase compared to November 2021. Total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales also showed solid gains, increasing a whopping 37% to over $1.4 billion," noted the Register.
Despite the deeds figure holding its own, overall lending activity showed a decrease for the month of November. A total of 3,226 mortgages were recorded during the month, a 25% decrease compared to November 2020. "Higher interest rates," noted O'Donnell, "and the prospect of rate increases through the end of the 2021 calendar year are making consumers think twice before borrowing money to pay for high ticket expenses such as home improvements. Also many consumers have previously refinanced given the past low interest rate environment." In addition, during the month of November 2021 the total amount of residential and commercial borrowing decreased by 7% to $1.7 billion.
One continuing cause for concern, however in Norfolk County, was foreclosures. A moratorium on foreclosures in place during the pandemic in 2020 was lifted on November 17, 2020. This moratorium was in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely watching the foreclosure market. O'Donnell stated, "During November of 2021 there were 4 foreclosure deeds recorded as a result of foreclosure processes taking place in Norfolk County. In addition, there were 13 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded here in Norfolk County in November of 2021. A foreclosure recording is very impactful on those being foreclosed on. During November of 2020 there were 3 Foreclosure Deeds and 9 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages filed. These numbers remind us that some of our neighbors continue to face financial challenges", said O'Donnell. "We will continue to monitor these numbers."
Additionally, for the past several years, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has partnered with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 to help anyone facing challenges paying their mortgage. Another option for homeowners is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Register O'Donnell stated, "If you are having difficulty paying your monthly mortgage, please consider contacting one of these non-profit agencies for help and guidance."
Homestead recordings by owners of homes and condominiums decreased this year at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in October. There was a 2% decrease in homestead recordings in November 2021 compared to November 2020. "A Homestead," noted O'Donnell, "provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. It is great to see folks protecting the biggest asset most of us have, our homes. I would urge anyone who has not availed themselves of this important consumer protection tool to consider doing so. Please visit the Registry website at www.norfolkdeeds.org to get more information on homestead protection."
Register O'Donnell concluded, "Without question November was a mixed bag month for real estate activity in Norfolk County. Available real estate inventory continues to be a constant source of concern in Norfolk County. It's especially been a problem for first-time homebuyers attempting to crack the market. Also, things may be slowing down compared to past real estate indicators. The Registry of Deeds was operational every work day during the pandemic. The Registry of Deeds continues to be open to the public for business, however that is being evaluated as the COVID-19 developments unfold. The drop-off box located at the main entrance of the Registry Building for the time being will continue to be available for use by those members of the public who may not be comfortable in entering the Registry of Deeds Building. Land documents are being recorded electronically for many of our institutional users. We are also receiving documents in person, via regular mail, Federal Express and from those placed in our drop-off box located just outside our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA."
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry's website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at email@example.com.