A patch of bad weather and the loss of one critical business day, contributed to the downturn in the Norfolk County real estate and lending markets for the month of February 2017.
Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “The inclement weather in the second week of February and the loss of 1 business day, with February 2016 being a leap year, were primary factors in the reduction of real estate activity. We also noticed a reduced number of high-end sales which contributed to the decline in total volume and average sales price.”
Register O’Donnell stated, “The month of February saw a 2% reduction in the number of deeds recorded year over year from 1,042 to 1,019. More striking was the total volume of residential and commercial sales coming in at $338 million, a 35% reduction from February 2016. Also, the average sales price, again both residential and commercial, fell 34% to $594,915. Overall, the number of land documents recorded at the Registry during February was 9,905, a 7% reduction from the previous year.”
The lending market also saw declines during February 2017. A total of 1,691 mortgages were recorded, a 12% reduction from the previous year. The total amount of mortgage borrowing also fell 48% to $700 million; the decline was significantly influenced by a $479 million mortgage recorded in February 2016.
Norfolk County homeowners continued to avail themselves of the benefits of the Homestead Act. A total of 674 Homesteads were recorded in February, a 2% increase year over year. “The Homestead law provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge Norfolk County residents to consider this consumer protection tool,” noted O’Donnell.
A bright spot for February was the reduction in foreclosure activity. A total of 16 foreclosure deeds were recorded compared to 30 the previous February. In addition, the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process, was down to 49 filings compared to 55 in February 2016.
Register O’Donnell stated, “I remain optimistic that we are now finally turning the corner when it comes to the issues of foreclosure, a significant problem we have steadily faced for nearly a decade. With that said, one foreclosure is one too many. We need to remain diligent that any homeowner facing a challenge with their monthly mortgage payments are getting the help and counseling they need.
The Registry continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks SouthernMass, 508-587-0950 to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage. Another option is to contact the Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at 617-573-3333.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “While Norfolk County continues to be a destination location for individuals and families to live and work, there are two significant factors that will impact how the housing and lending markets take shape in 2017. One key factor will be the amount of housing inventory available for consumers. The other major issue will be whether or not the Federal Reserve follows through on its promise to increase interest rates.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.