During the 2nd quarter of 2017 (April-June), Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported county real estate sales activity exhibited solid gains. However, this good news was somewhat tarnished by continuing declines in lending activity, possibly spurred by rising interest rates.
Register O’Donnell noted, “The positive news for the 2nd quarter was a 4% increase in combined residential and commercial real estate sales compared to the same quarter from the previous year. In addition, the total dollar sales volume and average real estate sales price, again both residential and commercial, increased by a significant 20% and 13% respectively. The average real estate price, combining both residential and commercial sales, for the quarter was $778,122.”
Overall, the number of land documents recorded (such as deeds, mortgages, liens, foreclosures, mortgage discharges, homesteads etc.) during the Registry’s 2nd quarter was 39,645, a 6% decrease from the previous year. O’Donnell noted, “This decline can be attributed to a significant 16% reduction in lending activity during the quarter.”
Specifically, 7,255 mortgages were recorded at the Registry during the quarter compared to 8,622 for the same time period in 2016. Total mortgage borrowing was $3.7 billion for the second quarter compared to $5.2 billion during the 2nd quarter 2016. “Clearly,” noted O’Donnell, “The increases seen in interest rates are causing consumers to be cautious when contemplating borrowing to pay for big ticket items such as home renovations.”
More Norfolk County homeowners continued to benefit from the Homestead Act. A total of 3,562 Homesteads were recorded during the 2nd quarter, a 5% 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.
Foreclosure activity in Norfolk County was mixed during the quarter. The total number of foreclosure deeds recorded during the 2nd quarter 2017 was 78, a substantial 30% increase year over year. However, this sobering news was lessened by the reduced number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process. 160 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages were recorded during the 2nd quarter, a significant 25.9% reduction from the previous year.
O’Donnell stated, “While the increase in foreclosure deed filings was disconcerting, I continue to be optimistic that the reduced numbers we are seeing with Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings bodes well for the future.”
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 document. A third option is to contact the Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at 617-573-3333.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “Considering the continuing issues we are seeing with low real estate inventory, I was buoyed by the real estate sales activity figures for the quarter. Conversely, with the continuing uptick in interest rates, I do not see lending activity trend lines changing for the foreseeable future.”
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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.