Dedham, MA – Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that Norfolk County recordings for the month of May 2023 indicate a continued decrease in overall real estate activity, with significant drops in average property sale prices and the total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales as compared to May 2022.
“As compared to last year, we are still seeing a decrease in overall real estate activity, however, this month the decrease in document volume was less pronounced than in previous months,” noted Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell. “Despite the overall decline in activity throughout the county, there are still pockets of the market here in Norfolk County that are seeing growth and stability, particularly in certain neighborhoods and property types. Additionally, while overall real estate activity is down compared to 2022, the market continues to show steady seasonal fluctuations month over month.”
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds recorded 9,172 documents in May 2023. This was 21% less than in May 2022 but 20% more than in April 2023.
Register O'Donnell explained, “The decline in overall real estate activity can be attributed to a number of likely factors, including rising interest rates, a slowdown in new construction projects, and a lack of existing inventory. The housing market has become increasingly competitive and difficult for consumers, especially first-time homebuyers, who may struggle to find affordable options in desirable areas.”
Overall lending activity showed a continued downward trend for the month of May. A total of 1,435 mortgages were recorded this month, 37% less than a year ago at the same time, but up 30% from last month.
“May saw the largest monthly volume of mortgages and the smallest decrease from the previous year so far in 2023,” noted Register O’Donnell. “This may suggest that while some homeowners are hesitant to make moves with average mortgage interest rates above 6%, others are not dissuaded by current interest rates, but time will tell if this trend continues.”
The number of deeds for May 2023, which reflect real estate sales and transfers, both commercial and residential, was 1,353, a decrease of 16% from May 2022 but an increase of 21% from the previous month of April.
“The decrease in the number of deeds is likely due to a lack of inventory of new and existing homes, which means fewer homes are listed, keeping costs above pre-pandemic prices,” noted Register O’Donnell. “Higher prices also mean that some buyers may be struggling to find affordable homes within their budget, leading to a decrease in the number of potential buyers and further decreasing the number of home sales.”
Sale prices for May appear to have dropped compared to May 2022. The average sale price in May was $987,932, a 22% decrease from May 2022, but a 7% increase from April 2023. The total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales is down, decreasing 43% from one year ago and increasing 40% from last month.
“While prices have come down from a year ago, the demand to live and own a home in the communities that make up Norfolk County remains high,” said O’Donnell. “This may suggest that the decrease in dollar volume may be due to a shortage of available properties and a decline in the number of individuals with the ability to buy.”
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely monitoring the foreclosure market. In May 2023, there were 7 foreclosure deeds recorded as a result of mortgage foreclosures taking place in Norfolk County, whereas in May 2022, there were 5 recorded. Additionally, this month, there were 28 notices to foreclose, the first step in the foreclosure process, more than the 21 recorded in May 2022.
“The increase in the number of these notices is troubling. It suggests that more of our neighbors may have financial difficulties in the future,” said O'Donnell. “We will continue to monitor these figures.”
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.
“If you are having difficulty paying your monthly mortgage, please consider contacting one of these non-profit agencies for help and guidance,” said Register O’Donnell.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “It is still early into the home buying season, the period where we typically see the most home sales, and despite recent declines in the market, there are still areas in Norfolk County that are seeing growth and stability.”