Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that the increases seen in real estate activity in Norfolk County is continuing. The month of July in 2021 from a real estate perspective remained hot as there were increases in a number of real estate indicators over the same time period in 2020.
Register O’Donnell stated, “The Norfolk County real estate market continues to be steady. There were 16,623 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds which is a 1% increase over last year’s July document volume. There were 2,061 deeds recorded out of this document volume, representing a 16% increase over July of last year. Average sale price, again including both residential and commercial sales, increased 21% over 2020 to $1,013,839.90.
Even though there was a considerable increase to the monies for mortgages the number of mortgages recorded decreased over the previous year’s numbers. There were 3,443 mortgages recorded during the month which is an 17% decrease over 2020. Total amount of money borrowed for mortgages county wide was well over 2 billon, a 61% increase compared to July 2020. “While some of the mortgages are due to purchases and sales of real estate, there are a large number of individuals and families taking advantage off historically low interest rates by refinancing existing mortgages. Individuals have different motivations to refinance. Some refinance to reduce their monthly payments, others to take some years off their debt while still others are using the money to pay for home improvements and other capital expenditures” said Register O’Donnell.
Register O’Donnell went on to state, “There has been a strong demand for housing, single family housing particular, coupled with a limited supply of available housing stock and historically low interest rates which could be motivating buyers to do what is necessary to secure housing. The growth in numbers seen in 2020 continues into 2021.”
A moratorium on foreclosures in place during the pandemic in 2020 was lifted on October 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 July of 2021 there were 5 foreclosure deeds recorded as a result of foreclosure processes taking place in Norfolk County. Additionally, there were 5 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded here in Norfolk County. A foreclosure recording is very impactful on those being foreclosed on. July of 2020 there were no Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages and 2 foreclosure Deeds. Though it is great to see that the Foreclosure deed numbers have decreased, it is troubling to see the Notices of Foreclosure have increased so much. 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 continue to increase this year at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in July. There was a 7% increase in homestead recordings in July 2021 compared to July 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, “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. However, there is a silver lining in the July real estate statistics and that is based on the optimistic lending numbers that we’ve seen. These figures are very encouraging and tell us reduced interest rates and a robust eastern Massachusetts economy are having a positive effect on the Norfolk County region. The Registry of Deeds was operational every work day during the pandemic. The Registry of Deeds continues to be open for business, however that is being evaluated as the COVID-19 developments unfold. The drop-off box located outside 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.”
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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.