Continuing low real estate inventory, higher interest rates and reduced mortgage lending were three major factors which led to a flat real estate market for the month of July, according to Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell.
Register O’Donnell stated, “Empirical evidence shows there is little doubt that certain housing and lending dynamics are having a sluggish effect on real estate activity in Norfolk County.” He noted that for the past of month of July a total of 1,757 properties, both residential and commercial, were sold in Norfolk County representing a minimal 1% increase from the previous year. Other economic indicators were even less impressive for July, such as the 3% drop in the average sales price for the same time period in 2016 and a 3% year over year reduction in total sales volume.
Furthermore, lending activity also showed decreases for the month of July. A total of 2,407 mortgages were recorded during the month, a 14% decrease compared to July 2016. “Higher interest rates,” noted O’Donnell, “and the prospect of rate increases through the end of the 2017 calendar year are making consumers think twice before borrowing money to pay for high ticket expenses such as home improvements.”
An aberration seen during the month was the total amount of residential and commercial borrowing, increased by 267% to $4.6 billion. However, this is mainly explained by a large $1.6 billion mortgage taken out against a commercial property bordering Weymouth and Quincy.
Foreclosure activity was a mixed bag. A total of 18 foreclosure deeds were recorded in July compared to 17 in July 2016. Where the foreclosure story gets more promising was the total number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, closing at 34, a sharp reduction from the 43 recordings for the same time last year. “While one foreclosure recording is one too many, the reduced number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings is a positive trend,” stated the Register.
For those who are facing challenges paying their mortgage, the Registry continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950 to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another option is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400.
On the consumer front, the number of Homesteads recorded in Norfolk County was 1,230 for the month of July, a 2% reduction from the same time period in 2016. While the reduced number of Homesteads can be explained in part by sluggish real estate sales seen in the County, Register O’Donnell noted, “A Homestead is an important consumer protection tool that I urge property owners to consider. By recording a Homestead, a property owner receives limited protection against the forced sale of their primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “July 2017 was admittedly an unremarkable month for real estate in Norfolk County. The trend lines – flat real estate sales and reduced lending activity - are the same trend lines seen beyond the county. Until we see increased levels of real estate inventory, particularly for first time home buyers, the market will remain flat. In regards to lending activity, all signs indicate the Fed will increase interest rates causing consumers to pause further before borrowing money.”
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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 email@example.com.