Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted that there were mixed results when it came to the Norfolk County housing market for the recently concluded third quarter.
O’Donnell noted, “The total number of real estate sales in Norfolk County during July through September for both residential and commercial property was 5,157, which was only a 1% increase from the previous year. This sluggishness stems from a continued lack of inventory to meet the needs of the market. It has been a problem now for a considerable period of time and has caused hardship for those looking to buy properties, especially for first-time homeowners.”
Also, the Register mentioned that the total dollar real estate sales volume, again for both residential and commercial real estate, increased by a significant 15% to $2.5 billion. Additionally, the average property sale price for the quarter was $728,692, an 11% increase year over year.
Mortgage activity declined in the 3rd quarter. There were 6,621 mortgages recorded compared to 7,300 during the same time period in 2017. Additionally, total mortgage borrowing fell by 65% to $2.7 billion. However, this number was dramatically skewed by a $1.6 billion mortgage taken out against a commercial property in Weymouth during the 3rd quarter 2017. Another key factor in the reduction of mortgage borrowing, noted Register O’Donnell, were the small but noticeable hikes in interest rates.
On the consumer front, there was a 1% increase in the number of Homesteads recorded during the 3rd quarter. A total of 3,572 Homesteads were recorded compared to 3,543 year over year. The Register stated, “A Homestead 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 important consumer protection tool.”
Foreclosure activity was mixed during the 3rd quarter. The total number of foreclosure deeds recorded was 63, a small 3% increase year over year. The numbers were more sobering with Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process. There were 127 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages recorded during the quarter, a 24.5% increase year over year.
O’Donnell noted, “I continue to be concerned with the number of foreclosure filings. The Registry of Deeds continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950 to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage document. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “Ongoing issues with available inventory are causing prospective buyers to pay increased amounts for real estate. These prices are having an adverse impact on first-time home buyers who are trying to purchase property at an affordable cost. Furthermore, the recent increases in interest rate by the Fed may cause consumers to think twice before borrowing money and going further in debt.”
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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.