Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported today that mortgage lending activity continues at a brisk pace when it comes to the Norfolk County real estate market.
The Register noted, “During the 3rd quarter 2019 (July-September), a total of 8,796 mortgages were recorded, resulting in a 33% increase year over year. The strong performance in lending activity can be directly attributed to low interest rates and the continuing strong economy in eastern Massachusetts. Clearly, consumers are more comfortable about borrowing for big ticket items including housing, home improvements and educational expenses.”
Regarding real estate sales, the total number of transactions in Norfolk County, for both residential and commercial property, was 5,098, a 1% decrease from the previous year’s quarter. “The flat performance in real estate sales,” noted the Register, “can be directly attributed to a continued and persistent lack of available real estate inventory. Homeowners remain skittish about putting their home on the market due to a concern that while they will reap a nice profit on their existing property, they may not be able to afford a new home on the back end.”
The impact of limited real estate inventory was also seen in the continued rise in housing prices. The average real estate cost, again for both residential and commercial, was $826,408, a 13% increase from the 3rd quarter 2018. Total dollar real estate sales for the county was $2.8 billion, a 9% increase for the quarter in comparison to the 3rd quarter of last year.
On the consumer front, there was a 2% increase in the number of Homesteads recorded during the 3rd quarter. A total of 3,648 Homesteads were recorded compared to 3,572 year over year. O’Donnell stated, “A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’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 also showed continued improvement during the 3rd quarter. The total number of foreclosure deeds recorded was 38, a 40% drop-off year over year. The percentage decrease was more modest when it came to Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process. There were 116 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages recorded during the quarter, a 5.6% decrease compared to the 3rd quarter of 2018.
O’Donnell noted, “My office continues to closely monitor the number of foreclosure filings in Norfolk County. The Registry of Deeds has partnered with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 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, “Mortgage activity should continue unabated during the 4th quarter assuming interest rates remain at low levels. Real estate sales volume will not rise until we see improvement in the number of available homes and condominiums for sale. The current real estate market is good news for sellers, but remains a challenge for first time homebuyers and those trying to buy a home in their price range.”
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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.