Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported mixed Norfolk County real estate results for January, 2018. The Register noted that while the total real estate sales volume and average sales price showed increases, mortgage lending activity continues to decline in what has become a challenging market.
During the month of January 2018, a total of 1,228 residential and commercial real estate sales were recorded countywide, resulting in a 6% reduction from the previous January numbers. However, the total dollar volume of these residential and commercial real estate sales increased by 41% to $750 million year over year. The average sale price, again including both residential and commercial, also increased 59% coming in at $1,077,669. “These numbers,” noted O’Donnell, “were impacted by two Quincy commercial real estate sales, one for $80 million and the other for $43 million.”
Continuing a trend from the past several months, lending activity experienced a decline. A total of 1,853 mortgages were recorded in January, a 19% reduction from the previous year. Register O’Donnell stated, “There is no question Norfolk County consumers continue to be very cautious when contemplating borrowing money to pay for big ticket items such as home improvements and higher education costs.” In addition, total mortgage lending in January decreased by 20% to $1.4 billion from the January of 2017.
Norfolk County foreclosure activity was a mixed bag. The good news was a 40% reduction in the number of foreclosure deeds recorded; 18 were recorded in January compared to 30 in January, 2017. The discouraging news was a total of 67 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, were filed during the month compared to only 41 year over year. This represented a disturbing 63% increase.
Register O’Donnell noted, “While the economic climate in eastern Massachusetts remains strong, there are some property homeowners who are facing economic challenges, many through no fault of their own. As Register, I am very proud of the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds partnership with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. They are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs is staffed by committed and knowledgeable professionals. I urge anyone who is facing a foreclosure issue to avail themselves of these excellent programs.”
On the consumer front, the number of Homestead recordings also fell in January. A total of 791 Homesteads were recorded compared to 902 in January 2017. “A Homestead,” stated O’Donnell, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge homeowners who have not recorded a Homestead against their primary residence to consider this valuable consumer protection tool.”
In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “There is no question we are continuing to see a slowdown in the Norfolk County real estate market. A lack of available real estate inventory continues to have a negative impact on the market. This lack of inventory, and consumers continued caution when contemplating borrowing money, is also causing a corresponding slowdown in the lending market. Until we see an uptick in available real estate inventory, these trends are more than likely to continue.”
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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.