Continuing a trend seen over the past several months, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported a significant increase in mortgage lending in Norfolk County during the month of June 2020.
Register O’Donnell noted, “The month of June saw 4,192 mortgages recorded, a 68% increase year over year. Additionally, total mortgage borrowing rose 20% to $1.5 billion. These strong numbers reflect homeowners and businesses alike taking advantage of low interest rates to not only buy property but refinance existing mortgages. With interest rates remaining at historically low levels, I do not see this level of mortgage activity dropping in the short term.”
In contrast to the impressive lending numbers seen in Norfolk County, real estate sales, both residential and commercial, fell 15% during the month. Also, the average real estate sales price fell 4% to $795,240. Additionally, total dollar real estate sales decreased 27% to $757 million. “The COVID-19 pandemic,” stated the Register, “continues to have a negative impact on the real estate sales numbers seen in Norfolk County. However, with the economy reopening and some of those economically impacted returning to work, I am hopeful we will see an uptick in real estate sales activity.”
The month of June saw 6 foreclosure deeds recorded against Norfolk County property. However, due to a statewide moratorium placed on initiation of foreclosures and evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 0 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded during the month.
Register O’Donnell stated, “While the majority of foreclosure activity has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds are proud to partner with two non-profit organizations that counsel and assist those struggling with foreclosure. The groups are Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950. These organizations are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender or is struggling to make mortgage payments. Another option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs are staffed by knowledgeable professionals. Anyone who is facing a foreclosure issue would be wise to avail themselves of these excellent programs.”
During June, a total of 1,048 Homesteads were recorded, a 20% decrease from June 2019. Reflecting the importance he places on homeowners having a Homestead recorded against their primary residence, O’Donnell noted, “The Homestead law 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 homeowners to consider this important consumer protection tool.”
In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “Having the Registry of Deeds remain open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the Norfolk County real estate market to stay viable. While our building has remained closed to the general public, Registry staff, by utilizing social distancing, working split shifts, and in some cases working remotely has been able to continue the important work of recording land documents. This has allowed impacted homeowners to buy and sell property and lending institutions to provide needed funds to homeowners and businesses alike. Recording fees and deeds excise monies collected have been used by state, county and local governments to help fund many critical programs including education and health care.
“We urge our institutional users to continue utilizing electronic recording. Please note we also continue to receive land documents for recording from both regular mail and Federal Express. Additionally, a drop-off box in front of our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA continues to be available for those individuals who want to bring their land documents to the Registry for recording.
“A review of land document recording data during the month of June tells us how critical low interest rates have been in the increase of mortgage recordings seen in Norfolk County. There is no indication interest rates will be rising anytime soon. If a successful reopening of the Massachusetts economy can be completed during the next few months, I believe there are some who will again consider entering the real estate market to buy or sell property.
“Please know I am proud of the work done by the Registry of Deeds employees. This work has allowed the Norfolk County real estate economy to remain open for business. I also know our work could not be done without the patience and cooperation of Norfolk County residents and our users while this pandemic has been ongoing. We are confident we can continue our important work during the pandemic and are hopeful for a brighter future. Be healthy. Be safe.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street, 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.