The 2019 real estate market in Norfolk County saws some ups and downs characterized by flat residential and commercial property sales, but on the bright side there was a large spike in the number of mortgage documents recorded due to low interest rates.
Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell stated, “During 2019, a total of 18,325 residential and commercial real estate sales transactions were recorded, resulting in a modest 1% increase compared to the previous year. However, the total real estate dollar sales, again both residential and commercial, actually fell 6% to $9.2 billion. The average real estate sales transaction price, combining both residential and commercial sales, was $807,730, a decrease of 4% from the previous year.”
The Register noted there was a total of 150,899 land documents recorded at the Registry during 2019, a 7% increase compared to the previous year. “Much of the land document recording increase in 2019,” noted O’Donnell, “was attributed to the 21% increase seen in the number of mortgages recorded, including mortgage refinances and home equity loans. Specifically, a total of 29,740 mortgages were recorded during the year versus 24,504 recorded in 2018. Total mortgage financing actually saw a slight 1% dip coming in at $17.6 billion for the year.”
Last year saw Norfolk County property owners continue to avail themselves of the protections provided by the Homestead Act. A total of 12,546 Homesteads were recorded, a 4% increase from 2018. O’Donnell again spoke about the importance of having Homestead protection. “A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. For more information about the Homestead, including information on what is and is not covered, please consult the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org.”
The 2019 calendar year also saw encouraging signs relative to foreclosure activity. A total of 146 foreclosure deeds were filed in Norfolk County last year compared to 221 in 2018, a significant 34% decrease. Additionally, Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, decreased by 24.3%. “While this is good news, we must always remember even one foreclosure is one too many,” stated Register O’Donnell.
Specifically, for those who are struggling paying their mortgage, the Registry continues to work in partnership with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376 and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions at 508-587-0950. These organizations can provide direction to 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, “Last year’s sluggish real estate market can be attributed in part to low residential real estate inventory. Until we see increases in available housing stock, property sales will likely remain stagnant. On the bright side, continuing low interest rates should keep the lending market an attractive option for consumers when it comes to paying for capital improvements and other big ticket items. However, we should keep a close eye on the Federal Reserve and interest rates, along with international events to see how these issues impact the economy.”
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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.