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A mixed bag of results is the best way to describe real estate activity in Norfolk County for the month of April, according to Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell.
April’s real estate sales fell by 8% year over year. A total of 1,248 properties were sold in April compared to 1,358 in April 2016. However, total dollar volume of real estate sales, both residential and commercial came in at $774 million for the month, a whopping 56% increase from the same time period in 2016. “This increase was significantly impacted by a $199 million sale of the Windsor Gardens apartment complex in Norwood," noted O’Donnell.
Lending activity decreased during April, in line with expectations. O’Donnell noted, “Just 1,907 mortgages were recorded in April compared to 2,636 in April 2016, a significant decrease of 28%. In addition, the total amount of borrowing for April was $999 million, a 3% reduction from the same time period in 2016. Clearly, consumers are taking into account the recent rise in interest rates when making a decision to purchase a home. Also, the lack of inventory to sell has impacted the numbers.”
There were also mixed results when it came to April’s foreclosure activity. The bad news: the number of foreclosure deeds doubled last month to 32 compared to 16 during the same time period in 2016. Conversely, the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, was 48 in contrast to 68 filings in April 2016. This drop off in filings represented a 29% decrease from the previous year.
Register O’Donnell stated, “While I am concerned about the number of foreclosure deed recordings, I was heartened by the significant reduction in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings. It is my hope that the worst of the foreclosure crisis is behind us.”
The Registry 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 Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at 617-573-3333.
Norfolk County homeowners continued to take advantage of the consumer protections offered through the Homestead Act. A total of 855 Homesteads were recorded during April. “The Homestead law provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I strongly urge Norfolk County residents to consider this consumer protection tool,” noted O’Donnell.
In conclusion Register O’Donnell stated, “While the economy remains on a solid footing in eastern Massachusetts, the continued low housing inventory levels are having a negative effect on Norfolk County’s real estate market. Prospective homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers, are bidding on a limited number of properties. This results in higher sale prices. With regards to the lending market, I see a continued drop-off in lending activity, based on expected interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve through the 2017 calendar year.”
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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.