Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell stated that real estate sales remained sluggish in Norfolk County, but that the industry saw a slight increase in the volume of mortgage lending activity.
“During April 2019, a total of 1,378 real estate sales were recorded, an identical number to what was recorded in April of 2018. The average sales price, both residential and commercial, did decrease 9% year over year coming in at $802,656. In addition, total dollar sales volume for the month was $665 million, a 9% decrease from the previous year. Hopefully, in the upcoming spring and summer months, we will see a turnaround in these numbers.”
One bright spot for April was in mortgage lending activity. A total of 2,022 mortgages were recorded in April in Norfolk County, a modest 2% increase compared to April 2018. Total mortgage borrowing came in at just over $1 billion. “These figures,” noted the Register “may have been stimulated by increased consumer confidence and the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to defer interest rate increases during the past few months.”
An area of great improvement seen during April was the reduced amount of foreclosure activity. Register O’Donnell stated, “During April there was a 29% decrease in the number of foreclosures recorded. Even more significantly was the 35 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded during the month, resulting in a whopping 57% decrease year over year. I am very pleased the foreclosure numbers are continuing to trend in this direction.”
The Register did note that for anyone experiencing financial trouble with their mortgage, there is help readily available. “The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376 and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. These non-profit agencies are equipped to help those who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage document. Another option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400.”
On the consumer front, Norfolk County homeowners continued to take advantage of the protections offered through the Homestead Act. A total of 933 Homestead documents were recorded in April, a modest 4% increase from the previous year. “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,” noted O’Donnell.
In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “I was not discouraged by the number of real estate sales recorded in Norfolk County during the month of April. With the economy in eastern Massachusetts continuing to perform well, my hope is that we will see additional inventory hit the market, resulting in increased sales and lending activity. If this occurs, it would certainly help first-time home buyers who are having trouble securing properties due to limited inventory.”
“Finally, I was also very encouraged by the foreclosure numbers. While one foreclosure is one too many, I am starting to believe that the worst is behind us.”
To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at facebook.com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on twitter.com/NorfolkDeeds and/or Instagram.com/NorfolkDeeds.
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.