Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that December real estate numbers relative to Norfolk County real estate activity were down, but there were a few aspects of the real estate activity to be hopeful about.
“The Norfolk County real estate market” noted Register O’Donnell, “has continued to slow entering into the winter months. There were 14,794 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds a 24% decrease over last year’s December document volume but slightly more than last month.”
“The number of deeds which evidence real estate sales and transfers, both commercial and residential, decreased by 17% in December. However, the average sales price during the month was $1,501,882, an impressive 43% increase compared to December 2021. Total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales also showed solid gains, increasing 19% to over $1.5 billion,” noted the Register.
Despite the deeds figure holding its own, overall lending activity showed a decrease again for the month of December. A total of 2,972 mortgages were recorded during the month, a 40% decrease compared to December 2020. “It appears that many consumers have already refinanced given the past low interest rate environment,” noted O’Donnell.
One continuing cause for concern, however in Norfolk County, was foreclosures. A moratorium on foreclosures enacted on April 20, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic expired on October 17, 2020. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely watching the foreclosure market. During December 2021 there were 7 foreclosure deeds recorded as a result of foreclosure processes taking place in Norfolk County. In addition, there were 19 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded here in Norfolk County in December 2021. In December 2020 there were 3 Foreclosure Deeds and 16 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages filed. “These numbers remind us that some of our neighbors continue to face financial challenges”, said O’Donnell. “We will continue to monitor these numbers.”
For the past several years, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has partnered with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 to help anyone facing challenges paying their mortgage. Another option for homeowners is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Register O’Donnell stated, “If you are having difficulty paying your monthly mortgage, please consider contacting one of these non-profit agencies for help and guidance.”
Homestead recordings by owners of homes and condominiums decreased this year at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in October. There was a 15% decrease in homestead recordings in December 2021 compared to December 2020. “A recorded Declaration Homestead,” noted O’Donnell, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. It is great to see folks protecting the biggest asset most of us have, our homes. I would urge anyone who has not availed themselves of this important consumer protection tool to consider doing so. Please visit the Registry website at www.norfolkdeeds.org to get more information on homestead protection.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “Without question December was a mixed bag month for real estate activity in Norfolk County. Available real estate inventory continues to be a source of concern in Norfolk County. It’s especially a problem for first-time homebuyers attempting to crack the market. Also, things may be slowing down compared to past real estate indicators. The Registry of Deeds was operational every work day during the pandemic. The Registry of Deeds continues to be open to the public for business, however that is being evaluated as the COVID-19 developments unfold. The drop-off box located at the main entrance of the Registry Building will continue to be available for use by those members of the public who may not be comfortable entering the Registry of Deeds Building The volume of documents recorded electronically for many of our institutional users continues to increase.. We are also receiving documents in person, via regular mail, Federal Express, UPS and from our drop-off box located just outside our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA.”
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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 email@example.com.