Dedham - Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that February’s numbers relative to Norfolk County real estate activity show a fairly sharp drop as compared to February 2021 and January’s numbers.
“Our data indicates that the Norfolk County real estate market in February was sluggish when compared not only to February 2021 but also to January”, noted Register O’Donnell. There were 10,291 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in February, a 34% decrease over last year’s February document volume and an 11% decrease from January.
“The number of deeds for February 2022, which reflect real estate sales and transfers both commercial and residential, decreased by 19% from February 2021 and by 32% from January. Sale prices increased significantly compared to last year but now appear to be leveling off. February’s average sales price was $1,218,942, an impressive 42% increase compared to February 2021 but down 15% from January. Total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales also showed gains from one year ago, increasing 14% but are down 42% from January,” noted the Register. “It remains to be seen if this trend continues into March.”
Overall lending activity showed a decrease again for the month of February. A total of 1,940 mortgages were recorded during the month, a 56% decrease compared to a year ago and a decrease of 17% from January. “It appears that many consumers have already refinanced given the past low interest rate environment,” noted O’Donnell.
A continuing cause for concern in Norfolk County, however, is the increase in foreclosures. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely watching the foreclosure market. During February, there were 8 foreclosure deeds recorded as a result of mortgage foreclosures taking place in Norfolk County. In addition, there were 27 Notices to Foreclose, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded in February, up from 18 recorded in January. In February 2021 there was only 1 Foreclosure Deed and 6 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages filed. “The sharp increase in these numbers remind us that even more of our neighbors are now facing 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 month at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. There was a 17% decrease in homestead recordings in February 2022 compared to February 2021 and a decrease of 20% from January. “These figures are not too surprising where the sales of homes has decreased, but all homeowners, not just new purchasers, should keep in mind that a recorded Declaration of Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000,” noted O’Donnell. “We want 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. The recording fee is only $36. Feel free to visit the Registry website at www.norfolkdeeds.org to get more information on homesteads and to make sure you have taken advantage of this protection.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “February real estate activity showed a decline in Norfolk County which is not unusual for this time of year however, there has been a drop in numbers in 2022 over 2021. We still see available real estate inventory as continuing to be a source of concern in Norfolk County but it does appear that the market is not as hot as last year. Whether this translates into more and better opportunities for buyers, particularly first time buyers, remains to be seen.”
The Registry of Deeds continues to be open to the public for business. 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.