A small but noticeable increase in Norfolk County residential and commercial real estate sales offset continuing challenges faced in the lending market during the month of August 2018.
Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “Mirroring trends seen throughout Greater Boston, a total of 1,931 residential and commercial sales transactions took place during the month of August, a 4% increase year over year. Total real estate sales volume, again both residential and commercial, came in at $920.8 million, a 6% increase compared to August 2017. There is no question the trend lines are encouraging when it comes to real estate sales in Norfolk County.”
While real estate sales were showing signs of improvement, the lending market was another story. “Once again,” noted Register O’Donnell, “Norfolk County mortgage recordings fell year over year. A total of 2,418 mortgages were recorded compared to 2,631 the previous August, an 8% decrease. In addition, the total mortgage indebtedness figure fell 17% to $985 million. These figures tell us that Norfolk County consumers are watching interest rates closely and thinking twice before deciding to mortgage their home to invest in big ticket items such as home improvements.”
One piece of very sobering news was the increase in foreclosure activity seen in Norfolk County during the month of August. A total of 29 foreclosure deeds were recorded during the month compared to 20 recorded in August 2017. In addition, 63 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, were recorded in August versus 32 recorded the previous August, a whopping 96% increase.
O’Donnell stated, “There is no way to sugarcoat this very discouraging news. Clearly, there are some who are not benefiting from the overall good economic climate seen in Norfolk County specifically and eastern Massachusetts as a whole. For those facing challenges paying their mortgage, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950. These agencies are equipped to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage. Another option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at (617) 727-8400.”
On the consumer protection front, Homestead recordings showed a modest 3% increase year over year. A total of 1,367 Homesteads were recorded in August compared to 1,326 in August 2017. “A Homestead,” stated O’Donnell, “is an important consumer protection tool that provides a homeowner with limited protection against the forced sale of their primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”
In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “Like other interested real estate observers, both statewide and here in Norfolk County, I am cautiously optimistic that we are starting to see a small but noticeable improvement in the overall real estate sales market. What will sustain this good news is improvement in available real estate inventory, admittedly an open question at this point. The lending market will continue to face challenges due to the uncertainty surrounding where we are headed with interest rates.”
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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.