Bucking a stagnating real estate market, February in Norfolk County showed a few positive indicators marked by significant increases in sales volume and average sales prices for residential and commercial properties.
Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “While February saw a 0% percentage increase in the number of residential and commercial properties sold in Norfolk County compared to February of 2017, there was nevertheless a significant increase of 37% in the total volume of residential and commercial sales, totaling $463 million. Additionally, there was more good news with the average sales price, for both residential and commercial properties, rising by 46% to $866,610.”
However, countering these promising statistics were the number of land documents recorded at the Registry. During the month of February there were 9,455 land documents recorded, a 5% reduction from the previous year. A main reason for the decrease can be attributed to the lending market. Once again, Norfolk County saw a reduced number of mortgages recorded during February, a trend stubbornly seen for the past several months. There were a total of 1,589 mortgages recorded representing a 6% decrease from February 2017. However, the total amount of borrowing rose 598%, but the number was significantly skewered by a $2 billion mortgage taken out against the Calpine Fore River Energy Center in Quincy and Weymouth.
Norfolk County homeowners continued to avail themselves of the benefits of the Homestead Act. A total of 621 Homesteads were recorded in February, an 8% reduction year over year. “I urge Norfolk County residents to consider filing a homestead on their primary residence. The Homestead law provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000,” noted O’Donnell.
Foreclosure activity was relatively flat during the month of February. A total of 17 foreclosure deeds were filed compared to 16 the previous year. Also, the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process, was 47 compared to 49 filed in February 2017.
Register O’Donnell stated, “Foreclosure activity appeared to have stabilized during the month of February compared to the past few months when significant increases in Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings were seen. With that said, we need to make sure any homeowner facing a challenge with their monthly mortgage payments is getting the help and counseling they need.”
The Registry continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. They are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs is staffed by knowledgeable professionals. I urge anyone who is facing a foreclosure issue to avail themselves of these excellent programs.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “In many respects, Norfolk County real estate activity is mirroring what’s happening with real estate activity across the northeast United States. Home prices are rising, but total real estate sales numbers are stagnant due to a historically low amount of inventory. This issue is especially burdensome for first time potential homebuyers. We are also seeing mortgage interest rates rise which may be causing some prospective buyers to pause.”
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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.