After a careful review of 1st quarter numbers, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reports that there is generally overall good news when it comes to Norfolk County real estate activity with a few exceptions.
“The 1st quarter of 2016 saw a robust market with total volume of commercial and residential real estate sales coming in at $1.48 billion, a solid 12% increase from the same time period in 2015. In addition, the number of real estate sales transactions increased a healthy 18% for the quarter.
“However, average sale price of commercial and residential real estate fell 9% to $721,660. It is too early to know whether a market correction is underway relative to real estate sales price or this figure represents a onetime aberration,” noted Register O’Donnell.
“Regarding the mortgage market,” stated O’Donnell, “the total number of mortgages recorded was 6,504, a 3% reduction from 1st quarter 2015. We will need to watch this number closely to see if a trend is occurring.”
The Register further stated, “with that said, total mortgage financing increased a whopping 39% to $4.0 billion. Some of this increase can be largely attributed to a commercial mortgage that was recorded in February.”
One area of concern was the continued increase in foreclosure activity. The Register noted “the number of foreclosure deeds recorded for Norfolk County was 76, an increase of 4% from the same quarter last year. More disconcerting was the increase in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process. A total of 214 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings took place during the 1st quarter compared to 136 during the same timeframe in 2015.
“I agree with the prevailing feeling that the increased foreclosure filings are attributable to lending institutions working through past delinquent mortgage loans, some going back to the 2008 economic downturn. While we sometimes get caught up in looking at these numbers as statistics, it should be noted that foreclosures have a very human face. “
To help those facing a foreclosure, the Registry continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 ext-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950 for those who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another option for homeowners is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333.
On the consumer front, the number of Homesteads recorded increased 15% year over year. “A Homestead 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 homeowner’s to consider this important consumer protection tool,” said Register O’Donnell.
In conclusion, O’Donnell stated, “I am encouraged by the 1st quarter results of real estate activity in Norfolk County. I believe the favorable weather we experienced compared to the past winter spurred activity. It’s pretty clear that Norfolk County remains an attractive location for individuals, families and businesses to live and work. As long as the eastern Massachusetts economy remains vibrant and real estate inventory does not take a significant dip, we should be able to maintain this market momentum. Overall, Norfolk County appears to be moving towards a robust spring real estate season.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org.