Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported Norfolk County experienced strong real estate sales and lending activity during the month of September 2020.
Register O’Donnell stated, “The month of September saw Norfolk County real estate sales, both residential and commercial, increase 13% year over year. 1,697 real estate sales were recorded compared to 1,503 in September 2019. The average real estate sales price, again both residential and commercial, increased 10% to $865,235. Total sales volume for the month came in at $952 million. The main drivers of these numbers were low interest rates, a limited amount of available real estate causing prices to increase, in many cases over the original listing price, and homebuyers looking for increased housing space to accommodate working remotely.”
As has been the case for the past several months, Norfolk County once again saw strong growth in mortgage lending during September. 4,639 mortgages were recorded during the month, a 64% increase compared to the previous year. The total amount of money borrowed during September was $1.8 billion. “These strong mortgage numbers,” noted O’Donnell, “are the direct result of low interest rates. All indications are these attractive mortgage rates will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, have been curtailed due to a moratorium placed on foreclosures and evictions while the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency has been ongoing. The Registry of Deeds is watching closely to see if this moratorium will be lifted as scheduled by Governor Baker in mid-October.
“The Norfolk Registry of Deeds,” stated O’Donnell, “has been working in close cooperation with Attorney General Maura Healey’s office monitoring protections afforded to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 state of emergency through Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020, Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency as well as protections put in place by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub L. 116-136, (the “CARES Act”). We are very sensitive to how this pandemic has caused upheaval in people’s lives and in some cases caused issues with homeowners paying their monthly mortgage payment.”
“I am pleased to report that during my tenure as Norfolk County Register of Deeds, my office has been proactive in partnering with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 to help those facing challenges paying their mortgage. These non-profit agencies are equipped to provide help and guidance to anyone struggling to pay their mortgage. In addition, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD), 617-727-8400 is also available to provide assistance.”
Homestead recordings increased 15% during the month of September. “I want to remind Norfolk County residents that 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 all Norfolk County homeowners to avail themselves of this important consumer protection tool,” noted the Register.
Concluding his remarks, Register O’Donnell stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to experience significant changes in their lives. This is reflected in what we are seeing for recordings at the Registry of Deeds and what we are hearing from real estate professionals working with buyers and sellers in Norfolk County. Many working men and women are now working remotely. This has caused some to leave urban areas and buy in suburbs and rural communities like we have in Norfolk County. We are hearing that many young professionals are looking for more space in their homes needed for home offices due to work being done remotely. A limited supply of available housing stock has resulted in a heightened amount of competition between buyers resulting in higher real estate sales prices in Norfolk County. We are also hearing from real estate brokers that many houses are selling for above the original listing price. Robust sales and lending figures were seen in September. There is evidence that the Fall will see continuing strong performance in real estate activity.”
“What we have also seen over these past few weeks and months is that COVID-19 does not discriminate. Anyone, even the most powerful man in the free world, can be affected. Until there is a viable vaccine in place, all of us need to continue practicing social distancing, wear a mask, and take all necessary steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We need to keep in mind not only our own health but the health of our family, neighbors and friends. Together, we will get through this. Be healthy. Be safe.”
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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.