Register O’Donnell Reports Mixed Results for 1st Quarter 2017 Real Estate Activity

For the 1st quarter of 2017, Norfolk County real estate activity had a little something for everyone: some good, some bad and some surprises.


Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “The good news was a modest 4% increase in combined residential and commercial real estate sales compared to the same quarter from the previous year. The sobering news garnered from the same period of time was that the total dollar volume and average real estate sales price indicators both decreased by 8% and 13% respectively. These numbers, coupled with the total real estate sales transaction numbers for the quarter, were a bit surprising when factoring in low inventory data.”


Overall, the number of land documents recorded (such as deeds, liens, bankruptcies, mortgage discharges, homesteads etc.)  at the Registry during the 1st quarter was 34,816, a 1% increase from the previous year. Register O’Donnell noted, “The Registry continues to record land documents in a timely and efficient manner. Presently, the Registry is the depository of approximately 6,000,000 land recorded documents, dating all the way back to 1793.”


The lending market saw a decline during the 1st quarter of 2017. A total of 6,005 mortgages were recorded at the Registry during the quarter, an 8% decrease from the same time period in 2016. Total mortgage borrowing was $3.8 billion for the first quarter compared to $4 billion during 1st quarter 2016. “These numbers,” noted O’Donnell, “Were expected due to the recent hikes in interest rates.”


Norfolk County homeowners continued to avail themselves of the benefits of the Homestead Act. A total of 2,521 Homesteads were recorded during the 1st quarter, an 8% increase year over year. “The Homestead law provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge Norfolk County residents to consider this consumer protection tool,” noted O’Donnell.


Another piece of good news for the quarter was the decline in foreclosure activity, a trend seen in Norfolk County over the past few months. For the 1st quarter 2017, the total number of foreclosure deeds recorded was 69, a 9% decrease from the previous year. In addition, the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process, was 144, a striking 32.7% decrease from 2016.


Register O’Donnell stated, “While one foreclosure filing is one too many, I am heartened that we are continuing to see reductions in foreclosure activity in Norfolk County. The trend lines look positive and I remain guardedly optimistic that the worst of the foreclosure crisis is behind us.”


The Registry continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks SouthernMass, 508-587-0950 to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage document. A third option is to contact the Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at 617-573-3333.


Register O’Donnell concluded, “While the numbers were a bit contradictory, I am confident that Norfolk County real estate remains a very strong commodity. The Registry will continue to monitor the housing inventory levels very closely”


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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  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 protected].




The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is closed Today, July 4th in celebration of Independence Day. We are open Friday, July 5th.