Register O’Donnell Reports on 2021 Real Estate Activity in Norfolk County

Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that overall 2021 real estate numbers relative to Norfolk County real estate activity trended in a positive direction compared to the 2020 numbers.

“The 2021 Norfolk County real estate market was up over 2020 in a number of respects.” noted Register O’Donnell, “there were 195,112 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, a 9% increase over 2021. While many sectors of our economy were negatively affected by the continuing pandemic, Norfolk County real estate activity increased and was vibrant. In fact, 2021 was one of the strongest years in a decade.”

“I am pleased to report the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continued to remain open and operational for the recording of land documents every work day throughout this continuing pandemic. I want to thank the Registry staff for their efforts and I am particularly proud of our employees who continued to work diligently and effectively throughout these difficult times.”

“The number of deeds which evidence real estate sales and transfers, both commercial and residential, increased by 29% in 2021. In addition, the average sale price in 2021 was $1,070,650, a respectable 19% increase compared to 2020. Total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales also showed solid gains, increasing 29% to well over $3 billion,” noted the Register.

Overall lending activity increased in 2021. A total of 46,430 mortgages were recorded during the year, a modest 2% increase compared to 2020. 

One positive metric for 2021 in Norfolk County relates to foreclosures.  A moratorium on foreclosures enacted on April 20, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic expired on October 17, 2020.  The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely watching the foreclosure market. Despite the expiration of the moratorium, in 2021 there were 52 foreclosure deeds recorded in Norfolk County, a decrease of 23% from 2020 when there were 87 foreclosure deeds recorded,.  In addition, there were 141 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded in Norfolk County in 2021, down from 183 Notices recorded in 2020. “We hope these numbers continue to trend downward in 2022 but we are reminded that some of our neighbors continue to face financial challenges”, said O’Donnell.  “We will continue to monitor these numbers.”

For the past several years, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has partnered with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 to help anyone facing challenges paying their mortgage. Another option for homeowners is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Register O’Donnell stated, “If you are having difficulty paying your monthly mortgage, please consider contacting one of these non-profit agencies for help and guidance.”

Homestead recordings by owners of homes and condominiums increased in 2021 at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds.   There was an 8% increase in homestead recordings in 2021 compared to 2020.  “A recorded Declaration Homestead,” noted O’Donnell, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.  It is great to see folks protecting the biggest asset most of us have, our homes.  I would urge anyone who has not availed themselves of this important consumer protection tool to consider doing so.  Please visit the Registry website at  to get more information on homestead protection.”

Register O’Donnell concluded, “Without question 2021 was generally positive for real estate activity in Norfolk County.  However, available real estate inventory continues to be a source of concern in Norfolk County. It’s especially a problem for first-time homebuyers attempting to crack the market. Also, things may be slowing down compared to past real estate indicators.  The Registry of Deeds was operational every work day during the pandemic.  The Registry of Deeds continues to be open to the public for business. The drop-off box located at the main entrance of the Registry Building will continue to be available for use by those members of the public who may not be comfortable entering the Registry of Deeds Building The volume of documents recorded electronically for many of our institutional users continues to increase.. We are also receiving documents in person, via regular mail, Federal Express, UPS and from our drop-off box located just outside our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA.” 

Attached is a link to a “Good Deeds” episode discussing the 2021 Norfolk County real estate statistics and other issues relating to the Registry of Deeds:

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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.