Register O’Donnell Reports on Resilient Norfolk County Real Estate Market

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported a better than expected real estate sales figure and a continued strong showing in mortgage lending highlighted Norfolk County real estate market activity for the month of July 2020.    


Register O’Donnell noted, “During the month of July, real estate sales transactions, both residential and commercial, increased 1% year over year. A total of 1,780 real estate sales transactions were recorded during the month compared to 1,761 sales recorded in July 2019. Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate transaction figure was welcome news. It reinforces what I have said in the past. Norfolk County is a destination location to live and work in Massachusetts. In addition to the surprising sales figure, the average sales price, both residential and commercial, increased 16% to $836,964. Also, total real estate sales figure, again both residential and commercial, increased 11% to $988 million.”


Norfolk County continued to experience a robust mortgage lending market during the month of July. The Register noted, “A total of 4,165 mortgages were recorded against Norfolk County properties during the month, an impressive 41% increase year over year. This can be explained by individuals, families and businesses taking advantage of historically low interest rates to both buy property and refinance existing mortgages. While the number of mortgage recordings increased significantly, the actual total mortgage borrowing figure decreased 33% to $1.4 billion. This can be explained by two mortgages of $436.4 million and $384 million being recorded against properties in Quincy and Franklin respectively during the month of July 2019.”  


During July, only 2 foreclosure deeds were recorded against Norfolk County property. However, due to the continuing statewide moratorium placed on initiation of foreclosures and evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, no Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, were recorded.   


Register O’Donnell stated, “While most foreclosure activity has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to partner with two non-profit organizations that counsel and assist those struggling with foreclosure. Both the Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender or is struggling to make mortgage payments. Another choice available for those struggling with foreclosure is the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs are staffed by knowledgeable professionals. I would urge anyone who is facing a foreclosure issue to contact one of these excellent programs.”


The month of July saw a total of 1,291 Homesteads recorded, a 1% decrease from July 2019. “The Homestead law,” noted O’Donnell, “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 homeowners to consider this important consumer protection tool.” 


In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate numbers recorded in Norfolk County during July 2020 were quite impressive. The key to maintaining a strong real estate economy will be whether or not interest rates remain at historically low levels. All indications from the Federal Reserve and policy makers in Washington are interest rates remaining at their current levels over the next few quarters.”


“I am also proud to note another factor keeping the Norfolk County real estate market viable during the pandemic has been the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds remaining open for business. While the Registry of Deeds building has remained closed to the general public, Registry staff has been able to continue the important work of recording land documents. This has allowed impacted homeowners to buy and sell property and lending institutions to provide needed funds to homeowners and businesses alike. Recording fees and deeds excise monies collected have been used by state, county and local governments to help fund many critical programs including education, public safety and health care.”


“I want to again urge our institutional users to continue utilizing electronic recording. Please note we also continue to receive land documents for recording from both regular mail and Federal Express. Additionally, a drop-off box in front of our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA continues to be available for those individuals who want to bring their land documents to the Registry for recording.”


“Finally, I want to reiterate my appreciation to all Norfolk County residents and Registry users for the patience and understanding they have shown while this pandemic has been ongoing. While we are cognizant of breaking developments regarding the pandemic, we are confident we can continue our important work during the pandemic and are hopeful for a brighter future. Be healthy. Be safe.”


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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street, 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.