Register O’Donnell Sees Decline in Norfolk County Real Estate Activity

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported an across-the-board decline in real estate activity for Norfolk County in October 2021. Declines were seen in both real estate sales and in mortgage lending. 

“The Norfolk County real estate market” noted Register O’Donnell, “has started to slow down and decline.  There were 14,433 documents recorded at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds which is a 20% decrease over last year’s October document volume.” 

“During the month of October in 2021, a total of 1,590 residential and commercial real estate sales were recorded countywide, resulting in a 15% drop from the previous year’s October numbers. Additionally, the total dollar volume of these residential and commercial sales decreased by 22% to $973.1 million year over year, as well as declined in the average sale price by 1% to $1,009,538.” noted the Register.


Although there were less mortgages recorded the total amount of money borrowed for mortgages County wide was over 2.5 billon, a 13% increase compared to October 2020.  “While some of the mortgages are due to purchases and sales of real estate, other mortgages are due to refinancing existing mortgages.  Individuals have different motivations to refinance.  Some refinance to reduce their monthly payments, others to take some years off their debt while still others are using the money to pay for home improvements and other capital expenditures” said Register O’Donnell. 


One continuing cause for concern, however in Norfolk County, was foreclosures.   A moratorium on foreclosures in place during the pandemic in 2020 was lifted on October 17, 2020.  This moratorium was in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has been closely watching the foreclosure market.  O’Donnell stated, “During October of 2021 there were only 1 foreclosure deed recorded as a result of foreclosure processes taking place in Norfolk County.  However, there were 15 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded here in Norfolk County in October of 2021.  A foreclosure recording is very impactful on those being foreclosed on.  During October of 2020 there were 3 Foreclosure Deeds and 2 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages filed as opposed to this year’s 15 Notices to Foreclosure Mortgages.”  “These numbers remind us that some of our neighbors continue to face financial challenges”, said O’Donnell.  “We will continue to monitor these numbers.”


Additionally, 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 decreased this year at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds in October.    There was a 22% decrease in homestead recordings in October 2021 compared to October 2020.  “A 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 October was a disappointing month for real estate activity in Norfolk County.  Available real estate inventory continues to be a constant source of concern in Norfolk County. It’s especially been 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, however that is being evaluated as the COVID-19 developments unfold.  The drop-off box located at the main entrance of the Registry Building for the time being will continue to be available for use by those members of the public who may not be comfortable in entering the Registry of Deeds Building.  Land documents are being recorded electronically for many of our institutional users. We are also receiving documents in person, via regular mail, Federal Express and from those placed in our drop-off box located just outside our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA.”   


To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on and


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.