Register O’Donnell Sees Mixed Messages in Norfolk County Real Estate Data

After carefully reviewing 2nd Quarter 2016 Norfolk County real estate statistics, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted the theme for the quarter was “mixed messages” as a solid rise in the number of real estate sales transactions was offset by reductions in total real estate sales volume and average sale price.


Register O’Donnell elaborated, “During the 2nd quarter 2016, the number of real estate sales transactions, both residential and commercial, increased 3% totaling 4,901 in comparison to the same quarter in 2015. However, juxtaposed with this number was a 7% reduction in the total volume of residential and commercial sales, coming in at $2.2 billion for the quarter. Also, the average sale price, again, both residential and commercial, for the quarter was $689,371, a 13% decrease year over year.


“The above figures would seem to indicate a small but noticeable market correction. Certainly, the average price increases we had been seeing previously could not be sustained. The one silver lining here is that hopefully, first time buyers will have a better chance of achieving home ownership,” noted the Register.


Mortgage market activity for the quarter was flat. The number of mortgages recorded at the Registry for the 2nd quarter 2016 was 8,622, a small 1% increase. Total mortgage borrowing for the quarter was $5.2 billion, a 31% increase compared to 2nd quarter 2015.


“Mixed messages” was also the theme for foreclosure activity in Norfolk County during the 2nd quarter 2016. While the number of foreclosure deeds recorded during the quarter was 60, this represented a 13% decrease compared to same time period in 2015. Register O’Donnell stated, “While one foreclosure deed recording is one too many, I am encouraged by the reduction in filings compared to 2nd quarter 2015.”


More discouraging was the continued increase in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process. “During the just concluded quarter, a total of 216 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage were filed at the Registry compared to 149 year over year. While lending institutions are continuing to work through some of the backlog experienced during the 2008-2009 economic downturn, clearly we are also seeing new activity.


“The evidence is unmistakable that some of our neighbors here in Norfolk County are facing economic hardship, in many cases the result of job loss and in others, a catastrophic medical issue. The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950 to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another option for consumers is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333,” stated Register O'Donnell.


Homestead recordings for the quarter totaled 3,386, a modest 2% increase for the quarter. O’Donnell noted, “A Homestead recording provides for limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured  debt up to $500,000. I am encouraged that homeowners continue to avail themselves of this important consumer protection tool.”


Register O’Donnell concluded, “While the results were mixed, I continue to be upbeat about the Norfolk County real estate market. I am cognizant of Brexit and what political and economic instability in Europe could mean for the stock market and our local economy here in Massachusetts. With that said, I would also argue business activity in eastern Massachusetts continues to be a net positive as evidenced by the relocation of GE’s worldwide headquarters to Boston. This business activity can only bode well for the entire Massachusetts real estate economy including Norfolk County.”


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


The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (718) 461-6101, or on the web at



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.