Register O’Donnell Sees Norfolk County Real Estate Market Mirroring National Trend

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted that Norfolk County 1st quarter (Jan-March 2018) is following the national real estate market trends when it comes to real estate market prices and sales.


Register O’Donnell noted, “During the 1st quarter of 2018, the number of real estate properties, both residential and commercial, fell 6% year over year. There were 3,525 properties sold compared to 3,753 during the 1st quarter 2017. While there were plenty of individuals and families looking to enter the housing market, the lack of available real estate inventory is without question causing a reduction in sales. On the other hand, there is no doubt that low inventory has caused real estate sales prices to rise. This is just a classic case of market demand.”


The average sales price, again both for residential and commercial real estate during the 1st quarter was $953,988, a 52% increase from the 1st quarter 2017. Also, the total volume of residential and commercial sales for the quarter was $1.8 billion, a 37% increase. It should be noted these numbers were also impacted by the sale of two commercial properties in Quincy totaling $80 million and $43 million and also the $76 million sale of the former Reebok headquarters in Canton.


Also mirroring what is being seen nationally, Norfolk County saw a reduction in the number of mortgages recorded during the 1st quarter. A total of 5,155 mortgages were recorded during the 1st quarter 2018 compared to 6,005 during the same time period in 2017. “A combination of reduced property sales and an uptick in interest rates is causing a reduction in lending activity,” stated O’Donnell.


While Norfolk County saw a reduction in lending activity, the overall amount of mortgage indebtedness recorded during the quarter actually increased a significant 94% to $7.4 billion. This figure was impacted by a $476 million mortgage taken out against a commercial property in Weymouth that was recorded in late January 2018.


The number of Homestead filings also fell 12% during the quarter. “The Homestead law,” stated O’Donnell, “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.”


Foreclosure activity was mixed during the quarter. The number of foreclosure deeds recorded was 68, a 1% reduction from the 1st quarter 2017. However, there were 168 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, a 16.6% increase year over year. A Notice to Foreclose Mortgage is the first step in the foreclosure process. “This is a statistics that bears careful watching,” noted O’Donnell.


The Register noted, “My office continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. They are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs is staffed by knowledgeable professionals. I urge anyone who is facing a foreclosure issue to avail themselves of these excellent programs.”


Register O’Donnell concluded, “While the eastern Massachusetts economy remains strong, the local real estate market will not see increased activity until there is more housing stock available for sale. There is no indication right now that we will be seeing such activity anytime soon. Another factor that could possibly impact the market is whether the Federal Reserve will follow through on its plans to increase interest rates this year.”


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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.