Register O’Donnell Sees Reduced Real Estate Activity During 1st Quarter

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted that the first quarter of 2019 (Jan-March) was marked by reduced real estate sales and lending activity for Norfolk County in comparison to the same period in 2018.


Register O’Donnell noted, “This year’s 1st quarter saw real estate sales in Norfolk County, both residential and commercial, fall 4% year over year. There were 3,374 properties sold compared to 3,525 during the 1st quarter 2018. I believe these sluggish numbers can be directly attributed to the lack of available real estate inventory on today’s market. Also, typically the winter months are not the busiest months when it comes to real estate.”


The average sales price, again both residential and commercial, during the 1st quarter was $734,773, a 23% decrease from the 1st quarter of 2018. Additionally, the total volume of residential and commercial sales for the quarter was $1.3 billion, a 26% decrease year over year. These numbers were directly impacted by the 1st quarter 2018 sales of two commercial properties in Quincy totaling $80 million and $43 million respectively and also the $76 million sale of the former Reebok headquarters in Canton.


Furthermore, Norfolk County saw a reduction in the number of mortgages recorded during the quarter. A total of 4,532 mortgages were recorded during the 1st quarter 2019 compared to 5,155 during the same time period in 2018. “With a projected national growth rate this year of around 2.1%, one wonders what impact it will have on sluggish real estate sales and lending activity,” noted O’Donnell.


On the consumer front, the number of Homestead filings was flat. A total of 2,209 Homesteads were recorded during the 1st quarter, representing no statistical change from the same time period in 2018. O’Donnell reminded homeowners, “The Homestead law 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 homeowners to consider this important consumer protection tool.”


“If there was a bright spot for the first quarter it was the declining foreclosure activity numbers,” noted Register O’Donnell. “The number of foreclosure deeds recorded was 36, a 47% decrease from the 1st quarter 2018. Also, there was a 44% reduction in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process.”


The Register also noted, “While the foreclosure figures for the quarter were encouraging, my office continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. These organizations have staff available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another 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 to avail themselves of one of these excellent programs.”


Register O’Donnell concluded, “The Norfolk County real estate market continues to be adversely affected by a lack of available inventory. I am particularly concerned this continuing trend will make it extremely difficult for prospective first-time home buyers to enter the market. On the plus side, I was elated with the dramatic decline in the foreclosure numbers.”


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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.