Register O’Donnell Discusses 2015 Norfolk County Real Estate Activity

Despite significant challenges resulting from last year's brutal winter, Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell reported the Norfolk County real estate market showed mostly positive and sunny results for 2015.


Register O'Donnell noted, "When it came to the Norfolk County real estate market in 2015, the sun was shining brightly over most indicators. Last year, we saw healthy increases in the number of commercial and residential properties sold. A total of 17,819 properties were purchased in 2015 compared to 16,718 in 2014, resulting in a solid 7% growth rate."


There were also some warm smiles when it came to the total dollar volume of commercial and residential real estate sold in 2015 which was $8.1 billion, a 10% jump from last year. Additionally, the average sale price of commercial and residential sales in Norfolk County was $719,679, a 2% increase from 2014.


Also, another telltale sign regarding the improved real estate performance in Norfolk County was the 157,817 land documents recorded during 2015, a 12% increase from the previous year. "These numbers clearly indicate that despite a rough beginning, the Norfolk County real estate market weathered the storm and rebounded nicely, particularly in the summer and fall months," noted Register O'Donnell.


There were a few mixed results, however, in 2015. Despite a significant 21% increase in the number of mortgages recorded, the overall amount of mortgage financing actually fell 9%, closing at $18.4 billion. This decrease is partly explained by a large mortgage that was recorded on commercial retail properties in Dedham, Canton and Medfield during the 3rd quarter of 2014.


Last year, property owners were also active on the consumer front, signing up for protections accorded to them under the Homestead Act. A total of 12,077 Homesteads were recorded in 2015, an 8% increase from the previous year. O'Donnell stated, "A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge homeowners who have not recorded a Homestead against their primary residence to consider this valuable consumer protection tool."


In a continuing sign that some of our neighbors have not benefited from the robust economy in eastern Massachusetts, 2015 saw 250 foreclosure deed recordings, a 22% increase from 2014. Furthermore, the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings – the first step in the foreclosure process – rose by 36%. "The increases in foreclosure activity," stated Register O'Donnell, "can be explained in part by lending institutions working to resolve foreclosure issues that in many cases date back to the height of the economic slowdown in 2008."


The Registry has partnered with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and NeighborWorks 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.


Register O'Donnell concluded, "Despite a stormy start, 2015 turned out to be a solid year for Norfolk County real estate. For the most part, I believe the positive trends seen in 2015 can continue into the new year. Clearly, Norfolk County remains a destination location for individuals and families to live and work.


"However, the lingering concerns I have are that real estate inventory will remain low, potentially chocking off increased activity and also that any upticks in interest rates could put a chill on mortgage financing. Additionally, we need to watch for potential disruptions in the housing market as real estate professionals continue to get used to new federal disclousure rules for mortgages introduced this past October."


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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 (781)461-6101, or on the web.

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.