Register O’Donnell Reports on Feb 2016 Real Estate Activity

Improved weather from a year ago and a one-day leap year bonus helped propel the Norfolk County real estate market to solid gains in February 2016.

Register O'Donnell noted, "The month of February saw a 12% increase in the number of land documents recorded compared to the same time period in 2015. Most significantly, the total number of deeds recorded increased by 20% from 870 to 1,042 compared to the previous February. While the weather and leap year were significant factors, I would also argue that this data reflects the vibrancy of Norfolk County's real estate market."

In addition to the increased deed transactions, the total volume of commercial and residential sales also increased by a significant 55% coming in at $519 million. Also, the average sales price of Norfolk County commercial and residential property rose by 23% to $907,950. "These numbers clearly say it all, that Norfolk County remains a destination location to live and work," noted the Register.

The mortgage market was mixed for the month of February, showing a very slight dip in mortgages recorded, but a significant increase in overall mortgage financing. "The total number of mortgages recorded fell by 3% to 1,911 compared to the same time period in 2015. While this number is hard to assess given all the other positive data, the reduction may be the result of a slight uptick in mortgage rates and also the continuing impact that the new disclosure rules are having on the length of real estate closings.

"However, February 2016 also saw a 63% increase in total mortgage financing, coming in at $1.3 billion. This increase was partly attributable to a $479 million mortgage recorded against a property in Norwood," noted the Register.

In February, Homestead recordings increased by 19%. O'Donnell reiterated the importance of the Homestead Act. "A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. Details on the Homestead Act can be found on our website, I urge homeowners to consider this vital consumer protection."

February data wasn't all sunshine according to Register O'Donnell, "A total of 30 foreclosure deeds were recorded last month compared to 25 filings in the previous year, resulting in a 20% increase. This increase is partly attributable to lending institutions that are continuing to work through delinquent mortgages, dating back in some cases to the 2008 recession. More troubling was the continuing increases seen in Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process. A total of 55 Notice to Foreclose Mortgages were filed in February compared to 41 in February 2015. "These filings are a clear indication that while the eastern Massachusetts economy remains strong, many of our neighbors continue to face economic hardship," stated O'Donnell.

The Registry of Deeds continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs and Neighbor Works Southern Mass to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage. Another option for homeowners facing challenges meeting their monthly mortgage payments is to contact the Attorney General's HomeCorps program.

Register O'Donnell concluded, "While there were unique variables that impacted the February real estate market in Norfolk County, it is my contention that these figures provide unmistakable evidence that the economy remains strong and there is a decent pool of buyers and sellers in the housing market. With that said, one thing we need continue to do is to keep a close eye on real estate inventory. Any reduction could result in a slowdown. Overall, I am pleased the Norfolk County real estate market came through the long days of winter in good shape. I am cautiously looking forward to a strong spring season."

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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 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.