Register O’Donnell Reports on January 2016 Real Estate Activity

Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell reported a mostly positive kick-off to the New Year relative to Norfolk County real estate activity for month of January, but a few numbers still need to be closely watched throughout the first quarter of 2016.

"I am pleased to report that January 2016 real estate sales activity showed solid gains in both the total number of real estate transactions and total dollar volume of real estate activity, including commercial and residential sales, compared to the same month in 2015," noted Register O'Donnell.

'The number of real estate sales, both commercial and residential, increased a whopping 28% in January. The average sales price during the month was $680,350, a 4% increase compared to January 2015. Total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales also showed solid gains, increasing an impressive 34% to $514.3 million," noted the Register.

Continuing his remarks, O'Donnell stated, "The lending market was a mixed bag for the month of January. The total number of mortgages recorded in January was 1,982, a modest 5% increase. However, total mortgage financing actually fell 7% coming in at $764 million. We will need to watch this number closely to see if individuals and business begin to think twice before borrowing money."

On the consumer front, Homestead recordings in January increased by 23% year over year. Information regarding the Homestead Act, which provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000, can be found on the Registry's website at

Foreclosure activity in Norfolk County continued to be a cause for concern as it does throughout the state. Register O'Donnell stated, "The good news in January was that the number of foreclosure deeds fell by 25% year over year. However, when it comes to foreclosures, we are by no means out of the woods. What is troubling is the big increase in the amount of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process. In January, 97 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings were recorded as compared to 59 in January 2015. This is a clear indication that despite the good economy in eastern Massachusetts, some of our neighbors continue to face economic hardship.

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

Register O'Donnell concluded, "The data clearly shows that the Norfolk County market is on solid footing. As the next 12 to 18 months progresses, it will also be interesting to see how much the General Electric headquarters move to Boston will impact the local housing market. However, a story that may have just the opposite effect is the recent decline in the stock market. Individuals who are seeing significant losses in their portfolios may pause before considering a real estate purchase or home improvement. Another factor not to be discounted is the real estate inventory, which if remains low, can have a negative impact on real estate sales, particularly for first-time home buyers."

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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.