Register O’Donnell Reports Positive Trends for 3rd Quarter 2015 Real Estate Activity

Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell is still reporting good news when it comes to real estate in Norfolk County, as 3rd Quarter sales remain robust, but there are some potential leveling off signs that could be just around the corner.


"The 3rd quarter saw a robust 11% increase in properties sold. A total of 5,369 deeds were recorded compared to 4,848 for the 3rd quarter 2014. This is further evidence that Norfolk County continues to be a destination location for individuals and families to live and work. In addition, the quarter saw a solid 14% growth rate compared to last year's period in total dollar volume of commercial and residential sales," noted Register O'Donnell.


One note of caution was the minimal 2% increase in the average sale price of commercial and residential property to $647,737. "We saw the average sale price of real estate in Norfolk Couinty begin to slow down in August and the overall quarterly figure reflects this trend. This minimal increase in average real estate price can be partly attributed to limited real estate inventory. However, the small sale price increase is good news for buyers' purchasing powers, especially first-time ones," said O'Donnell.


The mortgage market saw conflicting news. There was a solid 11% growth in the number of mortgages recorded for the quarter. However, total mortgage indebtedness (financing) for the same period fell by 15% to $3.4 billion. This decrease can be explained by a large mortgage that was recorded against commercial retail property in Dedham, Canton and Medfield during the 3rd quarter of last year.


Another note of caution was the number of foreclosure deeds recorded during the quarter which increased to 62 compared to 50 during the same quarter last year. Register O'Donnell stated, "Lending institutions continue to work through a backlog of foreclosures that resulted from the economic downturn that occurred in 2008. More disconcerting was the Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recording figure, the first stage in the foreclosure process, which rose to 238 compared to 139 during the 3rd quarter 2014. This figure is a clear indication that while our economy is strong, many of our neighbors still face significant economic hardship."


The Registry continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and Neighbor Works Southern Mass at (508) 598-0950 to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. Another option for homeowners is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General's HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333.


Homestead recordings increased 11% for the 3rd quarter compared to one year ago. Homestead recordings provide limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.


Register O'Donnell concluded, "The Norfolk County real estate story for the 3rd quarter 2015 was pretty much a positive one, but there are warning signs out there. The strong eastern Massachusetts economy continues to serve as an economic engine for real estate activity, especially in Norfolk County. However, while the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported gains in real estate inventory during the summer months, the levels remain below average. Additionally, a possible move by the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates before the end of the 2015 could have a major impact on borrowing. Finally, new consumer federal disclosure rules, scheduled to go into effect in early October, could lengthen the time for real estate closings, pushing some closings from the 4th quarter of 2015 into the first quarter of 2016."


To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on


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.