Running counter to recent reports of robust real estate activity in Massachusetts and in Greater Boston in particular, Norfolk County showed reduced levels of real estate sales and mortgage financing for the month of July.
Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “Last month the total number of deeds recorded, both residential and commercial, decreased 13% across Norfolk County from the previous July. The average sales price for these properties was $668,688, an 11% reduction.” In addition the total volume of real estate sales, again both residential and commercial, fell 24% year over year.
The Register went on to say “at first glance, the numbers are surprising, especially when considering the warm weather for the month and the continuing low interest rates. We are hearing from real estate professionals that the reduced volume is a result of low inventory and buyers being concerned about overpaying on properties.”
Lending figures also came in well below last year’s numbers. “During July, a total of 2,798 mortgages were recorded, a 5% reduction from July 2015. Total mortgage financing took a hit of 13% from the same time period,” noted O’Donnell.
One shining spot for July was the reduced level of foreclosure activity. A total of 17 foreclosure deeds were filed last month compared to 22 in July 2015. Also, the total number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, closed at 43, a nice reduction from the 65 recordings for the same time period of last year. “While one foreclosure recording is one too many, I am encouraged by the reduced numbers. I am hoping that this is the start of a positive trend,” stated the Register.
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.
In regards to an important consumer protection tool available to property owners, Homestead recordings also experienced a 10% dip for the month of July. The importance of filing a Homestead, O’Donnell noted, “is to provide limited protection against the forced sale of your primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “July’s sluggishness was not what we were expecting. Clearly the evidence seems to indicate low real estate inventory has dampened the market. Potential buyers are concerned that they may be overpaying for property. On the other hand, sellers appear to be reluctant to put their property up for sale afraid that they will not be able to find something for themselves once their home is sold. Hopefully, an increase in real estate inventory can eliminate these concerns.”
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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 source 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 www.norfolkdeeds.org.