A small decrease in Norfolk County real estate sales transactions was more than offset by an impressive spike in mortgage lending activity during the recently concluded month of July 2019.
Register O’Donnell noted, “During July, a total of 1,761 residential and commercial properties were sold in Norfolk County, representing a modest 2% decrease year over year. Inventory issues, particularly the lack of starter homes, are continuing to stifle growth in the Norfolk County real estate market.”
Total real estate sales volume, both residential and commercial, for the month of July was $893 million, a 16% decrease year over year. This figure was impacted by two commercial real estate sales of $64 million and $96.5 million recorded in July 2018. In addition, the average sales price, again for both residential and commercial properties, was $718,518, a 14% decrease compared to the previous year. “Time will tell,” stated O’Donnell, “whether or not these figures portend a thaw in the Norfolk County real estate market.”
The encouraging news that came out of July’s numbers was seen in lending activity. The number of mortgages recorded during the month was 2,950, a significant 28% increase year over year. For the month, total mortgage borrowing jumped by 119% to $2.1 billion. The total borrowing figure was impacted by 2 large residential multi-family mortgages, one in Quincy totaling $426 million and the other recorded against a Franklin property totaling $384 million. O’Donnell noted, “A reduction in mortgage interest rates is having a positive effect on the Norfolk County lending market.”
Another bright spot was the continuing decline in foreclosure activity, a trend seen for the past few months. A total of 8 foreclosure deeds were processed during July compared to 20 recorded in July 2018, resulting in a 60% decline. In addition, 29 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process, were filed during the month versus 38 recorded in July of 2018, a decline of 24%.
“We severely underestimate the effect of foreclosures if we simply look at them as just a bunch of numbers. Foreclosure activity has a human face. Some of our neighbors struggle to pay their monthly mortgage and sometimes fall short through no fault of their own. Families face economic hardships as a result of a sudden job loss or a catastrophic medical event. This is why the Registry of Deeds directs homeowners to the Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions at (617) 770-2227 x-346 to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lending institution. Another option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at (617) 727-8400,” noted O’Donnell.
On the consumer front, Homestead recordings were slightly up during the month of July. A total of 1,300 Homesteads were recorded, a 3% increase compared to the previous year. “It is important to remember,” noted Register O’Donnell, “that a Homestead is an important tool that provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “Available real estate inventory continues to be a constant source of concern in Norfolk County. It’s especially been a problem for first-time homebuyers attempting to crack the market. However, there is a silver lining in the July real estate statistics and that is based on the optimistic lending numbers that we’ve seen. These figures are very encouraging and tell us reduced interest rates and a robust eastern Massachusetts economy are having a positive effect on the Norfolk County region.”
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.