Continuing a pattern seen throughout the latter half of 2019, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported that lending activity, spurred by continued low interest rates, showed a healthy increase for the month of November in Norfolk County.
Register O’Donnell stated, “As we have seen over the past few months, there was a significant increase with lending activity. A total of 2,893 mortgages were recorded in November, a 50% increase compared to November 2018. Also, the total amount of money borrowed against Norfolk County properties in November was $1.8 billion, a 53% increase compared to the previous year. These lending statistics are compelling evidence that positive trend lines relative to lending continue unabated in Norfolk County. Consumers are definitely taking advantage of low interest rates to refinance existing mortgages and finance major capital expenditures.”
During the month of November, the number of county real estate transactions was flat compared to the previous year. A total of 1,473 properties, both residential and commercial, were sold compared to 1,477 in November 2018. The average real estate price, combined for both residential and commercial properties, rose 8% to just over $1 million dollars. However, total dollar real estate sales for the month actually decreased 5% to $867.5 million. O’Donnell noted, “Despite the high real estate costs and challenges with available inventory, consumers still view Norfolk County as a desirable location to live and raise a family.”
Homeowners living in Norfolk County continued to avail themselves of the benefits of the Homestead Act. During November, 1,035 Homesteads were recorded, a 1% increase year over year. “A Homestead,” noted the Register, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. If they have not done so already, Norfolk County homeowners would be prudent to consider this important consumer protection tool.”
In some conflicting real estate data, November saw a 24% decrease in the number of foreclosure deeds recorded. A total of 13 foreclosure deeds were recorded compared to 17 during the same timeframe in 2018. However, this encouraging news was offset by a 23% increase in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, recorded during the month.
In response to these figures, the Register stated, “After seeing a reduction in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings during the previous month, the increase we saw in November was a bit troubling. At the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, my staff and I are working with our partners to help anyone facing the challenges of paying their mortgage. The Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376 and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950 have highly qualified staffs who can help any homeowner who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage document. Additionally, another option available to a homeowner is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “While the Norfolk County real estate sales activity has seemingly leveled off, the same cannot be said about the lending market. It remains hot. As long as interest rates remain low, I see healthy lending numbers continuing. One caveat is the uncertainty surrounding where the local, state and national economies are heading as we enter the 2020 calendar year. The Registry will continue to closely monitor economic data to see how it will affect the real estate and lending markets in Norfolk County as we move forward to the next decade.”
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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.