Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported an across-the-board decline in real estate activity for Norfolk County in January 2019. Declines were seen in both real estate sales and in mortgage lending.
“During the month of January, a total of 1,141 residential and commercial real estate sales were recorded countywide, resulting in a 7% drop from the previous January numbers. Additionally, the total dollar volume of these residential and commercial sales decreased by 42% to $433.7 million year over year, as well as declined in the average sale price by 39% to $662,165. The reductions in total sales numbers and average sales price were skewed by two Quincy commercial sales, one for $80 million and the other for $43 million that took place in January 2018,” noted the Register.
Lending activity continued to experience declines in January. A total of 1,463 mortgages were filed in January, a 21% reduction from the previous year, along with a 54% decline to $653.9 million for total mortgage recordings. Register O’Donnell stated, “Norfolk County homeowners continue to be very cautious when contemplating whether or not to borrow money. Factors include decreased mortgage activity caused by lack of available real estate inventory, concern about the direction of mortgage rates and the uncertainty about the state of affairs in Washington D.C.”
One notable bright spot was the sizeable reduction in Norfolk County foreclosure activity. Foreclosure deed recordings fell 33% for January. The news was even better for Notice to Foreclose Mortgages filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, which declined by a whopping 43%. Register O’Donnell noted, “The foreclosure stats were very encouraging for January. Of course, this is small consolation to those homeowners who are having difficulty paying their mortgage due to economic hardship.”
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950. They are available to help anyone who has received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400. Each of these programs is staffed by knowledgeable professionals. Anyone who has received a foreclosure notice should consider availing themselves of these excellent programs.
On the consumer protection front, the number of Homestead recordings fell 4% in January from 757 compared to 791 year over year. “A Homestead,” stated O’Donnell, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge homeowners who have not recorded a Homestead to consider this valuable consumer protection tool.”
In conclusion, Register O’Donnell stated, “Without question January was a disappointing month for real estate activity in Norfolk County. Traditionally, winter months like January do not exhibit great real estate numbers. However, lack of available inventory continues to be a serious issue. This shortage of housing stock is especially impacting first-time home buyers. While the Federal Reserve has indicated a willingness to reduce the number of interest rate increases, consumers are still being cautious when it comes to borrowing money. Hopefully, we will see improvements in the real estate climate going forward.”
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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.