O’Donnell Promotes Protection Against Real Estate Fraud, Reports a Solid May
Jun 30, 2016 05:23PM ● Published by Pamela Johnson
Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell
“The F.B.I. has reported that property and mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the United States. Multiple jurisdictions across the country have reported individuals recording fraudulent documents and making it appear like they own another person’s home or property. While we have been fortunate that this problem has not revealed itself here in Norfolk County, I want to make sure my office is proactively and vigorously protecting consumers,” noted Register O’Donnell.
Any owner of real property in the twenty-eight communities comprising Norfolk County can sign-up for the Consumer Notification Service free of charge by doing the following: Go to the Registry’s website, www.norfolkdeeds.org, and click on the Consumer Notification Service Get Consumer Alerts button to complete the initial registration. From there, follow the remaining sign-up instructions.
Once you have signed up for the service, each subscriber will be able to input two names, individual or business, and the corresponding city or town in Norfolk County for monitoring. They can monitor their real estate for such activities as changes in deeds, mortgages, non-mortgage liens, Homesteads or other land documents that might be recorded against the property.
If a document is recorded against one of the names inputted for monitoring, the subscriber will be alerted via email, usually within 24 hours. The person can check the Registry’s on-line land research records at www.norfolkresearch.org as an option. If a subscriber believes a fraudulent land record has been recorded against their property, they should then immediately contact the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101. The subscriber would also be given a list of public safety referrals by the Registry.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “As your Norfolk County Register of Deeds, I take very seriously the Registry’s responsibility to provide secure, accurate and accessible land records for all Norfolk County communities. I also want to be proactive in ensuring that there is no fraudulent activity related to land document recordings. By offering the Consumer Notification Service, we are able to provide a level of protection to the program’s subscribers against unscrupulous individuals who would attempt to commit real estate fraud. We are delighted already to have more than 400 residents sign-up for the free service.”
Register O’Donnell Reports Solid Real Estate Results for May
Spring roared in like a lion when it came to May real estate sales in Norfolk County, according to Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell.
The Register noted, “For the month of May, a total of 1,554 property transactions, both residential and commercial, were recorded in Norfolk County. This activity represented a 7% increase from the previous May. In addition, the total dollar volume of residential and commercial real estate transactions was $682 million, an impressive 13% increase year over year. These are encouraging numbers and point to continued momentum in the real estate market.”
Results were however mixed for lending activity. “May 2016 saw 2,814 mortgages recorded against Norfolk County property, representing a 5% increase over the previous May. However, the total dollar amount borrowed during May 2016 was actually a decrease of 5% from May 2015. While these numbers may appear contradictory, I would remind readers that this figure can be significantly impacted by just a small number of commercial loans,” stated O’Donnell.
Last month’s statistics clearly indicate that Norfolk County homeowners continue to take advantage of the Homestead Act, an important consumer tool. For the month of May, a total of 1,114 Homesteads were recorded, a 12% increase from last May. A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.
Foreclosure activity continued to be a cause of some concern during May 2016. The total number of Notices to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process came in at 84 compared to 63 in May 2015. Foreclosure deed recordings, the final step in the foreclosure process, were flat. A total of 22 foreclosure deeds were processed in May compared to 25 in May of 2015.
O’Donnell noted, “There is no question that some of this foreclosure activity stems from the economic downturn that took place between 2008 and 2009. There is also no question that some of our neighbors are facing economic hardship today. The Registry is proud 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 consumers is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333.”
Register O’Donnell concluded, “May was a solid month for real estate activity in Norfolk County. The strong eastern Massachusetts economy is clearly the driving force behind these results. While the Federal Reserve is again talking about raising interest rates in June or July, I am confident that both the real estate and lending markets will withstand this potential increase. My primary concern is that real estate inventory levels do not slip. Overall, given May’s current data, I am cautiously optimistic that the real estate market will continue on a favorable trend in Norfolk County through the summer months.”
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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 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 www.norfolkdeeds.org.