2016 Norfolk County Real Estate Activity Highlighted
Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell
Register O’Donnell noted, “A review of 2016 showed a strong across-the-board performance when it came to Norfolk County real estate. During the year, the number of residential and commercial properties sold increased 4%.”
In addition, the total volume of residential and commercial sales in 2016 came in at $9.1 billion, an impressive 12% increase year over year. The average sales price, for both residential and commercial, was $775,031, an increase of 8% over 2015.
Another positive economic indicator was the 167,600 land documents recorded, a 6% increase from the prior year. “These numbers indicate that Norfolk County remains a desirable location to raise a family and secure gainful employment,” noted O’Donnell.
The year 2016 was also a robust one for real estate financing in Norfolk County. A total of 34,159 mortgages were recorded, representing an 11% increase from 2015. Total mortgage financing closed at $19.3 billion, a 5% increase from the previous year. Register O’Donnell stated, “Clearly, a strong economy in eastern Massachusetts, coupled with low interest rates, were the key factors.”
Norfolk County residents continued to avail themselves of the protections provided by the Homestead Act. A total of 12,573 Homesteads were recorded in 2016, a 4% increase over 2015. O’Donnell noted, “A Homestead 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 against their primary residence to consider this valuable consumer protection tool.”
One note of concern in an otherwise bright market was foreclosure activity. A total of 294 foreclosure deeds were filed in Norfolk County in 2016, compared to 250 in the previous year. In addition, Notice to Foreclose Mortgage, the first step in the foreclosure process, also increased by 3.7%. Register O’Donnell noted, “These numbers are quite sobering. While one foreclosure is one too many, there is a silver lining in the 4th quarter of 2016, the Registry saw significant reductions in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage filings. I am cautiously hopeful these trend lines will continue.”
The Registry continues to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs at (617) 479-8181 x-376 and NeighborWorks 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, “Norfolk County real estate market experienced solid growth in 2016. A strong economy in eastern Massachusetts, coupled with low interest rates, propelled consumers to spend on housing, even in light of the reduced inventory. In 2017, it will be interesting to see if this activity can be sustained, especially in light of the increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.”
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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.