All posts by mwebber

COVID-19 and the Norfolk County Real Estate Market

Since March 10th when Governor Baker declared a state of emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have experienced some sort of personal or economic upheaval. We do live in extraordinary times. Despite all this upheaval and uncertainty, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell today reports one area of our economy has remained viable, the Norfolk County real estate market.

Register O’Donnell stated, “The COVID-19 state of emergency ordered by Governor Baker recently passed the six-month timeframe. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I am proud to report the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds has remained open for the recording of land documents. While the Registry of Deeds building remains closed to the general public, Registry personnel have been able to continue recording land documents. At the beginning of the pandemic, we utilized social distancing, split work shifts, remote access, and use of our disaster recovery site to record documents. With the lifting of some restrictions by Governor Baker, continued practice of social distancing and taking all other necessary steps to ensure the safety of our employees, more of our personnel are now working out of our main building in Dedham. Throughout the pandemic, we have also utilized electronic recording for our institutional users such as banks, law firms and title companies. In addition to electronic recording, users have also had the option to submit documents via regular mail, Federal Express or placing documents in our drop-off box located just outside our main entrance at 649 High Street, Dedham, MA.”

Since March 10 th when the state of emergency was declared through September 10 th , the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds recorded 87,379 land documents, a 14% increase compared to the same timeframe in 2019. Most of this increase can be attributed to a spike in mortgage recordings. Specifically, 23,607 mortgages were recorded, a significant 57% increase. The total mortgage indebtedness dollar amount of these mortgages was $10 billion. From March 10 the through September 10 th , 8,910 properties, residential and commercial, were sold in the county, a 9% decrease year over year. However, the average sales price actually increased 4% to $833,279. Total sales volume, again both residential and commercial, for the six-month period was $4.7 billion.

“These sales figures,” noted the Register, “are actually encouraging considering the economic upheaval in general and specifically the high unemployment rate seen in Massachusetts during the pandemic. Many real estate observers are reporting buyers, particularly millennials, leaving the city for the suburbs. Low-interest rates are also a factor in many considering buying single-family homes. Additionally, many are now working remotely from home and as a result can live farther away from their place of business. A factor in the increased average sales price has been the reduced amount of available housing inventory resulting in this being a seller’s market with prospective buyers competing for limited housing stock. Real estate brokers and agents have reported in some cases this intense competition has actually driven real estate sales prices over the original asking price.”

“The increase seen in mortgage recordings has been a direct result of historically low interest rates. Many of these mortgages are refinancing existing mortgages to reduce term, lessen monthly payments or pay for a home improvement or higher education expense,” stated the Register.

During the March 10 th through September 10 th period, the number of foreclosure deeds recorded fell 30%. Notice to Foreclose Mortgages, the first step in the foreclosure process, have been curtailed due to a moratorium placed on foreclosures and evictions while the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency has been ongoing. The Norfolk Registry of Deeds has been working with Attorney General Maura Healey’s office in monitoring protections afforded to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 state of emergency through Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020, Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency as well as protections put in place by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub L. 116-136, (the “CARES Act”).

“One area that needs special attention once the COVID-19 state of emergency has been lifted,” noted Register O’Donnell, “is foreclosure activity not only in Norfolk County but throughout Massachusetts. As a result of the economic upheaval seen during the pandemic, many of our neighbors have lost their jobs impacting their ability to pay their monthly mortgage payments.”

“As Register of Deeds, I have been proud to partner with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, 508-587-0950. These non-profit agencies can help anyone facing challenges with the paying of their mortgage. In addition, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD), 617-727-8400 can also help. All of these programs are staffed by knowledgeable professionals who provide assistance to those struggling to pay their mortgages.”

Homestead recordings fell 9% during the March 10 th through September 10 th timeframe. “A Homestead,” noted O’Donnell, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. I urge all Norfolk County homeowners to avail themselves of this important consumer protection tool.” Concluding his remarks, Register O’Donnell stated, “The last six months have been difficult for individuals, families, employers and employees alike. Despite all the hardship, I am proud of my office’s efforts to keep the Norfolk Coåunty Registry of Deeds open for business. The results of these efforts have been a viable Norfolk County real estate market benefitting sellers and buyers of real estate, lending institutions, the real estate legal community and all others with a vested interest in the local real estate economy. By keeping the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds open, recording fees collected have been forwarded to the state and county helping to pay for important public initiatives including education, health care, and police and fire expenses. We are so thankful to our partners in the real estate community and most importantly the citizens of Norfolk County. Their patience with us has been critical to the Registry of Deeds being able to continue its core mission of recording land documents in a safe and secure environment.”

“Unfortunately, we are not done with this pandemic. Please continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and take all necessary steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Together, we will get through this. Be healthy. Be safe.”

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at facebook.com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on twitter.com/NorfolkDeeds and
Instagram.com/NorfolkDeeds.

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 registerodonnell@norfolkdeeds.org.

Sturdy Memorial Advises Community To Beware Of Unauthorized Calls

Sturdy Memorial Hospital Logo

Several community members have contacted Sturdy Memorial Hospital regarding marketing calls they have received at home or on their cell phones where their caller ID identifies Sturdy as the caller. These calls do not originate at Sturdy or any of its affiliates. The practice is called “spoofing” in which outside companies are able to have another entity displayed on the caller ID to entice the public to answer the call.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the Truth in Caller ID Act, FCC rules prohibit any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongly obtain anything of value. Unfortunately, if no harm is intended or caused, the practice is not considered illegal.

The public is urged to not give out any personal information to unknown callers or purchase any product that they may be selling.  Phone calls from your doctor’s office do occur on occasion but if you are unsure if a call is legitimate the safest practice is to hang up and call the number you have for your physician’s office directly.

Sturdy Memorial Hospital and its Associated Medical Practices has never and will never sell, trade or lend patient personal information to any outside company for any reason. 

Sturdy Memorial Hospital is a full-service, independent, financially stable, not-for-profit acute care community hospital in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Patriot Place Scavenger Hunt

Patriot Place announced today the launch of the Scouting About at Patriot Place Scavenger Hunt.

Participants will celebrate the start of the football season by visiting Patriot Place stores and restaurant windows to find each venue’s corresponding Patriots jersey number. Participants will then build their team by correctly matching each business to a player through the Player Sightings log at www.patriot-place.com/scavenger-hunt/.

The first 100 participants (one per household) to complete the scavenger hunt will win a $10 Patriot Place gift card. Additionally, one randomly selected participant will win the grand prize of a pair of ticket for a 2021 Patriots home game, and a $100 Patriot Place gift card. In order to enter to win, participants must submit their completed log by 6 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2020.

Gillette Stadium To Host Jurassic Quest

Drive-thru Exhibit Sept. 4 Through Sept. 13

Interactive drive-thru exhibit features over 70 animatronic dinosaurs

Tickets available now for safe and socially-distanced experience

Gillette Stadium announced today that it will host the Jurassic Quest drive-thru exhibit for the first time from Sept. 4 through Sept. 13, 2020.

Jurassic Quest is the first event of its kind hosted at the home of the six-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and New England Revolution. The innovative experience allows guests to travel back in time as they drive through an interactive exhibit featuring over 70 moving and roaring dinosaurs, including favorites like the 50-foot Megalodon and 80-foot Spinosaurus.

Paired with an online audio tour, Jurassic Quest is an educational and exciting experience for the whole family enjoyed from the safety of a vehicle. Guests will take a quest throughout the exhibit, encountering some of the largest dinosaurs to ever roam the earth and some of the eeriest marine creatures to ever inhabit the ocean’s depths.

Gillette Stadium will host Jurassic Quest from Sept. 4 through Sept. 13, 2020 from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. Guests can purchase drive-thru tickets for an assigned time slot for just $49 per vehicle, and $80 for passenger vehicles that seat 9-15 people. Motorcycles and similar vehicles are not permitted at Jurassic Quest. Guests can also bring a piece of Jurassic Quest home with them with dinosaur toy add-on bundles and merchandise available online for contact-free pickup. Tickets and add-ons are available now at JurassicQuest.com/events/drive-thru-boston.

Jurassic Quest and Gillette Stadium staff will be on-hand to ensure all proper social distancing guidelines are being followed. Please refer to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ website for COVID-19 travel restrictions and guidelines.

Patriot Place Hosting Cradles To Crayons “stuff-a-truck” Friday, July 24

Contactless children’s clothing, shoes and books donation to take place in Patriot Place parking lot 12 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, July 24

WHAT:        Patriot Place is teaming up with Cradles to Crayons to host “Stuff-a-Truck” in parking lot 12 across from Bed Bath & Beyond on Friday, July 24 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Members of the community will have the opportunity to safely donate children’s clothing, shoes and books in a contact-free and socially distanced setting by driving up to the branded truck and unloading their donations.

Employees from Cradles to Crayons and Patriot Place will be on site to assist with the donations, while following the CDC guidelines on social distancing.

WHEN:        Friday, July 24, 2020; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE:      Gillette Stadium; 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough, MA 02035

**The truck will be located in lot 12, across from Bed Bath & Beyond**