Register O’Donnell Reports Low Inventory Drives May Real Estate Activity

Mirroring trends seen across the United States, Norfolk County experienced reduced real estate sales for the month of May. Additionally, the reduced number of available housing stock inventory caused buyers to bid up real estate prices for both residential and commercial properties.

Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell noted, “During the month of May, Norfolk County real estate sales totaled 1,631 compared to 1,706 in May 2017. These reduced real estate sales figures tell us there is a spirited competition for a limited number of properties. The result is an increase in both average sale price and total sales volume. It’s good news for property sellers, but bad news for those trying to buy, especially for first-time homeowners.”

The average sales price for May, combining both residential and commercial sales, was $837,777, a 9% increase compared to the previous year. Total dollar real estate sales volume increased by 6% for the month, coming in at $902 million. “If we continue to see low real estate inventory levels, there is no reason to believe that higher price increases will not continue,” noted O’Donnell.

Regarding lending activity, a total of 2,348 mortgages were recorded during May, a 3% decrease from the previous year. However, total mortgage financing for the month was $1.7 billion, a whopping 55% increase year over year. This figure was impacted by a $325 million commercial mortgage taken out against a Holbrook property.

Register O’Donnell noted another new trend that can be an obstacle for potential homeowners. “We have seen a recent uptick in mortgage rates. It will be interesting to see the impact that it has on the overall lending market, especially if mortgage rates rise above 5%.”

During May, Norfolk County homeowners continued to take advantage of the Homestead Act. A total of 1,106 Homesteads were filed during the month, a 4% decrease compared to the previous May. “The Homestead Act,” stated the Register, “provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”

Foreclosure activity for the month of May was a mixed bag. The good news was the number of foreclosure deeds recorded in Norfolk County was 16, a 27% decrease year over year. However, the total number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process was 67, an increase of 11%.

The Register once again noted the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs, 617-479-8181 x376, and NeighborWorks Southern Mass, 508-587-0950 to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage document. A third option is to contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD) at 617-727-8400.

Register O’Donnell concluded, “We are once again seeing the impact that low inventory has on the overall real estate market. Without an influx of available housing stock, these trends will likely continue.”

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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street, 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 at Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101, or email us at

Register William P. O’Donnell
Norfolk County Registry of Deeds

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