Norfolk County: Solid Real Estate Performance Despite COVID-19Jan 29, 2021 04:37PM ● By Chuck Tashjian
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused personal and economic upheaval in the lives of one and all, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reports the Norfolk County real estate market remained viable and strong throughout the 2020 calendar year.
“By remaining open for the recording of land documents while the COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing,” noted Register O’Donnell, “the Norfolk County real estate market was able to remain viable in 2020. Coupled with low interest rates and motivated buyers and sellers, the 2020 Norfolk County real estate market produced solid results across the board, in particular strong lending numbers.”
During 2020, a total of 18,413 residential and commercial real estate sales transactions were recorded, no statistical change from 2019 but a solid result nonetheless. Total real estate dollar sales, again both residential and commercial, increased 12% to $10.3 billion. The average real estate sales transaction price, combining both residential and commercial sales, was $903,423, an increase of 12% from the previous year. The increases seen in housing prices, particularly residential housing, was a direct result of buyers competing for a limited number of available housing stock.
According to O’Donnell, there was a total of 179,260 land documents recorded at the Registry during 2020, a 19% increase compared to the previous year. A primary cause of the land document recording increase in 2020 was a 54% increase in the number of mortgages, including mortgage refinances and home equity loans, recorded countywide. Specifically, a total of 45,669 mortgages were recorded during the year versus 29,740 recorded in 2019. Total mortgage financing increased 18% year over year coming in at $20.7 billion. This huge increase in mortgage recordings can be attributed to historically low mortgage interest rates seen during 2020.
Calendar year 2020 saw Norfolk County property owners continue to avail themselves of the protections provided by the Homestead Act. A total of 12,487 Homesteads were recorded, no statistical change from 2019. Register O’Donnell reminded Norfolk County homeowners about the importance of having Homestead protection. A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.
During 2020, the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds closely monitored the foreclosure market. From April 20, 2020 through October 17, 2020 a moratorium on foreclosure and evictions was in place throughout Massachusetts.
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 at [email protected].