Norfolk Registry of Deeds – October Report

Straight from the Norfolk Registry of Deeds, here’s the report on October 2016 real estate activity in Norfolk County…

“Mixed signals were the theme for Norfolk County real estate activity in the month of October 2016.

Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported, “The data collected shows seemingly contradictory figures when it comes to both real estate sales and lending activity. While sales showed a slight year-over-year decrease of 4%, the average sale price of residential and commercial property during October was $756,035 a 27% increase. Additionally, total sales volume, again for both residential and commercial property, was $688 million; it marked a 14% increase compared to October 2015.”

Mortgage activity also showed some mixed signals. O’Donnell stated, “The number of mortgages recorded during the month of October was 3,120, a 23% increase compared to the previous year. However, total mortgage financing for the month was $2 billion, compared to $3.4 billion the previous year. The drop-off is largely attributable to a $811 million property financed in Quincy and Braintree in October 2015.”

The same mixed signals were also seen in foreclosure activity. The bad news was the increase in the number of foreclosure deeds recorded. A total of 34 foreclosure deeds were recorded in October compared to 14 recorded during the same time in 2015. The good news was a reduction in the number of Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings, the first step in the foreclosure process. Seventy-seven Notice to Foreclose Mortgages were filed in October compared to 101 filed in October 2015.

“While I am guardedly optimistic the worst of the foreclosure activity is behind us,” noted O’Donnell, “these numbers do tell us that some of our neighbors continue to face economic hardship. My office is committed to partnering with Quincy Community Action Programs at (508) 598-0950 to ensure homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage from a lender are getting the help they need. Another option is to call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s HomeCorps program at (617) 573-5333.”

The number of Homesteads recorded, an important consumer tool available to homeowners, was essentially flat. A total of 1,010 Homesteads were filed last month, compared to 1,016 during the previous October. O’Donnell noted, “A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.”

Register O’Donnell concluded, “The real estate sales activity experienced in Norfolk County during the month of October clearly shows a tremendous amount of competition for a limited number of properties available. Keys for a healthy real estate market going forward will be the level of available inventory and whether there will be a potential rate increase by the Federal Reserve. My office will be monitoring these issues very closely.”

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at or follow us on and/or

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 at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at

Register William P. O’Donnell

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds


New Smoke Detector Rules

We recently turned our clocks back and earned an extra hour of sleep (my favorite holiday!), and many of us probably followed the advice to change your smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks. But if your home was built prior to 1975, you may want to consider upgrading your smoke detectors entirely, and here’s why.


Install an alarm like this and have peace of mind for 10 years!


On December 1, 2016, a new Massachusetts regulation will take effect, requiring that when homes built before 1975 are sold, they are to be equipped with smoke detectors with a 10-year lifespan. But even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, it’s a good idea to install these detectors if your home falls within this range. The key words to look for when you go to the hardware store are “10 year sealed lithium battery,” like this one available at Daddario Hardware and other stores. And yes, “10 year sealed” means you can install it and forget it – no more batteries to replace, and no more low battery chirps in the middle of the night! (Why is it always in the middle of the night?)

Homes built after 1975 are required by state law to have detectors with a hard-wired power supply and a battery backup, but even if your home falls into this category, make sure your batteries are fresh and your detectors themselves are 10 years old or less. Our State Fire Marshal, Peter J. Ostroskey, said during Fire Prevention Week this October that “what we’ve seen in the past eight to 10 months across the state is that our fatal fires involve homes that have smoke alarms in them, but they are inoperative.” In other words, even if you have properly-installed and positioned smoke detectors, they’re not going to do you any good if they’re too old or missing batteries. So stay safe, and make sure your detectors are in good working order!

For more helpful info, check out the consumer guide published by the State Department of Fire Services.