The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
Recent media articles have reported a surge in foreclosures although our statistics haven’t really reflected this. We counted the number of foreclosure deeds (you can’t get any better evidence that a foreclosure’s occurred than that) from 1990 to 2005. The number of foreclosure deeds recorded for Lowell in 2005 was only 16 while in 2004, there were 32. That’s a 100% decrease the way I do math. Still, I’ve long had a sense that foreclosures were on the upswing, so we dug deeper into our records and compared the number of orders of notice (the document that signals the start of the foreclosure process) to the number of foreclosure deeds recorded. In 2005, there were 143 orders of notice for Lowell but only 16 foreclosure deeds. That means only 11% of properties where an order of notice was filed went on to foreclosure. Contrast that with our peak year of 1993 where 411 orders of notice led to 380 foreclosure deeds, a 92% ratio. To get a sense of the reason why so few orders of notice culminate in actual foreclosures these days, we tracked 15 Lowell properties that had orders of notice recorded between January and March 2005. Of the 15, three went on to foreclosure, three others were rendered moot when the property was sold to a third party, one had a second order of notice recorded and eight had no further activity. Does this mean that half of those whose property was in financial distress suddenly became current in their payments? That’s hard to believe, but it certainly suggests that lenders are hesitant to follow through on the actual foreclosure sale of these properties.
Today’s announcement by Freddie Mac marks the sixth straight week that fixed mortgage rates dropped. The average 30 year mortgage rate fell from 6.2% to 6.1%. This rate is the lowest consumers have seen since late October, 2005. Over the last six months, rates have dropped a quarter of a percent. The news is similar for fifteen year and jumbo mortgages as well. Those rates went down also. The average jumbo rate dropped to 6.3% and fifteen year rates to 5.7%. As of this writing these decreases have not had an affect on business at this registry. Interestingly enough, casual discussion with some local attorneys indicate that February will be a busier month than the past two.
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