The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
Now that the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds in Cambridge has been recording documents electronically for a couple of weeks, it’s an appropriate time to review some electronic recording statistics from Middlesex North were the system has been in use for several years. While processing electronically recorded documents has become a routine part of our operation here in Lowell, the percentage of documents being recorded by that means remains capped at about 12% of our total daily intake. My sense is that number is artificially low because many real estate practitioners have held off on adopting electronic recording until more registries of deeds allow that process. Now that Cambridge is open for business, perhaps our volume will rise.
For now, here are the stats for 2009 up to the end of July: In those seven months, we recorded 4889 documents electronically which accounted for 12% of our total of 41282 documents. The monthly volume of electronic recording rose steadily from a low of 344 in January to a high of 805 in July. On seventeen days, we recorded more than 50 documents electronically. The five highest volume days were April 13 (107 e-docs), Feb 24 (78 e-docs), Feb 23 (75 e-docs), July 21 (73 e-docs) and July 1 (68 e-docs). As for document types recorded electronically, 59% were discharges, 20% were mortgages, 3% were deeds and 18% were other types of documents.
And has been the case from the very beginning, electronic recording from the registry end has been a fast, efficient and trouble-free means of recording documents.
As we reach the half way point of this month, it’s time to look at the number and type of documents being recorded to help us spot any trends. Today, I’ve compiled stats from Lowell as one group and then stats for the other nine towns in the district as a second group. This differs from our previous practice in which we looked at Lowell in isolation but also looked at the entire district including Lowell. Because current trends in the towns differ significantly from those seen in the city, separating the two groups will provide a more accurate picture.
When recordings for the first two weeks of August 2009 are compared to the same two weeks from August 2008 for the nine towns, we find that the number of deeds recorded is up 13% and the number of mortgages recorded is up 27%. Foreclosure deeds declined by 38%. The picture in Lowell is different. While foreclosure deeds are down an impressive 63%, the number of deeds and mortgage recorded are also down (2% for deeds and 14% for mortgages).
The second major comparison we’ll make is for year-to-date recordings for the same groups. When the number of documents recorded from January 1 to August 14, 2009 is compared to the number of documents recorded from January 1 to August 14, 2008, we find that in the towns, the number of deeds recorded is down 4%, mortgages are up 34%, and foreclosure deeds are down 44%. In Lowell, deeds are down 12%, mortgages are down 4%, and foreclosure deeds are down 40%.
Besides the continuing trend of fewer foreclosures, the most important observation we can make is that homes in the towns seem to be holding their values pretty well. This conclusion is based on the significant increase in the number of suburban mortgages being recorded. In Lowell, on the other hand, the number of mortgages being recorded is down slightly, but it’s down nonetheless which suggests that any rebound in home prices has not yet reached the city of Lowell.
A comparison of the number of key document types recorded in June of 2009 with those recorded in June 2008 yield some interesting statistics:
For the entire Middlesex North District,
Deeds - down 3%, from 542 to 527
Mortgages – up 54%, from 1044 to 1602
Foreclosure Deeds – done 56%, from 54 to 24
Orders of Notice – down 15%, from 72 to 61
For the city of Lowell,
Deeds – down 15%, from 171 to 146
Mortgages – up 6%, from 281 to 299
Foreclosure Deeds – down 47%, from 36 to 19
Orders of Notice – down 13%, from 38 to 33
The two numbers that I find most encouraging are the surge in the number of mortgages being recorded – an indication that more and more homeowners are able to refinance – and the number of orders of notice being down slightly. In our May to May comparison, while the number of foreclosure deeds was down by a dramatic 70+%, the number of orders of had climbed by more than 30%, suggesting that a new wave of foreclosures might be on the way. The June to June decline in this document type indicates that the May increase was probably just an anomaly.
I just finished posting the sales and foreclosure reports for the month of May and for 2009 through the end of May. Both can be found on the Sales page of our website. The sales reports are an extract of data from our recording system and include the property address, the date, the sales price and the book and page number where the deed is located. The “foreclosure” report is really an “order of notice” report which contains the property address, the date and the book and page number where the order of notice is recorded. Each town has its own sales report but there is only one, consolidated foreclosure report for the entire district. For both sales and foreclosure reports, we create two versions at the end of each month. One contains only activity from that month; the other for the year-to-date. Consolidated annual sales reports from 2000 through 2008 are also available. Everything is in PDF format so it’s easy to view and print although you cannot easily re-use the data in a spreadsheet or database program.
By mid-afternoon last Friday I posted a snapshot of foreclosure-related recordings for the month of May and compared them to May of 2008. Since a few late-afternoon recording might have arrived after that post was written, and because it did not do a like comparison of deeds and mortgages recorded, I’ll do a recap of the month of May here:
For the entire district, the number of deeds recorded in May 2009 (434) declined 12% from the number recorded in May 2008 (495). The number of mortgages, however, rose by 40%, from 1102 in 2008 to 1539 in 2009. The number of foreclosure deeds recorded showed a steep and welcome decline of 71%, dropping from 75 in May 2008 to 22 in May 2009. The number of orders of notice - the first step in the foreclosure process - unfortunately rose by 25%, climbing from 49 to 61.
The statistics for Lowell trended similarly, except for mortgages which declined by 10% (dropping from 253 to 227). Deeds showed a similar decline, dropping 15% from 156 to 132. Foreclosure deeds dropped by 77% (from 48 down to 11) while orders of notice rose by 36%, climbing from 25 to 34.
The number of foreclosure deeds recorded in May 2009 was down drastically when compared to May 2008, but the number of orders of notice – the documents that signal the start of the foreclosure process – rose significantly during that same period. First the good news: During May 2008, a total of 75 foreclosure deeds were recorded for the entire Middlesex North District, while in May 2009, there were only 22, a decrease of 70%. For the city of Lowell there was an even bigger drop (77%) from 48 down to 11. But the number of orders of notice recorded have started to rise, signaling a new wave of foreclosures, perhaps. For the entire district in May 2008, there were 49 orders of notice recorded; during May 2009 that number rose to 11, an increase of 22%. In Lowell, the May 2008 total of 25 jumped to 33 this May, a rise of 32%. Unfortunately, the increase in the number of orders of notices recorded suggests that the real estate crisis is far from over. (Note: the May 2009 figures are as of noontime on May 29, the last business day of the month, so the final statistics could rise slightly).
Each month we compare the number of various documents recorded during that month with the same month during the prior year. Here’s what we found for April for the entire registry district:
In April 2009, there were 1374 mortgages recorded, a 14% increase from the 1206 recorded in April 2008.
In April 2009, there were 29 foreclosure deeds recorded, a 57% decline from the 67 recorded in April 2008.
In April 2009, there were 237 mortgages recorded, a 7% decline from the 254 recorded in April 2008
In April 2009, there were 20 foreclosure deeds recorded, a 46% decline from the 37 recorded in April 2008.
Each month we compare the number of major documents (deeds, mortgages and foreclosure deeds) recorded to the same month a year ago. By that measure, February 2009 wasn’t a bad month. For the entire district, the number of deeds recorded in February 2009 was down 3% compared to the number recorded in February 2008 but the number of mortgages was up 20% and the number of foreclosure deeds rose by 12%. When those same figures are split between Lowell and the nine towns in the district, a slighlty different picture is formed. In Lowell, the number of deeds recorded in February showed no change from 2008 to 2009. The number of mortgages recorded declined by 10% while foreclosure deeds increased 25%. In the towns, deeds were down 6% and foreclosure deeds were down 10%, but mortgages were up 19%. These statistics suggest that there was a refinancing “boomlet” in February in the towns but not in Lowell. The question now is whether this was an isolated upsurge or the start of something more sustainable.
During 2008, there were 71 deeds and 4 foreclosure deeds with consideration of more than $1 million recorded at the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds. Here’s how those sales were split among the ten towns in our district:
The foreclosure deeds were for properites in Lowell, Westford, Wilmington and Tyngsborough. Check back later this week when I provide details about the top five sales of 2008.
I’ve compared the number of major document types recorded for the entire district during January 2009 with the numbers recorded in January of 2008, 2007 and 2006. Here’s what I found:
Total Documents: In January 2009 we recorded 3948, an 8% drop from 2008, a 29% drop from 2007 and a 35% drop from 2006.
Deeds: In January 2009 we recorded 322, a 6% drop from 2008, a 31% drop from 2007 and a 44% drop from 2006.
Mortgages: In January 2009 we recorded 895, a 4% increase from 2008, a 35% drop from 2007 and a 41% drop from 2006.
Foreclosure Deeds: In January 2009 we recorded 49, a 26% increase from 2008, a 172% increase from 2007 and a 390% increase from 2006.
Orders of Notice: In January 2009 we recorded 26, a 62% decrease from 2008, a 54% decrease from 2007 and a 13% decrease from 2006.
Today’s Lowell Sun had two articles on foreclosures, both of which used data or information supplied by the registry. The first, reviewed which national lenders are buying the most foreclosed properties; the second reviewed the pace of foreclosures through 2008 and speculated about what might happen in 2009.
We just posted our December 2008 and our cummulative 2008 sales reports on this section of the lowelldeeds.com website. At the end of each month, we generate two sales reports for each of the ten towns in the Middlesex North District. One report is for the month just completed, the other is for the entire year to date including that month. If you’re interested in sales in the town of Billerica, for instance, just follow the above link, go to the “Billerica” line and select “Last Month” from the drop down menu and a PDF file containing the address, price, date and book and page number of each sale of property in Billerica during December 2008 will display. If you instead select “2008″ in the Billerica slot, the page that appears will list all sales for all of 2008 for the town of Billerica.
We also present a list of Orders of Notice (aka “foreclosure filings”) that have been recorded. Because there are far fewer of them than there are deeds, we lump all of the Orders of Notice into the same file and sort them by town. These are also presented for “last month” and year-to-date.
Here’s a comparison of the number of some of the major document types recorded in 2007 and 2008:
Total Documents: 2007 - 66393; 2008 - 56125; a decrease of 15%
Deeds: 2007 - 6542; 2008 - 5454; a decrease of 17%
Mortgages: 2007 - 15633; 2008 - 11209; a decrease of 28%
Foreclosure Deeds: 2007 - 434; 2008 - 601; an increase of 38%
Order of Notice: 2007 - 935; 2008 - 807; a decrease of 14%
With Thursday being Thanksgiving, we don’t expect much activity either tomorrow or Friday and with next Monday being December 1, our recording statistics for the month through today should give us a good idea of local real estate trends. Comparing the number of major documents recorded from November 1 through November 25 for both 2007 and 2008 for the entire district and for just the city of Lowell gives the following result:
For the entire district:
In 2007, there were 326 deeds recorded; in 2008 there were 351, an increase of 8%
In 2007, there were 742 mortgages recorded; in 2008 there were 489, a decrease of 34%
In 2007, there were 51 orders of notice recorded; in 2008 there were 38, a decrease of 25%
In 2007, there were 31 foreclosure deeds recorded; in 2008 there were 39, an increase of 26%
For the city of Lowell
In 2007, there were 84 deeds recorded; in 2008 there were 125, an increase of 49%
In 2007, there were 196 mortgages recorded, in 2008 there were 136, a decrease of 31%
In 2007, there were 26 orders of notice recorded; in 2008 there were 25, a decrease of 4%
In 2007, there were 21 foreclosure deeds recorded; in 2008 there were 27, an increase of 29%.
Just a reminder that at 7 pm tonight at the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell, I’ll be discussing the current foreclosure crisis and its impact on the region. I’ll also speak about the Registry of Deeds, its operations and its history. The event is open to the public and admission is free.
A comparison of recording statistics for October 2008 compared to October 2007 shows no sign of a rebound in housing. In fact, some of the numbers suggest the situation is deteriorating. The number of deeds recorded during this and last October were roughly the same. For the entire district, there was a 9% decline, sliding from 541 in 2007 to 493 in 2008; but in the city of Lowell the 2007 total of 167 fell by only 1 this year. Mortgages tell a different story. Both the district and the city of Lowell both showed a 25% decline in the number of mortgages recorded, undoubtedly reflecting the tightening of the credit market this year. The number of foreclosure deeds are up slightly. The district rose from 37 to 41, an increase of 11% from 2007 to 2008; the city of Lowell climbed only 9%, from 22 to 24. The number of orders of notice (the document marking the start of the foreclosure process) rose substantially, however. District-wide, the 48 of 2007 rose 48% to 71 in 2008. Lowell’s increase was a bit larger, growing 52% from 31 in 2007 to 47 in 2008.
Both the Globe and the Herald report that the number of homes being sold is up but the median price they’re being sold for is down to levels last seen in 2003.
I ran a report that finds the median price of all deeds recorded for the ten towns in this registry for each year since 2002. The analysis is based only on deeds where the sales price was greater than $75,000 and less than $1 million. The statistics for 2008 are based on January 1 to October 28. All others are for the complete year:
2002 - 5372 deeds - median price of $250,000
2003 - 5506 deeds - median price of $273,000
2004 - 6234 deeds - median price of $295,000
2005 - 6061 deeds - median price of $307,000
2006 - 4594 deeds - median price of $300,000
2007 - 4296 deeds - median price of $282,500
2008 - 2783 deeds - median price of $256,750 (as of Oct 28, 2008).
There seem to be a flurry of stories in the media about rising foreclosure rates. The Globe had one today. We’ve typically report our foreclosure stats at the end of each month, but with the current upsurge in attention, today I created a chart that shows the number of orders of notice (aka “foreclosure filings”) and foreclosure deeds recorded for the Middlesex North district on a monthly basis beginning in January 2006. The chart may be viewed here.
Here’s a comparison of the number of key documents recorded for the city of Lowell in September 2007 and September 2008:
The new Sales and Foreclosure report is available on our website. It ontains a town-by-town lists of property sales and foreclosures for September 2008 and the year-to-date.
www.boston.com just put up a Warren Group report that the number of foreclosure deeds recorded in Massachusetts for the first seven months of 2008 exceeds the total number of foreclosures recorded for all of 2007. I’ve made a similar comparison for the Middlesex North District (using statistics through the end of August) and found the following:
The number of foreclosure deeds recorded for the entire Middlesex North District for the period of Jan 1 through Aug 31 of 2008 (427) was 47% higher than the number recorded for the same period in 2007 (290). The individual towns in the district also saw significant increases. Except for Chelmsford (an 11% increase from 18 to 20) and Dracut (a 28% increase from 39 to 50), the other communities all had increases of 47% or more (because of the small number of transactions, Carlisle and Dunstable were not included in this analysis). Lowell had a 47% rise, from 177 to 261; Tyngsborough had a 50% increase, from 8 to 12; Dracut (24 to 40), Westford (6 to 10) and Wilmington (9 to 15) all saw increases of 67%.
If there’s any good news it’s that the number of foreclosures being recorded from month-to-month in 2008 seems to have peaked in May. Here are the monthly totals: Jan - 39; Feb - 36; Mar - 57; Apr - 67; May - 75; Jun - 54; Jul - 52; Aug - 47.
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