As the first quarter of 2022 comes to a close, Plymouth County is seeing significant reductions in mortgages and significant increases in foreclosure activity.
“We are seeing fewer mortgages because interest rates are going up, and most folks who wanted to refinance their mortgages have already done so,” said Register John R. Buckley Jr. “The end of the foreclosure moratorium allows the lenders to proceed with long dormant foreclosures, and this likely accounts for the increase in recordings.”
The total sales volume for the first quarter of 2022 showed 1,941 transactions compared to 2,081 transactions in 2021, a 7 percent difference. “The good news is the drop in sales was not significant, and in fact, March, 2022, had the most sales (735) of the year,” noted Buckley. “Hopefully the sales activity will continue to climb as the weather improves.”
There has been a notable increase (11 percent) in the cost of homes over the past year. The average sales price for the first quarter of 2022 is $551,896 compared to $495,305 in the first quarter of 2021.
The decline in refinance activity will likely continue as rates go up, Buckley said. Plymouth County recorded 5,825 mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the 10,725 mortgages recorded in the first quarter of 2021. As significant a drop (150 percent) as this represents, it is worthy to note that the number of mortgages recorded during the first quarter of 2020, was 6,028. Like deed recordings, the 2,158 mortgages recorded this March represented the highest number of recordings thus far this year.
“I think that the decrease in recordings in the first quarter of 2022, is more a confirmation of just how hot the real estate market was in 2021, rather than a comment on the activity in either 2020 or 2022,” Buckley said.
There was a very modest increase of 3 percent in the average dollar amount of the mortgages recorded in Plymouth County compared to the same period last year. The year to date average is $347,440 compared to $337,970 in 2021.
The number of sales taking place by way of foreclosure increased. In the first quarter of 2022, Plymouth County recorded 22 foreclosure deeds, up by 22 percent from the 18 foreclosure deeds recorded in the first quarter of 2021. Notices initiating new foreclosures saw a much more dramatic increase over the course of the first quarter compared to last year. This year, the number of notices increased by 160 percent. In the first quarter of 2022, there were 104 notices recorded, compared to 40 notices recorded during the first quarter of 2021. Perhaps more telling is that the 39 notices to foreclose recorded this March represents the highest number of monthly notices since pre-pandemic times, two years ago.