real estate

Massachusetts home sales fall, prices up

SALES OF HOMES in Massachusetts declined in May compared with the same month last year. For a larger version click here.
Posted 6/28/11

BOSTON – Sales of Massachusetts single-family homes declined in May but their prices rose compared with the same month last year.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors said home sales fell 17 percent while The Warren Group – a real estate tracking firm – said sales dropped 25 percent. The two organizations use different sources to track home sales.

The Realtors pegged the median home price in May at $300,375, an increase of a half a percent from a year earlier. The Warren Group reported a median price of $304,000, up 3 percent. The Warren Group said the increase reversed a five-month downward trend.

In Bristol County, Mass., sales dropped 48 percent in May compared with the same month last year while the median sales price rose 9 percent to $250,000, according to The Warren Group.

“The increase in prices is surprising to me and a hopeful sign,” Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. said. “Perhaps buyers are back in the game and competing for deals.”

This year has been tough on the Bay State real estate market. The Warren Group said 2,952 few homes sold during the first five months of this year compared with the same period last year. In Bristol County, Mass., sales are off by 421 homes.

The start of this year has not enjoyed the enticement of the federal homebuyer tax credit. Buyers had to sign a purchase-and-sales agreement by April 30, 2010 to qualify for the credit and many raced to beat the deadline. They had until Sept. 30, 2010 to close on the property.

“It’s been a tough start to the year as we’ve been comparing sales volume against the height of the homebuyer tax credit. However, lending standards have also become more stringent which is slowing the recovery in the real estate market,” Warren said. “I expect that in the second half of the year comparisons with 2010 will turn positive.”

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