ON THE MOVE: Jamieson Cohn and Marianna Kessimian play with their 3-year-old son, Cyrus Cohn, and 4-year-old daughter, Harper Cohn, at their new Cranston home. Rhode Island has seen 12 consecutive months of increased home sales.
The last time the housing market showed this much life was the summer of 2010.
Rhode Island’s year-over-year home sales had just surged 11 percent in the second quarter, median prices were up 9 percent and frantic buyers had pushed the average length of time a listing stayed on the market to a scant 83 days.
Of course, most real estate agents knew buyers had been rushing to claim the expiring federal stimulus-plan tax credit, but few predicted back then that the market would soon begin a steady dive over the next 18 months that would more than wipe out any gains.
So this summer, after year-over-year, single-family sales rose 18 percent in the second quarter and June marked the 12th consecutive month of increased sales, many economists and real estate professionals are measuring their enthusiasm over what has all the appearances of a legitimate housing recovery.
“I feel we are making strong, positive movement and there is a sense of normalcy, but I do not think we are through all the problem issues,” said Karl Martone, a Realtor with The Martone Group RE/MAX Properties in Smithfield. “Inventory is starting to become balanced out and we are getting to a more-balanced amount of inventory. The proof is in the amount of transactions and units sold, which tells us consumer confidence is higher.”
The main concern in Rhode Island, Martone said: unemployment.
Others are even more encouraged by what they see.
“The truth is we have seen the bottom,” said Sally Lapides, president of Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence. “I was worried during the first three months of the year, but the next three were much better. We are not seeing people with money hoarding it – they are moving forward with housing. They may have changed their price point and are not spending as much as 2005 or 2007, but they are buying.”
If almost all agree that the worst of the housing slump is over, a bigger question is what kind of recovery this turns out to be.
Based on the last three months of sales, the high-end, second-home market and low-end, first-time and flipper markets are leading the rebound while sales in the middle range – between $300,000 and $800,000 – remain sluggish.