Modest rise posted for single-family homes in Mass.
The Massachusetts single-family housing market showed modest improvement in August, another hopeful sign that the market is moving toward stability, but prices fell a bit and the local condominium market continued to show signs of weakness, said the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks local real estate activity.
Single-family home sales totaled 4,480 in August, up 2 percent from 4,390 in August 2008, said the Warren Group, which also publishes Banker & Tradesman.
Meanwhile, the median selling price for a single-family home dropped to $302,625 in August from $322,500 during the same month last year. A positive sign: This is the third straight month that median home prices have exceeded $300,000, the Warren Group said.
The Warren Group's report added: "Sales of Bay State condominiums slipped 8.3 percent to 2,114 from 2,306 last August.... The median condo price dipped 6.8 percent to $275,000 from $295,000."
Commenting on local housing market numbers for August, Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement: “This is a modest increase in single-family home sales, but the fact that sales have improved for two months straight after declining steadily for the first half of the year, is a hopeful sign. However, unemployment, mortgage delinquencies, and foreclosures remain a challenge to a quick housing recovery.”
Looking at the single-family housing market in Massachusetts, Timothy Warren said: “Median home prices are about 21 percent lower than they were four years ago when prices in Massachusetts peaked. The market has a way to go before prices begin to stabilize.”
On the local condo market, he added: “The condominium market hasn’t experienced any gains in monthly sales for over two years, and condo prices have fallen sharply. But in the last two months, declines in both sales and prices eased a bit.”
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors also issued its monthly report on the local real estate market today. While it uses a different method to track housing activity, its results were generally in line with those of the Warren Group's.
In August, 4,055 single family homes were sold in Massachusetts, up 0.4 percent from August 2008 and down 9.1 percent from July, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said.
The August median selling price for a single-family home was $315,000, down 3.1 percent from August 2008 and up 1.6 percent from July, the association said.
On the condo front, there were 1,748 Massachusetts units sold in August, down 3.5 percent from August 2008 and down 4 percent from July. The median condo selling price was $279,000 last month, down 4.6 percent from August 2008 and up 1.5 percent from July.
“With both home sales and pending sales up in August and prices at their highest point so far in 2009, we have reason to feel confident that the market will continue to improve,” association president Gary Rogers said in a statement. “We also anticipate that there could be a rush of activity in October as the days remaining to take advantage of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit continue to tick away.”
Another yardstick for the housing market, the S&P/Case-Shiller Prices Indices, was also released this morning. Many economists consider the Case-Shiller Indices to be the most accurate measures of home values because they track repeat sales. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Case-Shiller Prices Indices out this morning showed that Greater Boston homes increased in value by 0.6 percent in July when compared with values in June.