Massachusetts home prices increase modestly in April
Prices for single family homes in Massachusetts increased modestly in April -- marking the first jump in seven months -- igniting cautious hope within the real estate industry that the years-long housing downturn is coming to an end.
Median home prices rose 1.1 percent, to $275,000 in April compared to $272,000 during the same period last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate.
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors, which measures housing sales slightly differently, also reported Tuesday that single-family median home price increased by 2.7 percent for the month of April.
Boston real estate broker John Ranco, said business at his firm is so strong this year that the total dollar amount of sales already surpasses all of 2011.
“The general pattern has been up, up, up,’’ he said who is also vice president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. “There has been a lot of pent up demand.”
The bump in prices is being well-received within the real estate sector and follows other results that suggest the market is strengthening: The number of homes sold in Massachusetts has increased by double-digit rates through the first three months of 2012, according to the Warren Group. Moreover, some communities, including Brookline, Newton and downtown Boston, are seeing bidding wars among potential buyers.
“It looks like the months ahead will continue to be positive as the strong spring and summer market heats up,’’ said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group. “Low mortgage rates and an improving job market in the Bay State are encouraging buyers to enter the market.”
Until now, home values have struggled to recover since the housing market peaked in 2005, triggering a steep decline in prices of about 20 percent before hitting a low in 2009.
Eric Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said the April increase in median prices is significant because it represents the first signs of improvement occurring without the federal homebuyers tax credit, which helped push up home values up in 2009.
“We are starting to see pricing firming up in many markets,’’ he said. “It comes as welcome news.”
But, Belsky added, “I want to see more months before I declare the all clear.”Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @jbmckim.