Shortage of homes on the market slows local housing sales

Massachusetts home sales fell in March because of a shortage of homes on the market, the Warren Group said in its monthly report on the residential real estate market Tuesday.

Single-family home sales dropped 3.6 percent to 3,100 in March when compared with the number sold in March 2012, said the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks local real estate data. That tight inventory helped the median price to rise more than 8 percent to $285,000 on a year-to-year comparison basis.

“Low inventory is plaguing housing markets all over the country, and Massachusetts is no exception,” David Harris, editorial director at the Warren Group, said in a statement. “With mortgage rates low and prices competitive, we’re hopeful more sellers will emerge and the trend in dropping home sales will reverse.”

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“It’s clear that the low supply of homes for sale is continuing to pressure prices,” Harris added.

A recent Globe story noted that a common pattern has been emerging this spring: There are too many potential buyers and too few sellers, resulting in bidding battles in many Boston-area neighborhoods.

Kimberly Allard-Moccia. Photo taken from MAR website.

In any case, the Warren Group noted that in March 2013, Massachusetts condo sales decreased by more than 2 percent to 1,211 on a year-to-year comparison basis.

The median price for condos sold in March was $261,000, up more than 1.5 percent, the Warren Group said.

Separately, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors issued its monthly report on the local housing market Tuesday.

The association uses a different method to track real estate activity than the Warren Group does, but the conclusions of both reports were similar.

“A good supply of homes for sale is the only thing we’re missing from a sustainable housing recovery,” association president Kimberly Allard-Moccia said in a statement.

According to the association, 3,011 detached single-family homes were sold in Massachusetts last month, a 3.3 percent drop from the number sold in March 2012.

Meanwhile, the median selling price for such a home was $290,000, up 7.8 percent on a year-to-year comparison basis.

Sales and median prices of Massachusetts condominiums were also up in March, the association said.

The association also tracks the number of homes and condos for sale.

In March 2012, there were 28,159 homes for sale. This March there were only 19,761 homes for sale, a drop of 29.8 percent.

As for condos, the drop was nearly 34 percent, the association added.