Globe North Business Notebook

Gloucester, Georgetown lead plunge in house prices

By Kathy McCabe
March 8, 2009
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Prices of homes that were sold plunged in January north of Boston, where declines in some communities exceeded the statewide average of 20.2 percent, a seven-year low, according to new data from The Warren Group of Boston.

Gloucester's home prices dropped 55.9 percent, to $249,000, compared with $564,000 in January 2008. Newburyport's median price dropped 33.2 percent, to $369,000, compared with $552,5000 last January. Peabody posted an 18.8 percent decline, to $270,000, compared with $332,500 a year ago.

The median price is the number at which half of the homes sold above - and half below. Statewide, the average median price declined 20.2 percent, from $325,000 in January 2008, to $259,250, the lowest it has been since March 2002, according to The Warren Group.

"This is really a slow start to this year's housing market," said Timothy M. Warren, the company's chief executive. Unemployment and foreclosures have contributed to the drop in both median prices and sales. Sales of single-family homes dropped 10.3 percent in January, the most recent month for which data is available.

More modest declines were recorded in Amesbury, which had a 7.6 percent drop, to $300,000, compared with $325,000 last January. Everett and Lynn, cities hard hit by foreclosures, had minimal changes. Everett's median price dropped 1.7 percent, to $275,000, compared with $280,000 a year ago. Lynn had a 2.1 percent decline, to $186,000, from $190,000 last year.

Towns where the housing stock is smaller and less diverse, had some of the steepest losses. In Georgetown, the median price dropped 55.8 percent, to $249,000, compared with $564,000 in January 2008. Saugus suffered an 18.4 percent decline, to $274,000, compared with $336,160, while Winthrop had a 26.7 percent drop, to $268,000, from $366,050.

17 companies recruiting at fair
UPS, Verizon, and Raytheon are among more than 17 companies recruiting new employees Tuesday during the March Madness Job Fair run by the ValleyWorks Career Center. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill.

"Anyone looking for a job is welcome," said Larry Snow, a business service representative at ValleyWorks, which is run by the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board in Lawrence. "Given how the economy is, we're expecting a lot of people."

UPS is hiring part-time package handlers at locations in Lynnfield and Chelmsford. The positions also come with benefits, Snow said. Raytheon needs to hire 100 assemblers to work on its missile production line in Andover and Tewskbury. Starting pay is $12 to $15, Snow said. Verizon has openings for sales and customer service representatives in Andover. In Wilmington, Frito-Lay has openings for sales and delivery jobs, with pay starting at $600 per week for drivers, Snow said.

"We've been surprised by some of the offerings," he said. "This is a very good opportunity for those companies that are hiring to meet people."

Business-owner training to start
Thinking of going solo in the work world?

The Entrepreneurial Training Program at Northern Essex Community College still has openings for its new session Tuesday. The 20-week program covers finance, marketing, legal issues, networking, sales, and other issues.

People who have been laid off from jobs may qualify for tuition assistance. Veterans, reservists, or their dependents may also qualify for federal assistance.

The program will meet at the college's Corporate and Community Education Center in North Andover. Contact Diane Zold-Gross at 978-659-1221 or or Dianne Lahaye at 978-659-1222 or

The Homebased Businesswomen's Network will hold its monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Village Green Restaurant, Route 1 in Danvers. "Enhance Your Business By Going Green" will be the discussion topic. Guest speakers are Marilyn Baer, a founding member of Build Green Maine, and Helaine McCullers, owner of Harmony Health Resources of Beverly. Admission is free to members, $10 for guests. For reservations, go to

The Enterprise Center at Salem State College on Tuesday will present a free seminar, Maximizing Your Website. It is the second of four free technology seminars planned this month. Other upcoming sessions are March 19, Transform Your Company With Mobile Technology; and March 24, Leveraging Social Media for Your Business. All sessions run from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the center, located on the college's central campus on Loring Avenue.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at

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