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No fall rebound – downturn in Bay State home sales accelerates

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis October 5, 2010 06:59 AM

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Pending home sales for September are out this morning. And the numbers look pretty ugly.

The number of homes put under agreement across the state plunged 19 percent in September compared to last year, while condo sales posted a 27 percent year-over-year swoon, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports.

Maybe even more critically, the month-over-month downward momentum, instead of braking, appears to be picking up speed again.

As the summer neared its end in August, it actually appeared as if the swoon in home sales, which began after the home buyer tax credit expired in the spring, might have been losing steam. The number of homes put under agreement in August, while still off sharply from even anemic 2009 levels, actually increased 1.2 percent over July.

But that appears to have been just a blip on the way down.

For September pending sales are off month-over-month as well – more than 12.3 percent for home sales and 11.7 percent for condos.

While the real estate industry gets its fair share of flak, I thought the statement by MAR’s president, Kevin Sears, gets an A for candor.

Of course, no sooner than I write this than somebody will blast me for being a shill for the Realtors. Let’s just say I haven’t always been their favorite person.

But for an industry that is faulted for parroting the “always a good time to buy line,” I thought this was remarkably straight up.

“Concerns over the economy and unemployment continued to keep a number of potential homebuyers on the sidelines as homes put under agreement went down compared to the same time last year when buyers were trying to qualify for the initial homebuyer tax credit deadline,” said Sears, broker/co-owner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield, in a press statement. “While the market still favors the buyer and interest rates remain historically low, confidence in the market plays a significant factor even for the most qualified buyers when it comes to purchasing a home.”

Fire away!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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