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A raw deal for buyers?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 26, 2013 06:58 AM

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The budding spring market is shaping up to be a daunting one for home buyers.

Just call it the worst of both worlds, a bad combo of soaring prices and dwindling listings.

Home sales fell in February by 5 percent across Massachusetts, ending a 13-month winning streak, reports The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Meanwhile, prices jumped 12 percent this February compared to the same time last year.

Don't blame it on the buyers.

There are no lack of would-be homeowners out there, packing open houses and poring over online listings.

Trouble is sellers are increasingly hard to find.

The number of homes on the market fell by a record 28.1 percent in February compared to February 2012, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports. There were just 18,820 listings on the market in February, compared to more than 26,000 last year.

Overall, there is just a 4.8 months supply of unsold homes on the market, easily making it an official sellers market and down by almost half from last February, when the number of unsold homes equaled 8.1 months supply, according to MAR.

Faced with a dearth of homes to pick from, some buyers may be switching their attention to condos.

Condo sales are up 5 percent so far this year.

Yet condos are experiencing the same crunch, with rising prices and falling choices.

The number of condos on the market fell by more than 32 percent in February, with just a 4.1 months supply of unsold units on the market, MAR reports.

Now some of this may be just the crisis of the moment.

As prices rise, more sellers will jump in and giving buyers more to choose from.

But whether that will be enough to keep prices from spiraling upwards is another question.

There has been a three-decade cycle of housing booms/bubbles followed by busts in Greater Boston. And the pattern, if anything, appears to be intensifying.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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