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The return of panic buying?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 14, 2013 09:08 AM

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Homes that couldn't sell last spring are now getting scooped up.

While the number of homes for sale has fallen to all time lows as sellers sit on the fence, buyers are snapping up whatever homes are out there, dogs and all.

Just take a look at the pending sales report for April, which hit an all-time high after a sluggish March and February.

Pending sales of single-family homes across Massachusetts shot up more than 32 percent in April compared to the same month last spring, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports.

That's the biggest percentage jump since April 2010, when buyers were scrambling to buy a home, any home, to qualify for the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit.

But in terms of the total volume of pending sales, this was the most active April ever - or at least since MAR began tracking the number of homes put under agreement, but not yet closed, back in 2004.

Nearly 6,000 homes were put under agreement in April, compared to just below 4,500 in April 2012.

It comes after a drop in pending sales in February and a fairly modest, single-digit increase in March.

What's truly amazing is not just the big jump in pending sales, but the fact that it comes as the number of homes to pick from has dropped anywhere from 30 to 50 percent from from were already pretty low levels last spring.

What's driving buyers right now? Arguably it is fear that prices are starting to rise - no small consideration given Greater Boston has been and remains one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

But buyers are also nervous about how long rock bottom interest rates will last, as they should be.

All those low Fed rates have boosted buying power by as much as 30 percent.

Next time you are out for a walk or run, take a look around your neighborhood.

When I go running, I see for-sale signs suddenly sprouting up in front of cramped, marginal homes with some superficial improvements. Homes that look like time forgot, aged and ill-maintained, but now suddenly are being marketed as some sort of steal.

Are you determined to buy this spring? Have you bought already? Are buyers getting in before things really get crazy, or settling for homes they really should be thinking twice about?

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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