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Hot fall market shatters records - and raises concerns

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis November 20, 2013 06:07 AM

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Bay State pending home sales hit record highs this fall, new data just out shows.

The number of single-family homes put under agreement in September and October were the highest on record since the Massachusetts Association of Realtors began tracking the numbers back in 2004.

Pending home sales across Massachusetts rose 17 percent this October compared to last year, to 4,793. September sales were also up 16.2 percent year over year, to 4,297.

Prices also rose as well - by double digits yet again - up 12.3 percent in October, to $320,000, compared to October 2012, MAR reports.

By comparison, back during the bubble years, there were 4,048 pending home sales in October and 3,959 in September, according to MLS numbers collected by the Realtors organization.

The October numbers were particularly telling, coming smack dab in the middle of the banana-republic government shutdown and fears that Congressional lunkheads might send the country - and the global economy - barreling over the fiscal cliff.

Looks like most buyers here simply shrugged this nonsense off.

After all, pending sales are the freshest indicator of market activity, based on purchase and sales agreements just inked, but which won't actually close and become official sales for another couple months.

It was much the same story with pending condo sales as well, which were up 22 percent over last year, to 1,853 in October.

Of course, the grumpy housing bears out there will look this blog post and read it as some sort of cheer for the real estate industry.

Learn to read more closely then, for the numbers, if anything, are a warning sign that whatever fleeting affordability the downturn created in the Greater Boston real estate market is fading fast.

The real issue now is not whether there is some big cool down lurking around the corner for the real estate market. The big real estate sites have been pushing this idea hard, but they operate from a national perspective that is skewed by the dramatic swings in crazy boom/bust markets in Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Rather, the real issue is what buyers are increasingly struggling with across Greater Boston frankly the state as well. And that's how to afford to buy a half decent home in the one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

Right now, rising sales are pushing up prices at an unsustainable pace, with not enough homes being put on the market - or built - to keep up with demand.


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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