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Pending home sales rose in March

Preliminary figures suggest that the spring housing market in Massachusetts has gotten off to a good start.

According to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, the number of single-family homes put under agreement in March was up 38.8 percent compared to the same time last year. It was the 11th straight month of year-over-year gains, and the first time since June 2011 that pending sales have exceeded the 4,000 homes level. Last month, 4,519 single-family homes in Massachusetts were put under agreement, the association said. As for pending condo sales, they were up just over 30 percent on a year-to-year basis.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors refers to this metric as pending sales. The association’s pending sales analysis counts homes that have been put under agreement but are not yet completed sales. Often six weeks can elapse between the time a home is put under agreement and the time that the sale closes. In general, economists look at closed home sales when they seek to evaluate the condition of the market, but those data points can be several weeks old. According to the association, pending sales can sometimes give more of a real-time indication of where the local housing market might be heading.

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February is the most recent month for which completed sales figures are available. In February, sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts rose 33 percent, making it the best February showing in five years and providing more evidence that the housing market is gathering momentum.

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