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Real Estate Market May Be Rebounding In Mass.

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – If you have been waiting for the real estate market to bottom out, you may not want to wait any longer. While home prices may not be jumping, sales in many communities are. Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says brokers and those who track the housing market say there is reason for optimism.

Just like our early March daffodils, pending home sale signs are popping up on lawns all across eastern Massachusetts.

“We are seeing properties with multiple offers,” says Mike Brasco.

Brasco, who owns Century 21 in Brighton, says his office alone has seen a dozen properties go under agreement in the past 60 days.

Realtors say a traditional spring market, pent up demand and a sense that interest rates are now heading higher seem to have more buyers writing deposit checks.

Brasco says, “I think unlike what we are hearing on a national level which is very poor and prices falling, we are not seeing that. In fact here in Brighton, we are seeing the opposite of that. Inventory is down and prices are up.”

In fact, supply in some Boston neighborhoods is now tight.

One home in Brighton for example, listed for $318,000, was on the market for just one day and had eight offers. Brasco says it was one of just a couple of single family homes for sale in all of Brighton.

So how good is the news?

Banker and Tradesmen says in February, pending home sales were up 44% year to year, 30% for condominiums.

And most real estate experts agree, when the numbers for March come out they could be just as robust.

Real estate sales person Shelby Nelson has been busy. She says closer to Boston, rising rents are making a lot of people rethink their housing situation.

Shelby says, “Personally this past week, four properties went under agreement and the week before that, two.”

The Massachusetts Realtor’s Association tells WBZ that single family pending sales are now up for the 10th straight month.

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board prepared the following information for WBZ:

In the Detached Single-Family Home Market:

● The number of detached single-family homes sold rose on an annual basis for an eighth consecutive month in February, increasing 32.7 percent over the same month last year. It’s the largest percentage increase in year-over-year sales since June 2010, the final month of eligibility for the federal home buyer tax credit, when sales improved 23 percent from the same month one year earlier. Additionally, the 471 single-family homes sold in February is the highest sales volume for the month in five years, dating back to February 2007 when 552 homes sold. The last time home sales improved for eight consecutive months on an annual basis was November 2009 – June 2010.

Several factors have contributed to the rebound in market activity, including record low mortgage rates, an improved job market, and rising rents in greater Boston – all of which are motivating buyers to purchase a home.

Historically, the 471 detached homes sold in February 2012 ranks twelfth highest all-time, but is well below the record level for the month set in February 2002 when 616 single-family homes were sold in greater Boston. However, the February 2012 sales volume is 44 percent higher than February 2009, when just 334 single-family homes were sold.

● The median selling price for detached single-family homes climbed modestly on an annual basis in February, increasing 4.2 percent over the past 12 months to $395,000. It’s the largest annual percentage increase in the monthly median price since last May, when the median single-family home price increased 8 percent from the same month in 2010.

Last month’s gain in the median selling price reflects increased optimism in the housing market, as evidence by the extended period of monthly sales growth dating back to last July, steady decline in homes available for sale over the past six months, and recent occurrence of multiple offer situations on some properties.

In the Condominium Market:

● Condominium sales rose 10.5 percent in February, increasing from 343 condos sold a year ago to 397 this February. This marks the seventh time in the last eight months that condo sales have improved on an annual basis, and is the largest percentage increase in monthly sales volume on an annual basis since sales improved 9.3 percent in November 2011.

Conversely, on a month-to-month basis, condominium sales volume declined 7.8 percent in February from one month earlier. While down nearly 37 percent from the record sales level for the month of 601 condos sold in February 2007, the 397 condos sold in January 2012 ranks as the eighth best sales total for any February in Greater Boston.

● The average time it took for condominiums to sell declined by 9 days over the past year to an average of 117 days in February 2012, but is up by one week (7 days) from January. As a result, the average list time on the market for condos sold this past February is the highest in 12 months dating back to February 2011 when it tool an average of 126 days for a condo to sell.

● Pending sales of condominiums increased for the ninth time in the past 10 months, increasing 30 percent over February 2011. It’s the largest annual percentage increase in pending sales since March 2010, when pending sales rose 40.9 percent from the previous March. Pending sales also rose sharply, on a month-to-month basis, jumping 32 percent over January’s pending sales activity.

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