Monday September 3, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts in July reached their highest level for that month in seven years, and the Berkshires appear to be following that trend.

Statewide, sales of single-family homes rose 27 percent in the 12-month period that ended last month, according to the Warren Group of Boston, which publishes Banker & Tradesman, and tracks real estate transactions in Massachusetts.

In Berkshire County, sales of single-family homes in July increased 28.4 percent from July 2011, according to the Warren Group, and by 20.8 percent in statistics compiled by the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.

The two groups use different formulas. The Warren Group tracks every recorded deed change, while the Berkshire County Board of Realtors only includes homes that are marketed to the public.

During the first seven months of 2012, single-family home sales in the Berkshires increased by 19.3 percent according to the Warren Group, and 17.6 percent by the County Board of Realtors statistics. State sales of single-family homes have increased 24.8 percent during the first seven months of 2012, according to the Warren Group.

Berkshire County Board of Realtors President Chapin Fish said the continuation of low interest rates combined with price stabilization have lifted the local housing market out of the doldrums. Total sales of single-family homes in the Berkshires dropped 5 percent in 2011, according to the County Board of Realtors.

"I believe that we hit bottom last fall, and that the market is coming back," said Fish, who works for William Brockman Real Estate in Monterey. "When you look at home sales for the last 13 straight months the median prices are rising."

"There are a lot good signs pointing toward a real estate recovery," said Cory S. Hopkins, the editorial director of the Warren Group, in a written statement.

"But we are comparing sales to a very depressed market last summer," Hopkins said. "So, it's important to step back and realign expectations."

Across Massachusetts, sales of single-family homes last month increased by double digits in every area except Hampden County, where they were up only 6.1 percent, according to the Warren Group. A total of 4,479 homes were sold across the state in July, up from 3,922 during the same month last year. It's the best July for sales volume since 2005, when 6,672 single-family homes were sold.

In the Berkshires, the median sales price for single-family homes last month increased 19.3 percent from July 2011, according to the Warren Group, and 13.2 percent according to the Board of Realtors.

The number of local homes on the market has dropped. According to the Board of Realtors, 1,782 houses were on the market in July 2011, compared to 1,484 last month, a decrease of 16.7 percent. The number of new listings countywide has also fallen from 266 in July 2011 to 209 in July 2012, a drop of 21.4 percent.

"The interests rates are really low still, and prices have definitely stabilized," Fish said. "People are realizing that housing is a great investment. If you want to downsize now is a great time to do it, because you can't beat the interest rates."

Sales of condominiums in the Berkshires, however, were down 43 percent last month from July 2011, although the numbers for both months are only in the single digits, according to the county Board of Realtors. But total condominium sales in the Berkshires this year are up 40.7 percent from 2011, while the median sales price has declined by 23.2 percent. Condominum sales statewide are up 34 percent from last year, according to the Warren Group.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow


Berkshire Real Estate

Figures on Berkshire County Real Estate between January and June 2012 compared to the same time period last year

Northern Berkshire

  • Residential sales: rose 30 percent.
  • Multifamily sales: rose 75 percent.
  • Condominium sales: rose 200 percent.
  • Land sales: rose 350 percent.

Central Berkshire

  • Residential sales: rose 17 percent.
  • Multifamily sales: rose 41 percent.
  • Condominium sales: rose 120 percent.
  • Land sales: rose 150 percent.

Southern Berkshire

  • Residential sales: rose 7 percent.
  • Multifamily sales: declined 33 percent.
  • Condominium sales: rose 23 percent.
  • Land sales: declined 67 percent.

Source: Berkshire County Board of Realtors