A house is up for sale Thursday on Commonwealth Avenue in Pittsfield. Sales have increased 15 percent this year over the same time period last year.
A house is up for sale Thursday on Commonwealth Avenue in Pittsfield. Sales have increased 15 percent this year over the same time period last year. (Kayla Galway / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

PITTSFIELD -- Sales of single-family homes in Berkshire County rebounded in 2012 and strong market growth has carried into the first months of 2013.

Overall sales were up 15 percent in the first two months of this year compared to January and February of 2012, according to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. In the same time frame, the number of homes for sale dropped by 12 percent.

Homes are harder to find in the lower price ranges this year, but not at the premium price level, which includes houses in the $1 million range. A $1.6 million home recently sold in New Marlborough.

"There's still far more inventory in premium homes than there are buyers," said Chapin Fish, of William Brockman Real Estate in Monterey.

Lower-priced homes are harder to find this year because so many sold in 2012, Fish said. Also, he said some homeowners are underwater in their mortgages or can't get the price they want for their house. Low inventory can also be assigned to winter, typically a slow time, he said.

Sales of single-family homes in the Berkshires rose 25 percent in 2012, according to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. Sales and price gains last year were the highest since 2005.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors and the Warren Group of Boston, which tracks real estate transactions, reported a 5 percent drop in the sales of single-family homes across Massachusetts in February compared to the same month last year. Both organizations blame a lack of inventory as the reason for the decline.

Last month's drop in statewide single-family home sales was the first in 13 months, according to the Warren Group, and the first in 19 months, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

In Berkshire County, February sales were at the same level as last year, according to the Warren Group, but year-to-date sales locally were down 5.6 percent from the same time period in 2012. The Warren Group tracks every recorded deed change, while the Berkshire County Board of Realtors only counts home sales that are Realtor-assisted.

Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren Jr. attributed the statewide drop in single-family home sales in February to two factors: low inventory and the comparison to last year's strong sales.

"As more sellers list their homes in the spring, activity will pick back up," Warren said in a statement.

Fish agreed.

"Winter certainly feels like it's lasted longer than it usually does, so I think you're seeing a delay," Fish said. "I've still got a foot of snow out here in Sandisfield."

According to the Warren Group, the median sales price for single-family homes in Berkshire County in February jumped 16.7 percent to $175,000 compared to the same month last year, while the year-to-date sales price has gone up 11.8 percent to $173,764.

According to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors, the median sales price for single-family homes in January and February dropped 4 percent in Central Berkshire from the same time period last year, increased 20 percent in North Berkshire, and declined 15 percent in South Berkshire.

Regionally, the biggest gains so far this year have come in South Berkshire, where home sales in January and February are up 34 percent from the same time period last year, and the dollar volume of the sales that have been transacted has risen by 55 percent to $17.5 million.

In Central Berkshire, home sales are up 17 percent from last year, while the dollar volume has increased 12 percent to $9.3 million. In North Berkshire, sales are down by 24 percent, but the dollar volume rose by 3 percent, from $3.5 million to $3.6 million.

The Berkshire County Board of Realtors will release results for the first quarter of 2013 in April.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.