Massachusetts home sales up 10 percent through November

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BOSTON >> Despite brutal winter weather that delayed the start of the usual home-buying season, 2015 has featured an historic burst of growth in the housing market, analysts said in a report released Tuesday morning.

Adding to the already positive year for the housing market, November home sales in Massachusetts were up more than 10 percent over the same month last year, according to the Warren Group's report.

The 4,011 single-family homes sales in November marked a 10.3 percent increase over the 3,635 sales in November 2014, according to the report. The median sale price for single-family homes ticked up 2.2 percent, to $324,900 last month.

"The first five months of the year were pretty bad, actually, because of the snow ... so home sales really lagged through May. But starting in June they took off like gangbusters," Ian Murphy, of the Warren Group, told the News Service. "Two thirds of all home sales in Massachusetts occurred between June and October. That's never happened before, it's always much closer to 50 percent. So it was really an historic burst of home sale activity."

That surge, plus the double-digit sales increase in November, makes 2015 "very remarkable, especially considering how slow the start was," Murphy said.

That single-family home sales are up 10 percent statewide over 2014, the Warren Group said, is a sign that the economy has rebounded to the point that residents are comfortable buying and selling houses.

"The growth of the housing market in 2015 is a welcome sign that many Massachusetts residents are starting to feel confident in their own personal economic outlook," Cassidy Murphy, editorial director of the Warren Group, said in a statement. "Low inventory and pent-up demand have combined to bring up prices in many places, and enough time has passed since the recession that equity has grown sufficiently and homeowners that were once underwater on their mortgages can sell their homes."

In particular, Ian Murphy said, the Warren Group noticed that year-to-date sales in Bristol, Plymouth and Essex counties have outperformed the state average during 2015. Sales are up 11.6 percent over 2014 in Bristol County, up 11.79 percent in Plymouth County and up 12.74 percent in Essex County.

"Those places were the hardest hit, and they're seeing the most amount of growth now because they fell the furthest," he said. "Those are places where prices are really starting to come back and people are starting to get equity back in their homes."

Condo sales in Massachusetts were also up in November. The 1,583 condo sales last month accounted for a 16.5 percent increase over the previous November. And the $325,000 median sale price of a condo in November is up 12.1 percent over last year, partially due to the increasing availability of luxury condos in Boston.

"For a while there during the credit crunch and at the depths of the recession, the only building project that made economic sense for developers to do were these large luxury condo developments," Ian Murphy said.

The Warren Group is expected to provide a more comprehensive look at 2015 next month once December data is complete, Ian Murphy said.

And with an eye on 2016, Cassidy Murphy said she does not expect the recent Federal Reserve short-term interest rate hike to have any significant impact on the state's housing market.

"I don't think it's going to make much of a difference. It's a very small rise. Even if they raise it again in the spring, it's not going to have too much of an effect on the buyers who want and need and are willing to buy at the rates that are available," she said in a Warren Group podcast released Tuesday. "It's not going to scare anyone off."


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