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January 30, 2013

Home sales soaring regionally

Prices still struggling to increase

NEWBURYPORT — Believing the real estate market has “turned the corner” since the bubble burst in late 2007, a Boston-based analyst is reporting that last year was the best year in home sales in the state since 2006.

According to new data released last week by The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, single-family home sales in Massachusetts rose 18 percent in 2012, marking 12 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains and the best year on record since 2006. In all of 2012, home sales statewide rose to 46,887, up from 39,594 home sales in 2011. This is the highest number of annual sales recorded statewide since 2006, when there were 50,724 sales.

“I would characterize 2012 as the year of robust recovery in the real estate market,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. “It is clear we have turned the corner and are gaining ground rapidly. I contrast the 18 percent gain last year with the decline of 6 percent in 2011.”

Most local communities shared in the market’s good fortune last year, according to Warren Group’s statistics. Except for Merrimac and West Newbury, all cities and towns in the region saw increases in single-home sales volume when compared to 2011, with Salisbury seeing the largest volume increase of about 70 percent, and Newburyport and Amesbury at the lower end with 16 percent and 19 percent sales increase, respectively.

Merrimac’s sales volume in 2012 was the same as in 2011, with West Newbury dropping about 7 percent. The communities of Georgetown, Groveland, Newbury and Rowley all saw their sales increase in the 40 percent range.

When it comes to prices, according to Warren’s data, the median cost of homes — falling over the past six years — on average statewide inched up in 2012 by 1.8 percent to $290,000, from $285,000 in 2011.

Locally, however, in some cases prices fell in communities that experienced increases in sales volume. According to Warren’s statistics, this is the scenario in 2012 in Newburyport’s market, where median sales price dropped about 11 percent to $375,000, while volume rose by double digits. Amesbury also saw a drop in median price of about 10 percent to $251,600, corresponding with its increased number of sales in 2012 of almost 19 percent.

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