, Salem, MA


July 18, 2012

A hot commodity

SALEM — The condominiums at 315 Essex St. were beautiful — cherry wood cabinets, inlaid wood floors and a downtown location in the McIntire Historic District. But they’d been on the market for nine months and weren’t selling.

The developer who’d converted the building into condominiums finally called it quits and sold it to local real estate agent Betsy Merry, president of the 3-year-old Merry Fox Realty.

When she put it back on the market this spring, it was an entirely different story.

She and business partner Dan Fox had all six units under agreement in two weeks.

It appears they were helped by a pent-up demand for affordable, quality housing and the desire to take advantage of what a small city like Salem has to offer, real estate agents say.

In fact, there’s been something of a surge in demand for condos in the Witch City. In the second quarter of this year, 70 condos were sold in Salem, compared with 61 during the same period last year, according to Multiple Listing Service data.

“An even more impressive statistic is the number of condos that went under agreement during the second quarter of 2012 versus the second quarter of 2011,” Fox said.

During April, May and June, 93 condos were under contract in Salem, up from 68 during the same time period one year ago — a 37 percent increase, Fox said. These numbers include condos that were sold, as well as those under agreement but that had not yet closed.

With asking prices of $250,000 to $380,000, and fees of $160 to $235 a month, The McIntire, as the Essex Street condominium building is dubbed, attracted a range of buyers: a young professional who works at a Boston hospital and plans to walk to the train, an airline pilot, a scientist with a teenager. One of the buyers lives in Boston and wanted a second home.

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