SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 28, 2012

Housing rings up gains in November

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The pristine ranch at 31 Brookside Ave. has two bedrooms, two baths and nearly 1,780 square feet of living space and is nestled at the end of a cul-de-sac in the quiet Beaver Park neighborhood off Maple Street.

It can be yours for $329,900, according to various real estate websites.

The asking price for this house — which has been lowered since it went on sale in late October — is representative of the median selling price of a single-family home in Danvers for the month of November, which was $341,000, according to figures released yesterday by The Warren Group, a publisher of real estate and financial information.

The median home-selling price in town is up nearly 6.6 percent compared with the median price of $320,000 in November 2011, and this price trend is not confined to Danvers.

Both The Warren Group and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors yesterday released reports that show statewide that both home and condominium sales, along with prices, are up in a cold, dreary month not typically associated with lots of open houses.

“The combination of buyer activity and decreasing inventory has pushed median sales prices up in November,” said 2012 MAR President Trisha McCarthy, a broker at Keller Williams Realty in Newburyport, in a statement.

The Warren Group says that statewide, this past November was the best such November for home sales since 2005. The Warren Group said single-family home sales jumped 38 percent last month, compared with November 2011. It’s the largest percentage increase this year. The Warren Group counted 4,539 homes sales in November, up from 3,290 during the same month last year.

“We’re winding down a pretty strong year of real estate in Massachusetts,” said The Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren Jr. in a prepared statement. “It looks like sales will be the highest since 2006.”

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors counted 4,061 sales of detached single-family homes in November, a 29.2 percent increase from the same month last year.

Remarkably, in what The Warren Group said is a sign that condos are being seen as alternatives to apartment living, statewide, both homes and condos had the same median price in November: $275,000.

“We’re also seeing median prices start to creep up,” Warren said, “another positive sign of a healthy market recovery.”

Realtors chalked up a nearly 36 percent increase in year-over-year condo sales and found the median condo selling price by its brokers in November was $290,000, more than the median price Realtors recorded for single-family homes.

Danvers, like many North Shore communities, saw an increase in both prices and sales for single-family homes, though some communities like Ipswich saw dramatic dips in both sales and prices in November, compared with the same month last year, according to The Warren Group.

Marblehead and Peabody saw sales dips in November, but increases in home prices. Swampscott and Salem saw gains in both sales and prices for homes. Topsfield doubled home sales in November year-over-year, but saw sale prices plunge nearly 32 percent. However, year-to-date, Topsfield showed strong gains in both homes sold and prices.

Year-over-year condo prices in Danvers, Beverly and Peabody showed weakness despite increased sales. In Marblehead and Salem, the condo market showed significant gains in sales and prices.

Danvers Selectman Dan Bennett, the owner/broker of Dan Bennett Real Estate on Page Street downtown, said November and December were busy months for showing homes. And it was not just showing that was going on, Bennett said, but people were buying.

November sales in town were up more than 64 percent, with 14 homes sold in November 2011 and 23 sold last month. Year-to-date, home sales in Danvers are up more than 21 percent compared with the same January-to-November time frame last year.

“Overall, prices have stabilized in the Danvers market,” said Bennett, who said many of the home showings involve first-time homebuyers, lured by low interest rates and tired of high rents.

“They are out there looking at what is available in the $320,000 price range,” Bennett said. “Again, there is not a lot of inventory in that price range, which is good news for the sellers. Sellers haven’t had good news in a long time.”

Statewide, Realtors said the inventory for single-family homes dropped nearly 26 percent year over year. A year ago November, there were 9.2 months of supply of homes, and last month, there were 5.7 months. The condo market saw a 34 percent dip in inventory, and months of supply fell 45.6 percent.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.