Mass home sales up in March

Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts jumped nearly 20 percent last month when compared to March 2011, the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases.
At the same time, median prices dropped in March when compared to same month a year ago, the sixth straight month of lower prices.
The Boston-based Warren Group reported this week that median prices dropped more than three percent in March to $260,000, while the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports a two percent decrease to $267,500.
It was the best March since 2007.
Warren Group Chief Executive Timothy Warren Jr. says the latest figures are an indication that the market has “a good head of steam built up right now.”
Westfield is following the statewide trend, according to local real estate agents.
Lisa Oleksak Sullivan of Coldwell Banker said home sales are on the rise locally.
“The home market in general is healthier, the volume in sales is much greater than last year, as well,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said the average home in the Westfield area sold for $195,000 last year, with the average home on the market for 161 days. She expects better numbers this year.
“We are having a really healthy market year, we are seeing a big improvement from last year,” said Sullivan. “The mortgage rates are still really good, and there is always a lot of activity in the real-estate market this time of year. This is good for buyers because of the inventory and good for the sellers because there are a lot of buyers out there.”
Leslie Lambert of Park Square Realty agreed.
“For Park Square specifically, our showing schedule is up 200%, our open house attendance has doubled, and sales have more than doubled since this same time last year,” said Lambert.
Lambert said in the city of Westfield, sales volume from January 1, 2012 to April 25 is up 13 percent over last year, and the number of sales has increased 16.5 percent.
“We at Park Square Realty are definitely trending in the right direction,” Lambert said.
Buyers are not looking for one specific style of home, added Sullivan.
“There are a lot of people up-sizing, and down sizing, and there isn’t one type of home in general that is selling more than others,” she said.
While home purchases are on the rise, so are foreclosures.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced an initiative designed to prevent foreclosures by increasing the number of loan modification specialists available to distressed borrowers and offering a number of grant opportunities
Coakley’s “HomeCorps” program is funded by the state’s share of a nationwide settlement involving the five largest mortgage servicers and their connection with unlawful foreclosures and loan servicing.
The goal of the program is to ensure that all Massachusetts borrowers facing foreclosure receive an evaluation and assistance from a loan modification specialist.
As part of the program, Coakley’s office has established a new hotline to make mortgage experts available to assist borrowers facing foreclosure
Coakley said more than 45,000 people in Massachusetts have lost their homes to foreclosure as a result of the economic downturn and thousands more are facing foreclosure.

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