The number of home sales in Massachusetts rose slightly in August while the rate of foreclosures fell sharply.
In what some may say is a signal of this region's housing market recovery, sales of single-family homes rose two percent for the second consecutive month.
"This is a modest increase in single-family homes sales, but the fact that sales have improved for two months straight after declining steadily for the first half of the year, is a hopeful sign," said Timothy Warren, CEO of The Warren Group whose company provided this data.
Warren went on to say that the state's unemployment and mortgage delinquencies remain a challenge to a quick recovery.
The other side of the coin remains in the still-sliding values of real estate in Massachusetts. The median selling price for a single-family home dropped 6.2 percent to $302,625 in August from $332,500 during the same month last year.
If we are comparing this to our market of four years ago - median homes prices are around 21 percent lower than they were then. But, do we really want to go there?
The foreclosure picture also improved last month with the number of foreclosures falling sharply. The Warren Group reported that foreclosures declined 35 percent from a year ago. At the same time, initial foreclosure proceedings soared by more than 150 percent in August. This sudden surge in proceedings may have, in fact, been caused by a change in the state's law last May that forced lenders to delay initial proceedings, keeping the numbers artificially low for the past few months.
The number of initial foreclosure proceedings does not tell the entire story since many foreclosures are resolved before the lender takes the property. Some homeowners will pay what they owe, some will renegotiate with the bank and others may actually sell their homes. Last year, out of 21,000 foreclosures that were initiated, only 12,000 were completed.
State and federal governments have also put into motion a number of programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and HUD has said that it has plans right now to modify mortgage for around 500,000 home owners.
Aside from today's number from The Warren Group, a recent report from Zillow.com indicated that home prices in the Greater Boston Area may be turning a corner. While this is anything but full recovery, some signs are indicating that we may actually be heading in the right direction.
Copyright 2009 - Claudette Millette, President, TheBuyersCounsel - 800-392-1446, E-mail
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