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The Boston Globe

Business

Mass. home prices rise 14%

The median price for a single-family home in Massachusetts rose to $313,000 last month, nearly 14 percent higher than during April 2012 as increasingly eager buyers and a limited inventory of houses on the market combined to push up values, data released Wednesday show.

April marked the seventh consecutive month of rising home prices, according to the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate. Between January and April, the median selling price climbed to $294,000, 11 percent higher than during the first four months of last year, according to Warren.

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The steep price increase comes as the number of homes sold dropped again. Statewide, 3,504 single-family homes were sold in April, about 1 percent fewer than during that month in 2012.

“There is high demand and low inventory this spring, which is causing this pattern of rising prices and dropping sales volume,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of Warren Group. “Low mortgage rates and steady home values are helping buoy consumer confidence.”

Tight inventory, however, did not hurt sales of condominiums in April. Condo sales climbed more than 8 percent compared with the same time last year, Warren Group reported. The median price for a condo rose to $280,000, about 1 percent above the April 2012 level.

Housing specialists said they are worried that if more people don’t decide to put their homes up for sale soon, the region’s real estate sector could sputter. The number of single-family homes on the market in Massachusetts last month fell by 27.1 percent compared with April of last year, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, which also released data Wednesday.

The number of condos for sale declined by 32.4 percent last month.

But there are some signs the housing crunch could ease. New listings for both condos and single-family homes rose by double-digit margins in April.

“With home prices improving, sellers are finally gaining the confidence they need to list their home,” said association president Kimberly Allard-Moccia, owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree.

“This should help move us closer to a more balanced market,” she added.

Earlier this week, figures released by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed home values in the Boston area increased by 6.7 percent in March compared with the same time last year.

Nationwide, home prices increased 10.9 percent compared with March 2012, Case-Shiller reported, and values were higher in all 20 metro areas measured by the firm.

Because Case-Shiller measures repeat homes sales, it is considered a reliable measure of the US housing market.

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter ­@jbmckim.
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