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Mass. housing sales fell slightly in December

A sold sign is seen in front of a home, in Millis.

Steve Senne/AP File

The Massachusetts housing market took a breather in December after a torrid third quarter, with single-family home sales down slightly last month because of a shortage of homes for sale and rising interest rates, the Warren Group said Wednesday.

In December, 3,712 single family homes were sold in the Bay State, down less than 1 percent from the same month a year ago. It was the second straight month of home sale decreases, said the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks local real estate activity.

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Meanwhile, median prices continued to rise, the firm said in a press release. The median for a single-family in Massachusetts was $311,125 last month, up 3.7 percent from a year ago.

“Low inventory combined with increasing interest rates have slowed the market at the end of 2013,” Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. “Sales and prices set a torrid pace in the third quarter of 2013 and through October. Now the market is taking a breather.”

As for Bay State condominium sales, they were up 15.3 percent in December on a year-to-year comparison basis, with 1,614 units sold last month. The median condo price in December was $295,000, a 7.3 percent increase from a year ago, the Warren Group said.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors issued a separate report on the local housing market Wednesday. While the association uses a different method to track real estate activity, its results were roughly similar to those of the Warren Group’s.

December single-family home sales were essentially flat, the association said, as median prices rose for the 15th straight month.

“While 2013 will be remembered for a lack of homes for sale, price increases have improved overall home equity, which should help push sellers into the market in 2014,” association president Peter Ruffini said in a statement.

In 2013, there were 49,699 single-family homes sold in Massachusetts, up 4.9 percent from the previous year, the Warren Group said; condo sales for 2013 rose 6.8 percent to 20,332 condos sold.

In its report, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors noted that the inventory of single-family homes as of Dec. 31, 2013 decreased 21.7 percent from December 2012, and detached single-family homes stayed on the market an average of 99 days in December 2013 compared with an average of 130 days in December 2012.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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