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Mass. home sales fell in July while prices went up

Home sales in Massachusetts fell last month while prices continued their rise as a lack of properties on the market continued to hamper the local housing market, a Boston real estate tracking firm reported Tuesday.

Single-family home sales declined 4.2 percent, compared to July 2013, the first year-over-year sales decline for the month since July 2010, Warren Group reported.

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The median sales price rose just under 2 percent to $355,000, the 22d consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.

Condominium sales also declined last month, slipping 4.3 percent from a year earlier, Warren Group said.

The median price for a condominium rose to $327,000, up 5.5 percent from $310,000 in July 2013.

An insufficient number of properties on the market to meet demand is driving the trend of declining sales and rising prices, said Cassidy Murphy, editorial director of Warren Group, publisher of the trade journal Banker & Tradesman.

In the first seven months of the year, single-family home sales were down 2.3 percent from the same period a year earlier; the median price was up about 5 percent.

“The decrease in single-family home and condo sales is discouraging, and the limited inventory is definitely a factor,” Murphy said in a statement. “The rise in the median selling price for both single-family homes and condos indicates that good inventory is selling quickly, and at a good price. There just isn’t a lot of it.”

In a separate report, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors also reported that inventories remain tight. The number of homes on the market, compared to a year earlier, fell for the 29th consecutive month. The trade group tracks a slightly narrower segment of the housing market than Warren Group does, but reported similar trends.

Single-family home sales in the state declined 6.3 percent from July 2013, while the median price rose about 3 percent to $360,000, the second-highest median price for the month since July 2007, according to the realtors.

Condominium sales declined about 8 percent in July from a year earlier, while the median price of a condo rose 2.6 percent, to $320,000.

Also on Tuesday, a widely followed measure of the housing market, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, reported that Boston-area prices rose 7 percent in June, compared to 8.1 percent on average for 20 metropolitan areas tracked by the index.

Case-Shiller noted a slowdown in home price appreciation across the nation in June.

Boston prices increased a half percent in June after rising 1 percent in May, according to the index.

Price increases among the 20 metropolitan areas averaged 1 percent in June, compared to 1.2 percent in May.

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