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Mass. home sales rise, but prices fall in March

The sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts rose nearly 20 percent last month when compared to sales in March 2011, but the median price for single-family homes fell for the sixth straight month, the Warren Group reported Tuesday morning.

In the Bay State, sales for condos and condo prices both posted solid gains last month, said the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks real estate activity.

After a tough 2011, the local housing market showed signs of gathering momentum in the first three months of 2012.

In March, single-family home sales in Massachusetts were up nearly 20 percent to 3,205 in March, compared with 2,688 in March 2011, the Warren Group said.


The median price for single-family homes sold in March declined 3.3 percent to $260,000 on a year-to-year comparison basis. It was the sixth straight month that monthly home prices have fallen year-over-year, the Warren Group said.

“In studying patterns of previous housing slumps and recoveries, I’m not surprised median prices are continuing to drop,” Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. “Housing sales will continue to rise, but it will take several more months for median prices to follow.”

Commenting on the state of the housing market during the first three months of 2012, Timothy Warren added: “Starting the year with a strong first quarter is a good indicator of things to come. After such a depressed year of sales in 2011, we’re likely to see more positive year-over-year comparisons in months to come. The market has a good head of steam built up right now.”

An improving job market, mortgage rates near historically low levels, and a tight rental housing market are among the factors giving the residential real estate market a lift in Massachusetts.

As for Bay State condo sales, they rose 11.4 percent to 1,189 last month, from 1,067 in March 2011, the Warren Group said; the median price for condos sold in March was $265,000, up more than 15 percent.


Separately, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors issued its monthly report on the local housing market Tuesday. The association uses a different method to calculate sales, but the results of its March report were roughly in line with those of the Warren Group’s.

In a statement, Massachusetts Association of Realtors Trisha McCarthy offered her perspective on the current state of the local housing market.

“Another month of improved home sales is another month closer to a stable housing market here in Massachusetts,” McCarthy said. “Confidence continues to build for good reason, but unlike the run-up to the ‘bubble,’ there is a healthy element of realism in what buyers can afford and what homes are worth.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at