Inventory woes continue to shape our housing market
By Steve Levine
For the last two months, my column has been geared towards the same topic, and even though it’s a bit unusual I have to say that this column will address once again the issue of the unbelievable lack of inventory here in Central Massachusetts. Those who follow the news will note that the most recent housing report is out, and it was a shock to many – but not to those of us who are in the field every day seeing what’s going on.
Sales of single family homes climbed to a nearly two-year high, with 4,510 homes sold state-wide in May – the most in any single month since June 2010! May was also the fifth consecutive month of sales increases on a year-over-year basis. According to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, there was a 27% increase in sales of single family homes, with a median selling price of $295K, nearly identical to that of last year, indicating that we seem to have reached the bottom. Even condo sales were up 30-50% over last year, and we all know those can lag behind single family properties.
With the market stabilizing, and fixed rates still well below 4%, the countless buyers who’ve been sitting on the sidelines have come out in spades, and I’m again seeing multiple offers, some well over asking price, on nice properties here in our area. The challenge, now, has morphed from one of a lack of buyers, to a lack of decent homes to buy.
Could it be that it’s suddenly a “sellers market” again? Well, it depends on who you ask. I can tell you that if you ask almost any seller that I’ve worked with in the last three months, the answer will be yes – and that applies to all price ranges. After all, we had two offers on Boylston in the 100s; Bryant Ave in the high 200s; several on Bumble Bee in the mid 300s; six offers on Valley Forge; three on Hillando, Browning, and Holly Lane; and a bunch on Bayberry, all in the 400s. This in an across-the-board issue that is finally enabling sellers to take back some control, and to select which buyer they want to do business with, not just based on price, but based on down payment, qualifications, and terms of the offer itself.
In the end, my biggest challenge is that as soon as I get something nice and properly priced, it’s gone. Going into this weekend, I think I only have a handful left in inventory at all, as opposed to the 10-20 I like to see at this time of year.
Because of that, I’m going to try something innovative, and allow then next ten home sellers to sign up with my Homeowners Blend program that I usually announce only at Christmas time to stimulate some winter listings. This allows folks to sell with real estate fees as low as 2.5% total, obviously increasing their net profit quite a bit. That’s not something I normally promote at the height of the spring/summer market, but in this case I’m hoping it will help to drum up some addition inventory so we can push strong towards the end of 2012 and beyond. Call me or email if you’re interested in grabbing one of those slots in the program.
I’ve been at this for 26 years now (wow, that makes me feel old). I’ve seen markets go up and down many times. For now, I can say that it just feels great to be on the other side of this river, looking back at the tough times we’ve seen these last years, and happily bidding them farewell.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Steve Levine is President of Steve Levine Inc., and an agent for REMAX Prestige. He has been ranked as the #1 REMAX Agent in New England for 10 years, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508 735-HOME (4663).
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