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Mass. Single-Family Home Sales Drop Again

The median price of single-family homes in Massachusetts continues to rise, even though the number of sales is falling. Both the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and the Warren Group are reporting double-digit drops in November sales compared to last year.

The realtors association reported Wednesday that the median price of single-family homes jumped 5.2 percent in November, when compared to the same month last year, to $299,900. This marks the 13th consecutive month of year-over-year increases.

The president of the association, Kevin Sears, said that lower interest rates have resulted in consumers having more to spend on homes.

"Interest rates are still very low, and what that means is that the consumer can afford more of a house," Sears said. "What we've actually seen is some of the higher-end homes selling, which is encouraging."

The Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks the housing market, reported that the median price of a single-family home rose 7.3 percent in November to $294,000, compared with the same time last year. The organizations use slightly different figures in their calculations.

Warren Group Publisher Vincent Valvo said that the rise in the median price of single-family homes does not mean home values are going up.

"Last year, people were buying first-time homes. We were pushing that first-time home buyer tax credit. So people were buying lower-priced homes to take advantage of the first-time home buyer tax credit," Valvo said.

Valvo said after the tax credit expired this year, he expects sales will show declines until the summer.

"What we're now going to be doing is comparing months where people are out shopping for houses, against the same months when they were shopping for houses and were given an $8,000 incentive to go buy," Valvo said.

The Warren Group reported sales in November dropping nearly 30 percent, the 5th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The Realtors reported a 31.5 percent drop.

This program aired on December 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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