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Mass. Housing Market Springs Out Of Hibernation03:41Download

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Huge banks of snow hindered many potential homebuyers from getting to know neighborhoods and finding parking spaces around homes for sale. In this photo taken last month, icicles hang from homes buried in snow along Itasca Street in Mattapan. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Huge banks of snow hindered many potential homebuyers from getting to know neighborhoods and finding parking spaces around homes for sale. In this photo taken last month, icicles hang from homes buried in snow along Itasca Street in Mattapan. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

You know who’s stoked for spring? Realtors.

Record snowfall last month not only covered roofs and yards, it also froze something else: the preparations of people trying to get their homes ready for the spring housing market.

But home sales are quickly coming out of hibernation.

"It’s funny, a month ago people were walking around here with nothing to do, literally with their heads down," realtor Anthony Lamacchia said at his office in Waltham. "Every realtor I talked to, it was slow as could be."

Not anymore.

At a condo in Somerville, real estate agent Natasha Burger was giving other agents a look before she listed the property for sale. Everything was spotless and exquisitely arranged, except for the outdoor space.

"I’ll have photos of when it’s a patio and not just a pile of snow," Burger said, laughing.

The severe winter weather gave sellers headaches, Burger said, but it did not cool the pent-up interest of wannabe homebuyers.

"Folks just walk, or they take the T and walk, or they climb through the snowbanks," Burger said.

Take buyer Patti Foley. When a seller in Upton wasn’t ready to show the home because the snow wasn’t plowed, Foley just got her boyfriend to take care of it.

"He goes, 'We want to get in this house. We want to get in before the market really shoots up,' " Foley recounted. "And he went in, plowed, shoveled our way in so that we could finally get into the house."

And now she has that house under agreement.

It wasn’t just the sidewalk and driveways. Cambridge realtor Lara Gordon, with Coldwell Banker, says damage from ice dams put some home sellers behind schedule. Other owners were doing major repairs before listing, and she says their work crews couldn’t get dumpsters for the renovations.

Ice dams, like the ones pictured last month on this Mattapan home, caused damage that delayed some sellers from listing their homes for sale. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Ice dams, like the ones pictured last month on this Mattapan home, caused damage that delayed some sellers from listing their homes for sale. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"Because apparently the dumpster companies only make $200 or $300 to haul away building debris, whereas they were making about $1,200 to haul away snow," Gordon said. "So all the dumpsters in the city were allocated to snow removal."

Gordon says the number of homes for sale in Cambridge right now is down 50 percent from this time last year. But, she says, those homeowners who were ready to sell are being rewarded.

"I brought a condo on in the Central Square area last week. You know they were thinking they would originally list about April, but because there was nothing on the market I encouraged them to just get it on now while there’s no competition," Gordon said. "We had 16 offers. The majority of them were really, really very strong, and they’re doing very well with it. So I think they made the right choice."

At McGeough Lamacchia Realty in Waltham, Anthony Lamacchia agrees.

"Right now it’s an extremely strong seller’s market," he said. "If I was selling, I would go on now when there’s so little bit on."

But he thinks as more homeowners catch up and clear out the snow and get their places listed, supply will catch up somewhat to demand.

"I have had a few buyers where I have literally said to them: ‘Have some patience. Stop getting frustrated. More is going to come on. Give it some time.’"

Lamacchia says the record snowfall for Boston won’t hurt home sales for the year. He says the spring housing market will just shift later this year, and the majority of home closings will shift deeper into the summer.

This segment aired on March 18, 2015.

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Curt Nickisch Twitter Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.

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