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Revived Home Sales In Jamaica Plain Could Be Bellwether For Mass.03:03
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Crowded open houses. Multiple offers. Selling above the asking price. It may sound like 2004, but we’re talking 2012. Home sales in Jamaica Plain are coming back to life, and it could be a bellwether for the housing market in the rest of the state.

In the span of 15 minutes, eight groups of people have walked into this open house in Jamaica Plain on Sunday.

Randal Engelmann is the Realtor selling this townhouse. Two stories, three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths. The listing price is $419,000. He said that over past few years, home sales fizzled here in May.

Not this spring.

"Multiple offers on many, many properties," Englemann said. "I sold the unit two doors down from here — and we had 11 offers on that. That went for about 5 percent over the asking price, so good for the seller!"

Not so good for buyers such as Sheryl Howard. She and her partner started looking for a place a few months ago. She said it’s been a learning experience.

"Because we’re first-time buyers, and we both like to mull over big purchases, we didn’t really understand how quickly you had to ask and put in an offer," Howard said. "So that’s made it a little stressful."

It may be stressful, but Engelmann said it’s great to see people confident about buying again.

"We’re certainly seeing prices starting to go up," Engelmann said. "But they’re not spiking really fast. What we’re seeing is that inventory is being absorbed really quickly."

Places that are overpriced, the Realtor says, are still sitting.

Andrea Mercurio is checking out another open house in JP — a condo. But she already owns a place, so she’s not in a hurry to buy.

"Square footage and everything else looks to be something I could take advantage of," Mercurio said. "But I think I want to look around, I’m not ready to move on it."

The good news for her — a recovering housing market will make it easier for her to sell, so that she can move. Mercurio gets back into her mini Cooper to head to the next listing.

Next up in the housing recovery might be other neighborhoods. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors said statewide, pending home sales were up one-third last month compared to the year before.

Engelmann hopes the buyer confidence and activity in Jamaica Plain will spread.

"It always does," Engelmann said. "Once people lose several times on multiple-offer bids on property over and over and over again, they’re like, 'OK, well, I’ll go to a different community, so...' "

So that bodes well for Roslindale, Dorchester, Hyde Park. By the way, that house Engelmann was showing on Sunday? He and the seller started taking bids on Monday. Within two hours, the seller accepted the highest of four offers – all above asking price.

This program aired on May 10, 2012.

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

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