Posturing for Progress

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local edition ANALYTICS spike in home prices drove Massachusetts sales down for the third straight month in April, according to the Warren Group. New features include rate charts and expanded lender profiles. WASHINGTON // In Seattle, The group reported 3,504 single-family home sales in the Bay State in April, a 1 percent decline from last year. However, April's sales volume was still the highest recorded so far this year. Year-to-date, sales were down about 2.7 percent as of the end of April. "There is high demand and low inventory this spring, which is causing this pattern of rising prices and dropping sales volume," said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group. "Despite the news that sales volume is down, low mortgage rates and steady home values are helping buoy consumer confidence." The median price for singlefamily homes sold in April was $313,000, a 14 percent year-overyear spike. April marked the seventh consecutive month in which the median sale price increased statewide, and it was the first time since 2008 that the median price crossed the $300,000 mark. It was also the third straight month to see double-digit improvements. The median selling price for the first four months of 2013 was $294,000, an 11 percent increase over the same period last year. "The housing market continues to improve but could be hindered if rising prices cause an affordability issue. Three consecutive months of doubledigit price increases is slightly concerning," Warren said. While home sales dropped, condominium sales increased across Massachusetts, rising 8 percent to 1,492. All told, 4,546 condo sale transactions were recorded in the first four months of the year, a 2.4 percent increase from 2012. Meanwhile, the median condo sale price rose 1 percent to $280,000. The year-to-date Zillow unveiled a new look, tools, and features on its Mortgage Marketplace app for iPhone and iPad. Zillow Mortgage Marketplace is now the first and only mobile app to provide mortgage holders with details, information, and loan quotes for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Streamline Refinance program. Those loans were formerly only available on the Mortgage Marketplace desktop app or by contacting an individual lender. "More than one-quarter of homeowners with a mortgage are in negative equity, so easy access to programs that can help them refinance is essential," said Erin Lantz, director of Zillow Mortgage Marketplace. "We often hear stories of underwater homeowners who get discouraged because one lender told them no or because they couldn't afford the fees associated with a particular refinance quote." She added: "The beauty of the mobile marketplace environment for homeowners is that they have access to hundreds of competing lenders, right in the palm of their hand, who may be able to help within seconds." Additional new features include a new landing page and home screen, a new quote detail page, new rate charts, expanded lender profiles, and redesigned calculators that now include interactive charts and graphs. The free app is available on iTunes. The M Report | 55 se c on da r y m a r k e t MASSASSCHUSETTS // Another Zillow Upgrades Mortgage Marketplace Mobile App a na ly t ic s A spike in prices drove down home sales, the Warren Group says. median condo price was up 1.6 percent to $260,000 at the end of April. s e r v ic i ng Bay State Sales Suffer in April Or ig i nat ion performance for that month since 2007. The statewide median price was $145,900, up 7.7 percent from $135,500 in April 2012. "The spring numbers are very encouraging, especially as we see substantial tightening of the numbers of homes on the market," said Michael D. Oldenettel, CRS, GRI, IAR president and managing broker/owner with RE/MAX Results Plus. "While prices are inching up slightly due to strong demand, the interest rates continue to be a powerful lure for those who want to own a home, and the spring housing market looks to be a strong one." Out of the 102 counties reporting to IAR, 55 showed year-overyear home sales gains, while 42 showed yearly median price improvements. Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale in April was 62,503 units, a 30.6 percent drop compared to last year. The time it takes to sell a home has also fallen, with days on market averaging 89, down from 111 last April. "The housing market is exhibiting signs of a more stable recovery with an anticipated strong early summer led by strong sales gains and more modest but still positive gains in median prices," noted Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois. "Average time on the market, the growth in the pending sales index, and an increase in the share of total sales captured by more expensive properties point to a return to greater stability in the market."

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