IN ESSEX COUNTY MASSACHUSETTS
December 2008 total home sales in Essex County increased by 4.9% over December 2007, led by the sale of multi-family homes which went up by 172%! The sale of bank owned properties drove down the price of multi unit buildings by 33% to an average of $184,800 driving investors and savvy, bargain-hunting home buyers to the closing table. The glut of foreclosed homes has pushed down prices, and distress sales now make up well over half the market in some towns such as Lynn and Lawrence. Other towns, including Newburyport, Marblehead, Danvers & Hamilton, have had relatively few foreclosures and therefore homes prices haven't dropped as sharply.
Single family sales were relatively flat over the same period, despite a 17% drop in prices over 2007. But that is actually good news for sellers of single family homes, which for the most part in 2008 experienced declining sales numbers. But toward the end of the year sales have been coming back. Could the lure of a $7500 first time homebuyer tax credit be tied to this rise?
The home buyers that we have talked to have not indicated that the tax credit was the driving force that made them step up to the home buying plate. What was the driving force was the lure of getting a bargain-priced home at the bottom, or near bottom, of the real esate market. The second motivating factor was the availability of mortgage money at rates below 6.0%.