In Coastal New England, Home Sales Rebound as Prices Slide

Three populous New England coastal states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut — saw home sales stabilize or rebound in 2009, according to a report by Boston-based real estate information clearinghouse The Warren Group. The Warren Group collects sales data routinely from Massachusetts registries of deeds and from Connecticut and Rhode Island town halls, according to spokesperson Aglaia Pikounis. The data show a slip of 1.9% in home sales in Connecticut for 2009, the group reports, but that trend reversed late in the year, as December home and condo sales spiked. "A total of 24,401 single-family homes were sold in 2009 [in Connecticut], down from 24,863 in 2008," the group reports. "The total was boosted by a strong December, with single-family home sales rising 34.8% to 2,216 from 1,644 in December 2008. It was the strongest sales pace for the month of December since 2006." Condo sales rose 29% in December 2009 compared to December 2008, the third monthly increase in a row. In Massachusetts, sales were up 3% for all of 2009. Here also, however, December sales posted a strong surge: Home sales bounced up 16.8% from the previous December, while condo sales surged 28.9% from the year-ago level. Rhode Island showed the strongest annual sales increase of the three states, posting a 12% gain on the year. The December bounce was also strongest in Rhode Island, as home sales jumped 30% from December 2008, and condo sales soared 65.6%. Median home prices were down for the year in all three states, falling 13.8% in Rhode Island, 6.6% in Massachusetts, and 10.1% in Connecticut. Here again, however, the end of the year revealed signs of a rebound. In Connecticut, says the Warren Group, "December’s median home price rose 3.6% to $238,250 from $230,000 in December 2008. It was the first increase in monthly median home prices year-over-year since November 2007." The story was similar in Massachusetts: "In December, the median home price actually rose 10.4% to $295,000 from $267,250 in December 2008. It was the first increase in monthly median home prices year-over-year since September 2007." And in Rhode Island, likewise, prices began to creep back from their recent record lows: "December’s median home price managed to climb 3.8% to $197,200 from $190,000 during the same period in 2008. It was the second consecutive month that monthly median home prices increased year-over-year."