Motivated by the looming expiration of a federal tax credit, Massachusetts buyers snapped up 5,726 single-family homes in June, the highest number of monthly sales in four years, according to new data released today.
Sales increased 28 percent in June compared with the same month last year, according to the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks real estate data. Year-to-date numbers also rose 28 percent, to 21,400, from the same time last year.
Condominiums were popular with buyers as well, with 2,511 sales in June, 31 percent more than during the same period last year, the Warren Group said. Condo sales from January to June rose to 9,735, a 30 percent jump from the same time last year.
Kevin Sears, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, attributed the increase in sales to the federal homebuyers tax credit, which required a binding contract on a home purchase to be in place by April 30 to qualify for up to $8,000 in savings. Buyers originally had until June 30 to close their deals but Congress recently extended the deadline to Sept. 30.
"The tax credit did its job and got the market moving again,'' said Sears, a broker and co-owner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield. "The activity over the next couple of months will answer whether the momentum was sustained."
Along with sales volume, median prices increased last month. The median price of a single-family home hit $325,000 in June, a 7 percent increase from June 2009 and the first time this year that median prices surpassed $300,000, the Warren Group said.
The median condo price remained at $282,000 in June, a 1.8 percent increase from a year earlier. Median prices for the year so far were up 5.7 percent to $259,000, compared with the first six months of 2009.
Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group, said June is typically a good month for the real estate business. "That factor paired with the tax credit made for a very strong month," he said.
Other real estate data released today also indicated Boston-area housing values may be stabilizing. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices, which measures repeat home sales, showed that Boston home values increased by 1.6 percent in May compared with the month before and 4.8 percent from a year ago. Nationwide, home values rose about 1.3 percent in May compared with April, according to the Case-Shiller data.
David M. Blitzer, chair of the Index Committee at Standard and Poor's, said economists will be watching what happens in the housing market over the next few months to see if the improved numbers can be sustained without the incentive of a lucrative tax break.
"It still looks possible that the housing market might bounce along the bottom for the foreseeable future, before showing any real improvement that will filter through to the rest of the economy,'' Blitzer said.
Jenifer B. McKim Boston Globe July 27, 2010