June home sales rise, prices show signs of stabilizing

Granite State home prices have almost stabilized, and sales are about 20 percent higher than last year, according to the midyear report on housing from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. Another report from the RE/MAX real estate firm pretty much backs it up.

Some 18 percent more New Hampshire homes sold in June 2012 than last year, bringing the year-to-date increase in sales to 20.3 percent, according to the Realtors report. Every county experienced double-digit sales growth during the first half of the year, with Cheshire County leading the way with a 43 percent increase. (Sales more than doubled in June in Cheshire, where 78 homes were sold, as opposed to 35 in June 2011)."I think any fair-minded person would consider this a trend," said NHAR President John Rice, a 40-year veteran of the real estate industry and an agent with Tate & Foss Sotheby's International Realty in Rye.

RE/MAX reports sales of New Hampshire units, which include condos, rose 16.4 percent in June compared to a year earlier – above the 13 percent average in all of New England, but behind Massachusetts, which saw an 18.4 percent sales hike.

According to RE/MAX, pending sales in New Hampshire rose 32 percent in June and 28 percent in all of New England. (In its national real estate report, RE/MAX pointed out the 27.2 percent jump in closed transactions reported in the Manchester area as indication that New England was leading the way in recovery from the housing slump.)

Prices, however, continue to decline, but not at the same rate. Statewide they fell 3 percent in June to a median price of $215,000, according to the Realtors. For the first half of the year, the median price was $198,000, a 3.4 percent decline. But in some counties, the median price rose, namely Carroll (31 percent for the month and 5 percent for the half), Cheshire (11 percent for the year and 4.2 percent for the half) and Sullivan (15 percent for the year and 2 percent for the half.)Prices in Rockingham County remained stable, only declining a half percent in June and 2 percent year to date.

Condo prices statewide rose 7.4 percent in June, to $165,350, though year to date they have been stuck on just under $150,000, the same as last year, according to the Realtors.

The increase in the number of condos sold increased by 13 percent for the month and the year.

The RE/MAX report pegs the New Hampshire median unit price at $201,000 in June, a 3.8 percent decrease.

Homes are selling quicker as well. According to RE/MAX, it takes on average of 116 days to sell a home in New Hampshire, down from 123 days a year ago, even though inventory has increased from 12,463 to 15,022. The Realtors estimate that there were about 9.4 months of supply on the market in June, slightly higher than May (9 percent) though a far cry from the 22 months of supply when the housing bubble burst.

"We are continuing to see more and more examples of multiple offers on properties," Rice said. "Sellers are beginning to regain some of the leverage that buyers have enjoyed for the last five or six years."

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