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Buyers are hungry, but homeowners holding on the boston globe archives

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1. Buyers are hungry, but homeowners holding onLack of houses for sale could stunt mark ets recoveryBoston Globe - Boston, Mass.Author: Jenifer B McKimDate: Mar 2,…
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  • 1. Buyers are hungry, but homeowners holding onLack of houses for sale could stunt mark ets recoveryBoston Globe - Boston, Mass.Author: Jenifer B McKimDate: Mar 2, 2013Start Page: A.1Section: BusinessText Word Count: 1259Document TextJohn and Melissa Smith are eager to sell their three- bedroom home in Waltham and buy something larger now thatthey have two children. But the starter home the Smiths purchased seven years ago -- near the markets peak -- wontcommand a high enough price to make a move feasible.Ashley Krause and her partner, Kerri Scott, are interested in moving from Krauses family condo in Roslindale to asingle-family home, but so far they havent found anything enticing enough to justify jumping into the real estate fray.Those are just two examples of why so many people in the regions real estate industry -- and especially potentialhome buyers -- are asking the same question: Where are all the home sellers?The number of homes for sale in Massachusetts is at an eight-year low, despite an increasing number ofprospective buyers and a housing market that -- overall -- is on the mend. Some owners cant afford to sell becausethey owe more than their properties are worth, while others arent yet convinced its the right time. The result is thedemand for homes far outstrips the meager supply, an equation that threatens to hold back growth in a businesscrucial to the states economy."There is nothing on the market for me to want to buy to move into," said Krause, a 31-year-old pharmacist who rentsfrom her sister. "Im afraid to put her condo up for sale and end up on the street."The situation differs dramatically from a few years ago, when the local housing market slowed to a glacial pacefollowing the national subprime mortgage meltdown and tumbling home values. Then, real estate agents werepractically begging for people to go house-hunting. Now, potential buyers are out in droves -- motivated by lowinterest rates and renewed confidence in the economy -- and its homeowners who are on the sidelines.In Massachusetts, the number of single-family homes for sale fell to 18,329 at the end of January, 27.3 percent fewerthan during that month last year and the steepest year-over-year fall in almost a decade, the MassachusettsAssociation of Realtors reported this week.The tight market has prompted robust competition in some of the Boston-areas more popular neighborhoods,prompting bidding wars and price inflation, real estate agents say. Statewide, homes are selling more quickly than ayear ago. Single-family homes remained on the market for an average 114 days in January compared with 128 daysin January 2012, the realtors group said."More buyers are competing for fewer homes and we are shifting to a stronger sellers market," said SamSchneiderman, president of the Massachusetts Association of Buyers Agents.Concerned the lack of properties for sale could hurt the all-important spring selling season, real estate agents arecold-calling potential sellers, penning handwritten notes, and launching seminars to attract new business. Theiruniversal message -- demand is high, supply is low; its time to list. "Everybody in the world is trying to reach sellers,"said Alex Coon, a Boston-area manager of the online brokerage firm Redfin.com. "Home-buying classes arebrimming over. Anywhere we can find a seller, we are trying to reach them."Its not just that sellers are sparse -- its that buyers are quickly snatching up attractive homes almost as soon as theyare put up for sale. Last year, the Massachusetts housing market began to build momentum. Statewide, 46,887single-family homes were sold, the most since 2006, according to Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks localreal estate. The buzz of activity carried over into January, with sales 10 percent higher than the same month in 2012,Warren Group said.But some worry that if sellers dont soon start showing up in greater numbers, the upward sales trajectory will falter.
  • 2. "If we dont have the inventory to sell, we wont be able to continue" improving, said Kimberly Allard-Moccia, thepresident of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and broker-owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree.Currently, there is a 4.7-month supply of single-family homes for sale, according to the Massachusetts Association ofRealtors. A balanced market has about 6 months worth of supply according to the Washington, D.C.-based, NationalAssociation of Realtors. Anything less tips the market in favor of sellers.Eric Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said the relative lack ofhomes for sale suggests many interested home buyers are coming from outside the area, or are local first-timehome buyers or investors. Otherwise, he said, buyers would be selling their existing properties -- leaving localinventory relatively unaffected. Thin inventory puts upward pressure on prices, Belsky said, but its still unclearwhether the increases are enough to get more people into the market. "Its an open question," he said.John Ranco, a senior sales associate for Hammond Residential Real Estate in Bostons South End, said manyhomeowners who couldnt sell their properties during the recession turned to renting, which currently can be alucrative source of income in the city. In addition, he said, more Boston residents also have decided to stay in theircurrent homes, lessening the opportunities for newcomers.Also, thousands of homeowners are still plagued by a recession hangover. Despite the recent upturn, Boston-areahome values are down nearly 16 percent since their peak in 2005. So many homeowners owe more to lenders thantheir properties could fetch for sale.Other potential sellers are simply doing what some do every year -- waiting for the snow to clear. "No one likesmuddy boots tramping through their houses," Ranco said.Meanwhile, real estate agents are becoming more aggressive about targeting sellers.Steve Mehigan, manager of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Waltham, said his agents arereaching out to homeowners who unsuccessfully tried to sell their properties with other real estate offices.Sometimes his agents will show up at a homeowners door to let them know multiple buyers are interested in theirproperty."Our buyer appetite is absolutely voracious," Mehigan said.Brian Montgomery, a buyers agent with Charlesgate Realty Group in Boston, was so frustrated by his inability to findsuitable homes for his clients that he recently published a blog post titled: "Desperately seeking sellers." It includeda wish list of nearly two dozen Boston-area homes his clients would like to buy.Montgomery listed properties in Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge. "Were hoping that by publishing this list, anowner may wake up from their amnesia," he wrote, "and realize they actually want to sell their property!"For Emily Glass, 33, of Arlington, its not amnesia that is keeping her in her Arlington condominium. She just doesntsee any place better. "There is really nothing available," Glass said.Krause, the Roslindale condo dweller, said properties shes toured over the last few months are either too small orlack a yard. But she also gets the irony of her situation -- while she searches for the perfect home, her familys condoremains off the market and out of play for some other prospective buyer."Right now, I need some people like me to let their places go," she said.Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jbmckim.Credit: By Jenifer B. McKim Globe Staff[Illustration]Caption: Emily Glass and her husband, Venkat Korvi, would like to sell their condo and move into a bigger house."There is really nothing available," said Emily Glass, 33, of Arlington, looking for a home with husband Venkat Korvi.Michele McDonald for the Boston GlobeMichele McDonald for the Boston GlobeReproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.Abstract (Document Summary)Concerned the lack of properties for sale could hurt the all-important spring selling season, real estate agents are
  • 3. cold-calling potential sellers, penning handwritten notes, and launching seminars to attract new business. EricBelsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, said the relative lack ofhomes for sale suggests many interested home buyers are coming from outside the area, or are local first-timehome buyers or investors.Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
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