NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 3, 2013

Newburyport sees sharp increase in home sale prices

Sharp uptick in price of single-family homes

Staff reports
Newburyport Daily News

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The latest statistics on real estate sales show Newburyport is the hottest market in the area, and getting hotter by the month.

The Warren Report, a Boston firm that tracks real estate sales, released its breakdown of year-to-date sales through July, and found that the price of single-family homes sold in Newburyport during that period is $490,000 — a 34 percent increase from the same period a year ago. The number of homes sold was 109, almost the same as the same period a year before.

The upward trend of home prices is escalating. There are currently 28 homes in the city that are under agreement and expected to close in the coming weeks. The median price of those sales is $609,900.

Over the past few years, real estate prices plummeted across the nation in the wake of the 2007 housing bubble burst. Newburyport dipped too, but not nearly as much as the state average. Prices have steadily recovered, then started a notable upward trend in the latter half of last year.

“The logjam began to break last year,” said Jerry Lischke of Stone Ridge Properties, who has worked in the local real estate field for 35 years. “The market here in Newburyport is changing. It’s pretty dramatic.”

Lischke said he’s seen a steady influx of retirement-age buyers who are downsizing and are drawn by the downtown, the pedestrian-friendly nature of Newburyport, the parks, restaurants and other attractions. Many also have family connections to the area.

“That trend has continued over time,” he said.

Amesbury too is seeing an upswing. From January to July, the number of homes sold increased by 44 percent compared to the prior year period. Home prices in Amesbury have been ratcheting upward, reaching $297,500 so far this year. That’s a 22 percent increase from the same period last year. But the upward spike in prices seems to be leveling off for now in Amesbury. There are 19 homes under agreement, and the median price is $299,900.

“Newburyport is the blue chip, but not everyone can afford the blue chip,” said Lischke. “Amesbury is more affordable than Newburyport.”

Across the state, the real estate market has seen a resurgence. Prices are rising due in part to low interest rates and the relatively small number of homes for sale. It’s caused some bidding wars, but more often than that it has resulted in buyers getting the price they are asking for. That’s a change from the market that had been lingering for years since the 2007 real estate bubble burst.

Statewide, July was the best month for home sales since June 2006. It’s a notable turnaround, the Warren Report stated.

“Many recent real estate reports have signaled a strong real estate recovery, and our numbers speak to that rebound,” said David Harris, editorial director of The Warren Group. Statewide, the median sales price for a home rose to $349,000 in July.

But Harris also cautioned that mortgage rates, which hit a low in January and have been steadily increasing, may be a big factor in a home sales slowdown.

“While consumer confidence and strong employment numbers continue to bolster the market, there’s concern that higher mortgage rates and increasing home prices could dampen the revitalized market.”