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Home sales in Massachusetts reach 10-year high

Echoing how home sales fared at the national level in July, Massachusetts-area for-sale properties were hot commodities last month, as mortgage borrowers helped produce the Bay State's best month in a decade for residential purchase activity.

Nearly 7,100 single-family homes were bought in July, according to the latest data from The Warren Group. The last time monthly home sales eclipsed 7,000 was in June 2005, making July's total a 10-year high.

Cassidy Murphy, Warren Group editorial director, noted that July's figures stem from the positive momentum from spring continuing on into the heart of summer.

"A rough winter and pent-up demand turned into a strong spring that is a positive sign for the real estate market throughout the state," said Murphy.

Due in part to affordable mortgage rates, rising home prices didn't detract from Bay State consumers' appetite for homeownership. The median sales price for single-family homes in July was $359,900, up 1.3 percent from $355,000 last year during the same month in Massachusetts. For all housing types, the median existing-home price nationally in July was $234,000, up 5.6 percent from 12 months ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, indicated that if inventory doesn't pick up, helping to offset rising prices, demand could weaken in the months ahead.

In the meantime, new-home sales demand across the country is robust. Purchases for newly constructed single-family properties rose nearly 5.5 percent in July, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. That's the largest gain this year, totaling 507,000 units on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.  

"Our builders are reporting higher traffic and more serious buyers, and are adding inventory in anticipation of future business," said Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

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