The spring was not all bad for the real-estate business
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The spring was not all bad for the real-estate business

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Real-estate agents had high hopes for this spring, typically their busiest season. There was a large inventory of homes on the market, prices had dropped and money was plentiful for borrowing.

If they expected a bonanza of buying during the second quarter of the year, however, they were wrong.

Sales of single-family homes dropped again in the second quarter of the year, falling by 6.3 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a report to be released today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

The number of homes sold in April, May and June declined to 2,280 from 2,433 a year ago. The median price of homes sold in Rhode Island also declined, down 1.8 percent.

In the first three months of the year, sales of single-family houses fell 3 percent, according to The Warren Group.

Real estate agents had to work harder to sell houses in the second quarter of the year than they did during the same period in 2006.

The time the houses spent on the market jumped to 87 days from 76 days, a 14.5-percent increase.

But the spring was not all bad for the real-estate business.

Thirteen Rhode Island communities saw housing prices increase, some significantly.

In Jamestown, for example, the median price of houses sold in the second quarter jumped 12.4 percent, to $739,000 from $657,500. In Hopkinton, it rose 32.8 percent, to $351,950 from $265,000.

In Providence, 131 homes were sold in April, May and June, 12.1 percent fewer than last year. The median price was down 3.8 percent, and the houses spent on average 14 more days on the market than last year, an 18.9-percent increase.

In Cranston, home sales were down 17.2 percent, prices dropped 3.1 percent and it took 13 more days on average to sell a house, a 23.2-percent increase.

In Warwick, the 283 houses sold spent on average two additional days on the market, a 3.2-percent increase. Prices were down 8 percent, and over all sales dipped 3.7 percent.

The East Side of Providence was immune to the slumping prices, with the median price rising 10.3 percent. But even that neighborhood proved taxing to Realtors. On average, houses required 67 days to sell, an 8.1-percent increase.

In Barrington, prices remained flat, but the time needed to hook a buyer rose by 23.8 percent.

For months, home sellers in Rhode Island have sought a silver lining, arguing that depressed prices, low interest rates and accessible mortgages would prompt a turnaround.

That now seems less likely, at least in the next quarter of the year.

By Benjamin N. Gedan –  The Providence Journal

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