Berkshire County’s first quarter sales in 2015 retracted over sales during the same time period during the previous 4 years. Reported sales in the 1st quarter of 2014 were $75.5 million dollars in 277 transactions; this year that fell to $47.6 million with 227 transactions. While the 37% decrease in sales volume is countywide, there were bright spots in the marketplace during the same time period. North County residential sales rebounded after struggling in the past year and the Central part of the Berkshires saw healthy activity gains in the Multifamily market. There were improvements throughout and our pending sales figures are very promising for the 2nd quarter. Please read/print the full report for property specific details, town sales data and regional one page summaries. 1stQuarterMarketWatch
SOME STRONG MARKETS:
- As with every market, there were highlights, with increasing sales volume in residential transactions for Adams and Williamstown in Northern Berkshire; increases in Dalton and Washington in Central Berkshire; and increases in Sheffield and West Stockbridge in Southern Berkshire.
- The total number of residential homes sold doubled in Williamstown; increased in Cheshire, Dalton, Hancock, and Pittsfield; and in Southern Berkshire, there were marginally more residential homes sold in New Marlboro, Sheffield and West Stockbridge compared to last so far.
- In Berkshire County, the inventory of homes for sale in the 1st quarter of 2015 were lower than we’ve had in the past 5 years. Given the swings in the market for the first part of the year, there is heavy expectation that as the snow fades, the market will continue its robust spring season. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS reported that the weather not only affected buyer activity in the first quarter statewide, but that sellers were also waiting out the cold and wet winter to list their property for sale. In speaking with REALTORS, there is no surprise that the market was down in the first quarter and a common confidence that the sales for the spring and summer will net out a healthy balance as new property comes on the market and pre-qualified buyers begin their search.
MORTGAGE LOAN RATES REMAIN UNDER 4%:
- According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased in March for the second consecutive month, rising to 3.77 percent from 3.71 percent.
PENDING SALES UP
- When looking at market predictors for Berkshire County, good news is our pending sales Jan-March surged ahead of previous years. We are going into the 2nd quarter with peak pending sales.
AFFORDABLE and GAINING VALUE:
- Our RPR estimated home values in March were $196,250 compared to the rest of Massachusetts at $335,430, making the Berkshires a very affordable place to live. In other good news, the change in median values rose in Berkshire County by 5% while statewide only rose 3.8%.
NATIONWIDE HEALTHY START TO SPRING:
- Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market appears to be off to an encouraging start this spring. “After a quiet start to the year, sales activity picked up greatly throughout the country in March,” he said. “The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years.”
IMPACT FROM THE GDP:
- The first quarter GDP growth rate was 0.2 percent. After a couple of awesome growth rates of near 5 percent in the middle of last year, the economy growth is slowing. The GDP growth forecast is for 2.7 percent in the second quarter, and then 3.0 percent for the remainder of the year (plus/minus few decimal points). For the year as a whole, GDP will likely have expanded by 2.3 percent. That will be enough to generate 2 million net new jobs for the economy.