Sales of detached single-family homes and condominiums in Massachusetts soared to record highs during the third quarter, according to data issued today by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

The unprecedented demand led to a 45th consecutive quarter of home-price gains and has the market on a pace that would make 2004 the best year ever for home sales in the Bay State, the association reported.

The MAR report shows that during the third quarter sales of detached single-family homes increased 6 percent over year-ago levels, from 14,725 units closed in the summer months of July-September 2003 to 15,603 in the same three-month period this year.

Meanwhile, condominium sales rose 29.1 percent in the summer quarter, from 4,814 units closed in the 2003 third quarter to 6,217 in the third quarter of 2004. It’s the fifth consecutive quarter that sales of existing single-family homes have risen over the comparable period one year earlier, while condo sales have improved for six consecutive quarters.

Across the state, sales of detached single-family homes rose in nearly all regions during the third quarter, with greater Boston (+14.5 percent), Worcester County (+10.1 percent), and the South Shore (+7.9 percent) reporting year-to-year sales increases greater than the statewide rate of growth for the quarter. Sales also rose 1 percent to 3 percent in western Massachusetts and the northeast region, but declined from year-ago levels in Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts. In the condo market, double-digit sales gains were observed throughout much of the state, but modest declines occurred in the Southeast and West regions.

“The housing market is strongest in eastern and central Massachusetts where the economy has started adding jobs, while in more rural and remote regions where job growth has been slower to occur sales activity has begun to moderate,” said MAR President Judy Moore, of RE/MAX Premier Properties in Lexington. Weak returns on Wall Street also have slowed the sale of high-end property and vacation homes, she said.

Still, sales remain historically high and on pace to make 2004 a record year for home sales in Massachusetts. In fact, through the first three quarters of the year sales of detached single-family homes are up 10 percent over year-ago levels and up 4 percent from 1998 when a record 50,401 existing single-family homes were sold in the Bay State. In addition, after nine months, condo sales are up more than 25 percent over 2003 levels when an all-time high of 15,738 units were sold.  

Data for this report reflects residential sales reported to Realtor-affiliated multiple listing services systems in Massachusetts, including the MLS Property Information Network Inc.; the Multiple Listing Service of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors; Cape Cod & Islands Multiple Listing Service Inc.; the North Bristol County Board of Realtors MLS; and Southeastern Mass. MLS.

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