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May 2011 Archives

Are Boston Home Sales Still Dropping?

Boston home sales on the rise?

Not so fast. The Boston Globe reports that home sales declined 28 percent in Massachusetts this April, with median prices lower than they were in April of last year. Last year, we reported on this very blog that the median Boston home prices were on the rise, with the average single family home price in Boston at $275,000.

This year, however, we're down by $1,000, at a median sales price of $274,000. Could this be another real estate slump? After all, reports The Boston Globe, this was the fifth straight month of year-over-year price declines in Massachusetts real estate prices. Compare this to last year, where The Boston Globe reported five straight months of real-estate gains.

Ze-gen, a cutting-edge energy company, stopped its plans to build a new energy plant in Attleboro after meeting opposition from a local environmental group. Ze-gen had planned to spend millions of dollars on the new plant, which would have created full-time and construction jobs in the community reports The Sun Chronicle. But to one Attleboro environmental group, the potential environmental impact outweighed any economic benefits.

According to the Sun Chronicle, Ze-gen is a Boston-based firm that pioneered a waste-to-energy process called gasification. Ze-gen sought to build a gasification plant in Attleboro that would have melted waste products like railroad ties, wooden utility poles, and plastics in a 2,200 degree bath of molten copper to produce a new gas-based source of energy. Ironically, Ze-gen's gasification process touts its own positive environmental impact as gasification would have saved these materials from entering a landfill.

Existing Home Sales Drop While New Home Sales Increase

The U.S. housing market continues to remain weak as recent home sale reports revealed fewer people bought previously occupied homes this past April. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales have fallen 0.8 percent and reached an adjusted annual rate of only 5.05 million units sold.

That's significantly less than the amount of homes economists would suggest that reflects a strong market, which is about 6 million homes sold a year. However, the Boston Herald reported there has been more activity among first-time homebuyers as new home purchases accounted for 36 percent of sales.

Mortgage Master Pays $250G To Settle Mortgage Discrimination Case

Mortgage Master Inc., Massachusetts' largest locally owned mortgage company based in Walpole, has reportedly dealt with two legal conflicts with state officials over the last year. In the company's latest case, it agreed to pay $250,000 in a settlement claim alleging that it discriminated against nearly 200 black consumers and charged them up to $1,000 more than its Latino or white borrowers.

The Boston Herald reported that Mortgage Master agreed to offer $95,000 in order to refund $250 to $1,000 to each borrower that supposedly had to pay the higher mortgage fees. The firm will also be paying Attorney General Martha Coakley's office $155,000 as part of the mortgage discrimination settlement, which Coakley plans on making available to local housing groups in the state, including Boston.

Demand For Renting In Boston Expected To Increase In 2011

Fewer constructions of new rental buildings have allowed the rental market in Boston to stay resilient and continue to be driven by a larger demand for apartment units, reports the Boston Herald.

A report issued by the Marcus & Millichap’s National Multi Housing Group during the first quarter revealed that the 2011 Boston outlook for renting has drawn more attention from developers and investors due to a now growing economy. Boston employers may start expanding “payrolls by 2 percent this year by adding 49,000 jobs, the largest annual increase in more than a decade.”

The report also projected apartment vacancies may decrease 4.2 percent as rental prices jump to an all-time high, rising 3.5 percent and averaging to $1,772 a month.

Should Boston Homeowners Test Their Homes For Lead Paint?

When buying a home, many homebuyers in Boston may not realize that they are entitled to know if the property they are looking into presents any exposure to lead-based paint. But The Boston Globe writes that a majority of sellers may have no knowledge as to whether their home contains or does not contain lead paint.

According to FindLaw, lead was used in paint and pipes in homes until fairly recently. Lead can accumulate in your bones, blood, or soft tissue if you breathe it in or consume lead-contaminated water. High concentrations of lead may cause permanent brain damage, especially in unborn babies, because they are more sensitive to the metal.

Tips To Help Boston Homeowners Selling A Home

With home sales and prices continuing to drop across Massachusetts and the rest of the country, many Boston homeowners may find themselves struggling to sell their home. The National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales fell 9.6 percent in February compared to the previous month.

CNN Money writes that it could take at least 8.6 months clear out and sell the 3.5 million existing homes on the market today given the pace of current home sales. Many who are forced to sell their home may have it on the market for about six months to a year without attracting any potential buyers.

FHA And Fannie Mae Help Pay For Energy-Saving Home Improvements

Looking for a way to finally pay for energy improvements on your home? According to the Boston Herald, two new mortgage programs recently launched by the Federal Housing Administration and mortgage lender Fannie Mae could help Boston homeowners pay for useful and energy-saving in-home additions.

The FHA's new home energy saving program known as "PowerSaver," for instance, lets eligible homeowners borrow up to $25,000 with fixed rates ranging from 5 to 7 percent for as long as 20 years. PowerSaver loans can help pay for high-efficiency retrofits such as doors and windows, solar, panels, heating and ventilating systems, insulations, and duct sealing.

Study Shows Home Mortgages Are Less Available For Minorities

A study conducted by "Paying More for the American Dream V" revealed that after the recent housing crash, funds for refinancing home mortgages in the United States were more available in metropolitan cities with a predominantly white population than those with more minorities.

According to Reuters, the study found that traditional mortgage refinancing in minority communities dropped to an average of 17 percent in 2009 compared to 2008 in the following major cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Cleveland, New York City, and Rochester, New York. Meanwhile, mortgage refinancing loans had an average increase of 129 percent in areas that were mostly white.