Monthly Archives: December 2015

Rising home prices spread to cities far beyond Boston

The residential real estate recovery in Massachusetts has been so strong over the past year that home values have risen not just in the usual wealthy enclaves around Boston but also in smaller, lower-income cities across the Commonwealth.

The median sales price of a single-family home was $340,000 for the first 11 months of 2015, up 2.3 percent statewide from last year, according to the Warren Group, a real estate tracking firm in Boston. But many areas saw more robust growth, particularly cities such as Lynn, New Bedford, and Fall River that haven’t always benefited from the region’s economic booms.
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Home buyers have crowded into the market across the Commonwealth at a record rate in the second half of this year, the Warren Group said, in part because of a backlog created by last winter’s huge snowfall. Year to date, single-family home sales have increased 10 percent statewide, with 49,604 houses changing hands.

Meanwhile, prices continued to surge in many of the most expensive and populous communities. The median sales price in Cambridge rose 6.3 percent over the first 11 months of 2015, to nearly $1.3 million, and by almost 10 percent in Brookline, to $1.6 million.

In the metro area, sales have accelerated most this year at the edge of the city, in West Roxbury, for example, and in Boston neighbors Winthrop and Revere. Higher prices in and around the city have pushed buyers to less-costly areas.
“That’s where the affordability is in Massachusetts,’’ said Cassidy Murphy, editorial director of the Warren Group. “Prices just keep going up, and we don’t have a lot of housing stock.’’

A stronger economy and people looking for houses they can afford outside of Boston have been boons for smaller cities. Median sales prices have risen about 9 percent this year in Lawrence and Brockton, and more than 6 percent in Framingham.

November was the sixth straight month of double-digit increases in single-family sales.
Taunton saw 42 home sales during November, more than double the transactions recorded a year earlier. The median sale price jumped 8.7 percent, to $250,000.

“We’ve been seeing a lot more buyer demand than sellers,’’ said Nelson Matos, a real estate agent who owns Re/Max Welcome Home in Taunton. “We really got hit hard in the recession, and the comeback is strong.’’

Prices haven’t yet returned to the peak before the 2007 mortgage crisis, Matos said. But he said he is seeing existing owners upgrading to larger houses and newcomers exploring Taunton.
“The affordability is there,’’ he said.

The state bucked the national trend for November, during which existing-home sales across the US dropped to their lowest level in 19 months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total US home sales fell 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 4.8 million, the group said, blaming factors that are also familiar in the Massachusetts market: “sparse inventory and affordability issues.’’

Some upscale locales such as Weston and Marblehead actually saw sales decrease and median prices decline.

Statewide, the condominium market in Massachusetts also has seen vigorous growth. There were 1,583 condo sales in November, a 16.5 percent increase from last November, the Warren Group said.
Year to date, there have been 20,152 condo sales, up 6 percent from the first 11 months in 2014. The median condo price in 2015 has been $317,147, a 2.3 percent increase from the 2014 median price through November.

The upward march in prices, while good for sellers, is hard on many people who want to buy, the Warren Group’s Murphy said.
“It’s difficult to be a home buyer in Massachusetts,’’ she said, “unless you have rich relatives or no student debt.’’

Buying or Selling a Home This Winter? Keep These Tax Tips in Mind!

With all of the expense that can go into buying and selling a home, it’s good to be aware of what you can claim and how a home can benefit you come tax time. When the New Year rolls around and you’re sitting down to the task of completing your taxes, here are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Gaining from Capital Gains

In the event that you’ve made money off the sale of your home through a capital gain, it’s possible that you may be able to exclude this amount from your tax filing. If you’ve lived in the home you just sold for at least two of the five years before the sale date, not having to report this amount on your taxes may come as a financial win.

Reporting Your Gain tax

If you have not lived in your home for two of the five years, you will have to report the sale of your home and the capital gain when you file your taxes. This is necessary whether or not you decide to claim the amount. If this happens to be the case for you, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on ‘Net Investment Income Tax’ before filing your return so you can ensure your claim’s accuracy.

A Two-Year Claim For Capital Gain

While there is definitely a great financial benefit in not having to report your gain in all situations, it’s important to be aware that you can only exclude any gain you’ve received from a home sale every 2 years. So, if it happens to be the case that you’ve moved more than once in the last few years, you will have to report any amount that you’ve made from these home sales.

Selling Your Home At A Loss

The boon of a capital gain is certainly ideal if you’ve made some money on your home, but if you’ve sold your home for less than you paid, you won’t be able to claim this. While the end result may be a bit disheartening, this amount cannot be deducted off of your tax return.

Beyond the benefits of buying or selling your home, there are ways that your tax filing can be more pleasant next year if you know some of these tips. If you have any further mortgage related financial questions, please contact Attorney Scott J. Fitzgerald at 781-924-5326.