Friday, April 07, 2006

Homes Were Flying Off the Housing Market

Tempted by the boom, a record number of college graduates, retirees, housewives, and laid-off executives jumped into the real estate game last year, before sales started to slip. State records show that 9,547 people obtained licenses to sell real estate in Massachusetts in 2005, up 6 percent over the previous year. Today, there are more agents in Massachusetts than at any time in the past seven years

''I think a lot of people saw real estate as an opportunity to use their business skills and make a lot of money, but things today aren't what they were a year ago," said veteran broker Ruth Pino. ''Back then, buyers didn't quibble about price or inspection issues because there were 10 other buyers lined up behind them to purchase the property.

''Today, there's one buyer for every five or 10 houses, so the job has become a little more stressful," said Pino, office manager of Carlson GMAC Real Estate in Gloucester.

A glut of unsold properties in Boston's suburbs is adding to the intense pressures facing new agents. The number of single-family houses for sale in communities around Boston surged 58 percent, to 4,286 yesterday, compared with a year earlier, according to the MLS Property Information Network of Shrewsbury. The figures include the suburbs within the Interstate 495 corridor.

Buyers now have the upper hand, and they know it, said Kelly Martinson, who runs Kelly Realty Associates in Salisbury and is a director of the Greater Newburyport Board of Realtors.

Many buyers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see whether prices will fall as the busy spring selling season draws closer, she said. As a result, homes are lingering on the market longer. For many agents, that means the time between paychecks is also growing.


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