Median home prices continue climb despite issues facing city

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The citywide revaluation that reflected the hot housing market of the past three years and in many cases resulted in higher taxes – as well as the ongoing city budget debate and threat of lost school programs including sports – doesn’t appear to have dampened Warwick home sales.

Warwick continued to hold its dominance as the municipality with the greatest number of single-family homes in the state, according to the June report released last week by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. Warwick single-family home sales for June numbered 123, down from 147 for June 2018.

The association reported that sales statewide declined 5.1 percent last month compared to June of 2018. Pending sales, however, increased 14.4 percent, an indication that completed transactions could be on the rise in July and August. That increase may be short-lived, though, as inventory continued to decline in June, falling 4.1 percent year-over-year.

Neither Nick Slocum of the Slocum Agency nor Dean deTonnancourt, president of the association and HomeSmart Professional Real Estate, believe uncertainty over the school budget and the effects of the revaluation have impacted Warwick home sales yet.

While Slocum said homebuyers have had questions about Warwick schools, he is not seeing any negative activity. He feels with resolution the issue will fade from discussion.

deTonnancourt called the school budget “an issue of discussion and concern.” As for the revaluation, deTonnancourt said it is a “matter of education.” He pointed out that higher values don’t necessarily translate into higher taxes. Values are on the increase as the June report shows.

The median price of single-family homes statewide, though still climbing, showed moderating appreciation. At $299,500, the median price of a single-family home sold in June was 3.3 percent higher than in June of the prior year. The median price of a Warwick single-family home climbed 3.4 percent from $232,000 in June 2018 to $239,900 last month.

Statewide, the days a single-family home was on market before selling rose from 45 to 55. In Warwick the days on market was a consistent 40.

“Homes at $300,000 and under are flying off the shelf,” said Slocum. deTonnancourt likewise identified $300,000 and under as the most active price point. He said that HomeSmart has 200 pending sales in the overall market and 240 listings (of which 130 were new listings) as of last month.

“Inventory continues to be our issue overall,” he said. “It’s not that homes aren’t selling, they’re selling quicker.”

In a release issued by the association, deTonnancourt said, “Overall our spring selling season was very active. Low interest rates have kept the gates open for homebuyers. Since the Federal Reserve has indicated that rates should remain low, we’re hopeful that the market will have continued energy. Homeowners who are on the fence about selling should know that the conditions of today’s market are in their favor. Rates are low and buyers are out there and ready to purchase.”

The condominium market saw the opposite trend in activity in June, with sales increasing 12.3 percent and pending sales growing by 32 percent from the prior year. The number of condos listed for sale remained relatively stable year-to-year, falling just 1.3 percent.

At $238,000, the median price of condominiums sold last month was 3.8 percent higher than in June of 2018. The rate of appreciation in the condo sector has been trending down for the past four months.

According to the report, closing activity in the multifamily market fell significantly. Down 25.6 percent from the prior year, only 152 multifamily properties sold in June. The number of listings has fallen from the prior year each month since February and the rate of decline has been growing, leading to a downward trend in closing activity that began at the end of last year. Five of the past seven months have seen fewer multi-family sales than seen 12 months earlier.

Despite the decreased number of closed transactions, multifamily properties under contract but not yet sold rose for the third consecutive month, rising 17.3 percent last month. The median price of June sales showed an annual gain of 11.3 percent.

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Ben Dover

Liars figure, figures lie...Eventually the laws of supply and demand take over, as well as value. Or put another way, when is a deal not a deal? When you can't afford it because of all costs...According to the PEW Institute survey recently released, our State pension fund, funded at 55% , ranks as one of the 10 worst...Something else to be concerned about...Good luck with that.

Thursday, July 25