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Massachusetts home sales down in May, but median prices continue to rise

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BOSTON — Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts fell in May when compared with the same month a year ago, but median prices continue to soar, two organizations that track the housing market reported Tuesday.

Sales dropped nearly 10 percent when compared with May 2013, but median prices jumped 7 percent to nearly $348,000, according to the Waltham-based Massachusetts Association of Realtors. It was the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year sales decreases, but the 12th consecutive month of higher median prices.

The Warren Group, a Boston-based publisher of business data, reported a 7 percent year-over-year decrease in sales but a jump in median prices of almost 5 percent to $340,000.

The organizations use slightly different figures in their calculations.

"Qualified buyers are taking advantage of the still-low interest rates to buy the limited supply of homes available and are pushing prices up," Realtors' President Peter Ruffini said.

Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren Jr. says rising prices are a sign of recovery.

"Low inventory and lingering winter weather in March may have depressed the number of sales, but the rising median price tells me that the market is recovering nicely," he said.

The Realtors showed a slight decrease in May-to-May condominium sales while The Warren Group reported a slight increase. Both reported a median price increase of roughly 9 percent.

"Condominiums are the strongest part of the market these days," Warren said. "The current median price of $320,000 is the highest of any month in history, proving that smaller spaces, care-free maintenance and urban living are popular these days,"

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