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Market Insights

Tax credit spurs December sales



PORTSMOUTH-The real estate tax credit continues to spur very healthy sales activity in the seacoast real estate market. According to the Seacoast Board of REALTORS, sales of single-family and residential condominium units remained strong in December, shattering anemic figures from a year ago. Residential sales in the nine-sample seacoast towns were up 104% and condos transactions 70%.

            December was the fifth best month for closed residential sales, just one sale shy of  November totals. Condo sales were off 26% from last month, but recorded their first $1 million-plus sale since August 2008, on Ocean Boulevard in Rye.

            Opening up the real estate tax credit to current homeowners seems to have spurred robust higher-end activity, as well.  Residential higher-end totals (sales exceeding $400,000) for December were the highest since August 2007. In fact the 23 sales in the $400,000-$700,000 category were the most since June 2007 and the most active price category for the month.

            Pending sales were more typical for the time of year, falling 44% from last month on the residential side and 33% for condos. These numbers were the worst since at least 2006.

            "I think the sales numbers are fabulous, but the pending totals do show how dependent we are on the tax credit-and reflects the national slow down as well," said John Rice, a former president of the Seacoast Board of REALTORS. "With the credit timeframe extended, the sense of urgency we had to close by November 30 is gone. I suspect things will pick up significantly as we approach the next deadline."

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