New home sales see year-to-year upswing
(CBS News) There is some encouraging news on the housing front: New home sales are up more than 15 percent in the past year.
With their eye on retirement, Bob and Lisa Shatz have been looking to buy a house in Newburyport along the Massachusetts coast.
"We thought it would be nice to relocate into a cooler climate," Bob said.
The couple currently lives in Nashville, Tenn., where this summer they've endured weeks of record heat. So they looked north.
"You got beautiful summer breezes that even on the hottest day don't feel anywhere near as hot as Nashville," Bob said.
The Shatz couple is part of a slow-moving but encouraging trend. Though sales vary from state to state, Massachusetts saw its housing market jump in June by 18.5% from the previous year.
After looking for more than three years the couple thinks that now is the time to make a move.
"The prices are now what I think of as a reasonable level," Bob Shatz said.
It may be "reasonable" because the median sale price of a single-family home dropped nearly two percent over the last year.
"I think if we keep going the way we're going, it's looking good," said Trisha McCarthy, President of the Massachusetts Realtors' Association.
McCarthy said she is encouraged to see any signs of improvement. Unemployment in Massachusetts is six percent, compared to just over eight percent nationwide.
McCarthy believes confidence in the housing market is essential for a recovery, but tough mortgage requirements are a hurdle.
"Years ago if you could breathe into a mirror you could get a loan. So it was very easy. Now the pendulum has gone completely to the other side and the regulations are very strict," McCarthy said.
That's not worrying the Shatz family, who see the historically low mortgage interest rates as a plus.
"It's the lowest rates that I can remember. Right now, it's a great buyer's time," Bob Shatz said.
So they're searching hard to find their Massachusetts retreat from the Nashville heat.
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