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Real estate firm looks for gains in local markets

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the real estate company, presented the results of its first quarter review of Rhode Island and Connecticut housing sales last week, and said there were signs of a healthy market in both states after the long winter.

Aggregate numbers from Westerly and Mystic were particularly strong in a year-to-year comparison of first-quarter sales.

The company said that statewide sales volume in Rhode Island and average sale prices increased year-over-year. There were 1,549 closed sales during the first quarter, a figure that was level with the number of sales in the first quarter of 2013, according to Berkshire, and average single family home values were higher, rising 16.4 percent to an average of $277,900. Condominiums saw a slight increase in the average sale price with Bristol and Kent Counties leading the way with 16.7 percent and 13.6 percent growth, respectively. Sales volume for single family homes statewide increased to $416,600,000, up 16.5 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2013.

“While taking into account the harsh weather of the first quarter, Rhode Island’s real estate market remains one of its strongest economic sectors,” said Candace Adams, president and CEO of the company’s New England Properties. “Confidence in the market and historically low interest rates have re-engaged buyers and sellers. Given all indicators the second quarter will be strong for sales in Rhode Island.”

Here are some figures for local Washington County communities that registered a statistically meaningful number of sales in the first quarter:

• Westerly: 46 single family homes, a gain of 39 percent, with a median sales price of $278,500, up 29.5 percent from the same period a year ago, and an average sales price of $590,000, a gain of 100 percent. The dollar volume of first quarter sales was more than $27.1 million, a gain of 179.3 percent. (The figures exclude Bradford, where two single-family homes were sold for $152,500 each, according to Berkshire.)

Sales results for condos were also strong in percentage terms. There were 13 properties sold. The median price was $227,700, up 83.6 percent from the year before, and the average was $275,100, up 102 percent. The dollar volume was put at more than $3.5 million, up 275 percent.

Westerly’s overall results appear were boosted by sales of higher-end properties. Wakefield, for example, had the same number of single-family home sales as in Westerly, but its dollar volume was almost $10 million less.

• Charlestown: 22 single family homes, a gain of less than 5 percent, with a median sales price of $326,300, up 5.2 percent, and an average sales price of $460,500, a decline of 7.8 percent. The dollar volume of first quarter sales was $10.1 million, a decline of 3.4 percent.

The real estate company also reported that the market in New London County experienced gains in all housing types.

Locally, Mystic, which Berkshire Hathaway breaks out from other parts of town (including the Pawcatuck and Stonington zip codes), had 23 single family home sales, a decline of 4.2 percent, with a median sales price of $293,500, up 25 percent from a year ago, and an average sales price of $433,400, a gain of 73.4 percent. The dollar volume of first quarter sales was $9.7 million, a gain of 66 percent.

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