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More Hub Homeowners Are Selling—But Why? Two Theories

The conventional wisdom—and when is that ever wrong—says that the Hub's housing market is rebounding (our theory is that it never really stumbled, that what happen circa 2007-2009 was an aberration). Condo and single-family home prices are up, for one thing. Bidding wars are the norm in downtown Boston neighborhoods, for another. Now, comes fresh evidence that more homeowners are listing their properties.

The number of condos and single-families for sale in Suffolk County (read: mostly Boston) increased 35.6 percent from February to March, according to the latest report from Redfin. The number of listings was also up 7 percent year-over-year. In Middlesex County, which includes the likes of Somerville, Cambridge and Newton, listings were up 32.6 percent month to month and more than 21 percent year-over-year.

When it came to condos alone in Suffolk County/Boston, the monthly jump was particularly pronounced: 37 percent (and 0.4 percent annually), while in Middlesex condo listings were up 31.8 percent monthly and actually down annually more than 3 percent. Single-family listings were up by more than 30 percent in both counties monthly, and around that percentage annually.

Some of the biggest monthly jumps in total listings (single-family + condo)?

· Cambridge: 66 percent
· Arlington: 76
· Oak Square (Boston): 63.2
· Cleveland Circle (Boston): 73.1
· Jamaica Central (Boston): 73.8

In other words, the takeaway is that more homeowners were trying to sell their homes in March than in February or March 2011. But why? Prices are up, mortgage rates are still low—maybe sellers see this time as their best chance in years, simple as that. Another theory of ours: phantom listings. Sellers aren't really sellers at all, just toe-dippers, seeing what they might get on a market that's suddenly being buzzed about so much (meta!); they have little intention of actually selling. Either way, it's another (thankfully non-anecdotal) sign that things ain't what they used to be.

· Redfin Report (link at the bottom)
· Is Boston's Housing Market Just ... Normal? [Curbed Boston]
· Mass. Condo Sales, Prices Jump in March—the Latest Numbers [Curbed Boston]
· It's a Seller's Market in the Hub Again! Anecdotally! [Curbed Boston]