Harvard Report Says Massachusetts Housing Market Improving But Not Recovered

A report from Harvard University this week concludes the long-struggling U.S. housing market has finally hit bottom.  But it’s still a long way back to the surface, even in Massachusetts, which has fared better than much of the country.

Chris Herbert of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies says the new study report indicates the housing crisis may be at an end.

“We have had a number of times over the last few years where we thought the housing market was recovering only to see it fall back down again. But this time is different. And Its different because we’re seeing fundamentals improve in both demand, in terms of steady but moderate upticks in terms of sales, and in supply side in that we’re seeing home inventories down to levels that are more normal in a market.”

Nevertheless, Northeastern economist Barry Bluestone – who prepares annual housing report cards for the Greater Boston area – says it could still take many years for Massachusetts prices to return to their peak 6 years ago:

“A few years ago we did an analysis and we thought we would be back around 2014, 2015. But indeed the depressed prices have continued much longer than the last cycle. And now I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see those prices regaining their past levels until the end of this decade.”

So is now a good time to buy a house in Western Massachusetts? Bluestone says yes.

“Greater Boston itself continues to be a very very expensive market but there is affordable housing available in the western parts of the state, and in the middle of the state. And as these communities rebuild their economies, particularly with the growth in manufacturing we’re now seeing, there’ll be some good housing opportunities in many of these communities.”

Bluestone says homeowners who want to sell still should wait a little longer if they can, until prices rise a bit.