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On surface, the latest report on national home sales was good: While sales of existing homes sales slowed in May (7.13 million vs. 7.18 million in April), they were still at the second-highest level on record with home prices hitting an all-time high.
But look at some of the hottest markets and there are signs that things may be cooling. Consider Boston and Massachusetts at large. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors said sales of single-family homes were down 11.1% in May, following a 10% decline in April. That’s the lowest number of sales in May since 2001. And inventoriesof unsold single-family homes rose to the highest levels since 1997. Frankly, the only thing that’s propping up the Boston market are sales of condos, which are on fire — but are probably the result of rampant speculative buying by investors, not families looking for shelter.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.