News Column

Mortgage activity trending lower

June 5, 2014

By Robert Gold, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.



June 05--BARNSTABLE -- Real estate sales took a dip in May year over year, while mortgage activity sank 41.2 percent, according to the latest data from the Barnstable County Registry of Deeds.

The median sale price rose slightly.

There were 947 mortgages last month with values of more than $50,000, the registry reported. That compares with 1,610 in May 2013.

"A big piece of that is the refinance market going on at the time," said David Brennan, vice president of the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank.

Barnstable County Register of Deeds John Meade agrees.

"That is consistent with where we are all year," Meade said. "To me, that is 100 percent coming from the fact the refinancing activity has basically come to an effective halt."

Meade said that those who were looking to refinance have already done so at the lower rates of previous years. And now, with rates higher than last year, the incentive to refinance has waned.

"The rates were down significantly for a long, long time " and those people that could take advantage have already done so," he said.

There were 693 property sales last month, compared with 724 sales for the same time last year. Meade said last year's sales in May "were one of the better months we had in a long, long time." He described last month as "relatively solid" in terms of the number of sales.

The number of foreclosures last month was eight, compared with 18 in May 2013. There have been 61 for the first five months of this year, compared with 75 for the same stretch last year.

The median sales value was $329,000 last month. This compared with $320,000 in May 2013 and $310,617 in April of this year. Within the past 13 months, only September 2013, at $330,426, had a higher median sales value.

Meade said the $500,000-to-$1-million market has heated up recently.

"When things are really going well, you see that half-million to million-dollar activity level really improving," Meade said. "We seem to be creeping up to consistently being above $300,000," he said, referring to the monthly median sales value. Within the past 13 months, the median has only dropped below $300,000 twice.

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(c)2014 the Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.)

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Source: Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, MA)