- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Despite record-breaking snow last month, home prices and the number of sales shot up in Rhode Island over February of last year, according to data released Thursday.

The state’s Realtors group said 480 single-family homes sold last month, a 14 percent increase, and the median price rose 5 percent, from $185,000 to $194,500.

“I think the message is being delivered to the buyers that these interest rates that are historically low are not going to be around forever,” said Bruce Lane, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

The numbers are particularly good considering how bad the weather was over the winter, Lane said.

In January and February, relentless blizzards battered New England, including a storm Jan. 27 that caused Gov. Gina Raimondo to declare a state of emergency in Rhode Island.

Although the number of multifamily homes sold last month increased only slightly - up to 84 from 83 in February 2014 - the median price for these homes increased by about 8 percent, up to $150,500 from $139,000 in February 2014.

Lane attributed last month’s stagnation in multifamily homes sales to a lack of inventory after many investors took advantage of short sales last year.

The number of condominiums sold decreased last month, and Lane said this might be an effect of the increase in single-family home sales. There were 68 condos sold last month, an 8 percent decrease from the 74 condos sold in February 2014.

“I think one of the factors on the condo market is to get financing on a condo can at times be more difficult than on a single-family home,” Lane said.

The median price of condos sold last month also dropped slightly, from $185,000 in February 2014 to $180,500.

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