- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A decade after the housing boom, Rhode Island’s housing market is still struggling to recover.

While the number of home sales has bounced back, the median price of a single-family home in 2015 was 20 percent below the 2006 level, and more than 1,000 homes were sold under foreclosure or short sale, according to data from the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

An analysis by The Associated Press finds that the real estate recovery in the Providence metro area was among the weakest in the nation among large metro areas. The AP looked at data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey on measures such as dwindling or stagnant household income, subpar household formation and a decrease in homeownership rates. It also looked at foreclosure data from Zillow, the online real estate database company.

The Providence metro area encompasses most of Rhode Island and several Massachusetts communities, including Fall River and Attleboro.

In Rhode Island, the median price of a home in 2015 was $225,000, still significantly lower than in 2006, when it was $282,500, according to data from the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.



Sally Lapides, president of Residential Properties, the largest independent real estate agency in Rhode Island, said different parts of the state have done better than others.

“The foreclosure market hit certain communities dramatically and others almost not at all. So the recovery in those communities, they had much more mountain to climb than other communities that weren’t hit by it as hard,” she said.

For example, on Providence’s East Side, home of Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design and walking distance to downtown, the median price of a single-family home was $480,000 in 2015, down just 4 percent from $502,000 in 2006.

But the rest of Providence has struggled to come back. At the peak of the crisis, more than 1,000 properties were sold annually in Providence through foreclosure and short sale, according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. In 2015, the number stood at 240. As that happened, the median price of a single family home in Providence fell by 39 percent from 2006 to 2015, from $212,475 to $130,000.

Worst hit was the market for multi-family homes, where statewide the median price in 2015 was 41 percent lower than in 2006.

Arthur Yatsko, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, said rising rents and low interest rates are making home buying attractive again for many people.

“Today, prices are still low, interest rates are very low, we’re seeing a lot of retuning buyers who went through that, who lost their house, they’re getting into the market,” he said. “They could easily buy the same house for less money at a lower rate and have a much lower payment.”

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