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Bidding wars return to one Boston neighborhood

Packed open houses, multiple offers, and higher prices. In (usually high-end) neighborhoods like Jamica Plain, the bidding wars still rage.

Prospective homebuyer Andrea Mercurio (right) at a crowded open house in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

Kai Ryssdal: I'm gonna tell you something now that if you repeat it, I'm going to have to deny it. But it's entirely possible that we're near some kind of a bottom in housing. That's not to say that prices and sales are going to start going up tomorrow. But the most recent set of numbers does suggest that they might stop getting worse. Alan Greenspan once said that what had in this country wasn't so much a housing bubble as it was a bunch of regional froth in different parts of the country. So today -- by way of catching up -- three stories on housing from three different cities. Some of them frothy, some not.

First of all, from WBUR in Boston Curt Nickish.


Curt Nickish: Within just 15 minutes, eight groups have walked into this open house in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Randal Engelmann: Well feel free to roam outside, too. Parking out back, a couple cars back there.

Realtor Randal Engelmann is selling this two-story townhouse. It's listed for more than $400,000. Jamaica Plain has stately houses, lots of parks and a subway connection. Even so, Engelmann says the past few years spring home sales fizzled. Not this year.

Randal Engelmann: Multiple offers on many, many properties. I sold the unit two doors down from here -- and we had 11 offers on that. So, good for the seller!

Not so good for buyers. Especially first-time ones like Sheryl Howard. She and her partner started looking for a place a few months ago.

Sheryl Howard: We both like to mull over big purchases, we didn't really understand how quickly you had to like put in an offer. Um, and so that's made it a little stressful.

It may be stressful for some, but Engelmann is glad the housing market is recovering.

Engelmann: We're certainly seeing prices starting to go up. But they're not spiking really fast. What we're seeing is that inventory is just being absorbed really quickly.

Homes that are overpriced, the realtor says, aren't selling.

Andrea Mercurio: That's OK. Probably redo that bathroom!

Andrea Mercurio is checking out another open house, a condo. But she already owns a place, so she's not in a hurry to buy.

Mercurio: Square footage and everything else looks to be something I could take advantage of. But I think I would want to look around, I'm not ready to move on it.

Mercurio gets back into her mini Cooper to head to the next open house.

Mercurio: Pull out the iPad and see where we're going next.

She's too late for that townhouse, the one the realtor was showing earlier. He and the seller starting take bids the next day. Within two hours, the seller accepted the highest of four offers -- all above asking price.

In Boston, I'm Curt Nickisch for Marketplace.

Prospective homebuyer Andrea Mercurio (right) at a crowded open house in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

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