Towns are seeing an increase in the number of homes for sale.
By Scott Van Voorhis Correspondent

Boston-area buyers have endured serious abuse over the past couple years, facing sometimes dozens of competing offers and cocky sellers dictating all sorts of demands.

While it is too soon to call an end to what has been an epic seller’s market, buyers are finding a less crazed atmosphere as they check out homes and visit open houses this fall.

An increase in the number of homes hitting the market across Greater Boston has meant there are more listings to choose from, brokers say. In some cases, buyers are even able to haggle over price, instead of simply asking “how high” before signing a purchase and sales agreement, notes Re Gibson, manager of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s office in Franklin.

“Get a house, period, is what you needed to do before,” she noted. “Now you have choices.”

The change has been particularly dramatic in Franklin, a growing suburb out on the 495 beltway between Boston and Providence. Last fall, there were just 40 single-family homes on the market. This year, that number has nearly doubled to 76, Gibson said.

Franklin is not alone in the number of mid-priced homes for-sale. It’s a trend seen across Boston’s suburbs.

Towns in Norfolk County, which includes Brookline and Dedham, and continues from Franklin to the Rhode Island border, have seen significant increases in the number of homes for sale. This is especially so in the $300,000-to-$350,000 range, and the $500,000-to-$600,000 range notes Alex Coon, market manager for Redfin’s Boston area office.

The western suburbs have also seen a big jump in mid-range homes, with 419 listings in the $500,000-to-$600,000 range, up from 358 last year. Days on market, or the time it takes for a house to snag a buyer, have increased to 98, up six day over last year.

With more homes to choose from, buyers are taking their time to look around instead of rushing to buy the first available house, Coon said.

“From the agents on the ground, there is definitely not as much of a sense of immediacy” on the part of buyers, Coon said. “It’s a great thing – it will allow people to have a little more of a sane approach.”

Some buyers are even able to engage in a fun activity many have come to believe no longer exists: negotiating over price.

Matt Hanson, a Redin agent who works in the Reading- Woburn-Melrose area, said homes that are in great condition and well-priced are still drawing two-to-four bids. But, if a house needs work – whether it’s a new roof or a tired kitchen – there’s room to haggle.

“I do think there is some room to negotiate when a house is not in move-in condition,” he said. Out in Franklin, Gibson says some buyers are able to talk down the price by two or three percent.

“We had a lot of multiple offer situations in the spring and summer,” she said. “We are not seeing as many now.”

Even Cambridge is not quite as crazy as it was in early summer, with homes staying on the market a week or two instead of getting snapped up in a matter of days or even hours, said Bill Aibel, a premium associate at Coldwell Banker.

“I am actually feeling a shift in the winds a little bit favoring potential buyers,” he said.