PITTSFIELD -- As the recession begins to loosen its grip on the Berkshires, the county's credit markets seem to be improving, too.
Home sales in the Central Berkshire region during the first quarter of this year were at their highest level since 2008, while first-quarter sales in Northern Berkshire were the highest since 2007, according to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.
Home sales in Southern Berkshire dropped 9 percent during the first quarter, but sales of all properties in the county during that three-month time period were up 16 percent.
The sale of single-family homes in the Berkshires increased 15.2 percent during the first quarter, slightly below the 19.1 percent registered statewide. The total sales of residential real estate in the Berkshires had declined by 5 percent in 2011.
"We're getting back to somewhere [around 2007] said Board of Realtors Pres ident Chapin Fish. "Things are definitely coming back. I think primary homeowners are more secure with their jobs and the economy. And the interest rates are still incredibly low."
Sales of commercial property in the Berkshires increased 41 percent in 2011 after experiencing zero growth in 2010, according to the Boston-based Warren Group, which tracks commercial and residential property sales across the state.
At the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pitts field, Register Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. said transactions involving commercial
"We are starting to see some mortgage financing statements that indicate banks both local and national are taking debts on commercial properties again," Nuciforo said.
Michael Ferry, a senior vice president at Berkshire Bank, also said commercial lending has gotten better.
"I don't think it's at the level it was two or three years ago," he said. "I do sense that it's picked up. There's some seasonality to it. The first quarter has typically been slow."