Real estate-related stories appearing in this week’s Boston Globe:

More home sales hinge on “I’ll buy if I can sell”

A slowdown in home sales is forcing prospective home buyers to put a condition on their offers for residences in Boston’s suburbs: I’ll buy your house only if I can sell mine.

Homeowners trying to trade up to a bigger house or a community with better schools, or empty-nesters attempting to sell their big family home before moving into a downtown condominium, increasingly are adding a contingency to their offer to buy a new home specifying it can be withdrawn if the buyer cannot sell his or her own house.

Bubble? Maybe. Trouble? Maybe Not.

Today, the talk from Back Bay to Interstate 495 is again about the possible collapse of a housing bubble. But even with prices seemingly in the stratosphere, experts say there is no way to know if we’re headed for a repeat of the 1990 bust — when home prices in the Boston area fell 16 percent — or even for a flattening of prices before the next advance.

Should we worry?

Suburbs in for a cold spell

Suburbia — where fierce bidding wars were once waged on cul-de-sacs for Capes and Colonials — is under a cease-fire.  With single-family home inventories up 40 percent over last year, many real estate watchers are speculating whether the slowdown portends a coming buyer’s market.

Last week, MLS Property Information Network Inc. reported there were 25,843 single-family homes on the market in Massachusetts, which is the highest number of homes recorded since MLSPIN was incorporated in 1998, said Melissa Lindberg, the company’s director of marketing.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports there were 34,930 single-family homes on the market between April and June 2005, which is the most since the second quarter of 1996, when 36,414 homes were listed.

Hunting and gathering

Mingling with serious house hunters are more casual observers who visit open houses almost as a hobby — those curious about the architecture, seeking a better sense of local home values, looking for decorating tips, or who are just plain nosy.

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