Ticker: Gas explosion payments out early; Existing home sales plunge

The first $70 million in settlement payments to people affected by a series of natural gas explosions in Massachusetts in 2018 will be mailed Friday, about six weeks earlier than expected, attorneys involved in the case said.

“For those residents who filed a claim with the administrator seeking a lump-sum payment, the average per-household payment will be more than $8,000,” according to the statement from attorneys involved in the $143 million class action lawsuit, The Eagle-Tribune reported.

Attorneys had asked for settlement payments to be fast-tracked because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The explosions and fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover in September 2018 left a teenager dead, about two dozen injured and destroyed or damaged more than 130 properties. People were left without natural gas service for months during the winter.

The explosions were caused by overpressurized pipelines operated by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, according to a federal investigation.

The utility pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to pay a $53 million fine.

US existing home sales plunge 17.8% in April

Sales of existing homes plunged 17.8% in April with the real estate market still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that last month’s decline pushed sales down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million units, the slowest pace since September 2011.

The sales drop was the largest one-month decline since a 22.5% fall in July 2010. That tail-off was preceded by the end a congressionally approved tax credit intended pull the housing market out of its 2008 collapse.

The median price for a home sold in April was $286,800, which was an increase of 7.4% from a year ago. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group, attributed the big jump in the median price to a lack of enough homes for sale, especially for first-time buyers.

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