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Home prices hit a record high for January as sales numbers plummet to a 4-year low

Buying
In this Wednesday, March 28, 2018, photo, a sold sign is shown outside a single-family home on the market in Denver. On Thursday, May 31, Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Massachusetts saw the fewest recorded sales transactions for the month of January since 2015, according to The Warren Group. David Zalubowski /AP/File

The median sale price of a single-family home in Massachusetts set a record high of $367,000 for January, a 4.9 percent increase year over year. The news is even worse for condo buyers.

The cost of a condo was the highest in state history last month, hitting $354,600, according to an analysis by The Warren Group. That’s a 2.8 percent increase.

“Newly built or renovated condos are a big part of the market and commending higher prices,” said Tim Warren, CEO of the data analytics firm and publisher of Banker & Tradesman. “The difference in median price between a single-family home and a condo is now just $12,400.”

While prices went up, the number of sales for both dropped by double digits, according to the analysis. The state saw a 10.2 percent decline in single-family home transactions year over year and a 13.3 percent drop in condo sales.

“A rising single-family sale price coupled with falling sales was a common trend we saw throughout 2018, so I’m not surprised it carried over into January 2019,” Warren said. “The last time January saw a sale volume this low was in 2015, and with the local inventory still hovering near a historical low, you can expect to see fewer sales. Low supply is likely to push prices higher still.”

In Greater Boston, the news was more of the same.

The median sales price for a single-family home hit a record high for the month of January — $590,000, which is a 7.3 percent increase over January 2018, according to a report by the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. The cost of a condo was also up in the 64 communities the report covers, coming in at $570,000 last month, a 9.6 percent increase.

“For homeowners who are debating whether or not to put their home on the market, now’s the time,” said James Major, the association’s president and an agent with Century 21 North East in Woburn. “Home values are at or near record highs in many communities, and the current rate of price appreciation is unlikely to be sustainable for very much longer, so this spring may be an opportune to trade-up or downsize.”

Prices were up, but the number of sales fell by double-digit percentages. For condos, the volume was down 12.4 percent in January 2019 compared with January 2018. Single-family home sales slipped 11 percent. On a month-to-month basis, sales declined even more significantly, mostly due to seasonal factors, sliding about 27 percent from December’s sales volume in each market, according to the report.

“While we saw a decline in closed sales last month, much of the softening has been confined to the upper-end of the market, where buyer activity slowed late last year due to the correction in the stock market,” Major said. “Overall, the housing market has been very active since the start of the year, with both number of new listings coming on the market and amount of properties going under agreement up sharply thanks to this year’s mild winter conditions.”

The number of active single-family listings in Greater Boston was 9.3 percent higher last month than it was in January 2018. For condos, that number was up 30 percent.

“The increase in listing inventory is real and it’s providing more opportunity for buyers to get into the market as well as a better bargaining position,” Major said. “With the start of spring market now upon us, the balance between supply and demand should improve further, which should equate to more housing choices, a less frenetic sales pace, and a greater ability for buyers to negotiate than in recent years.”

How did your community fare?

Central Middlesex County
ActonBedfordBoxboroughConcordHudsonLexingtonLincolnMaynardStowSudburyWayland, and Weston

These communities saw a 1.9 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $761,500 in January 2018 to $776,000 in January 2019. Condo prices shot up 27.7 percent, from $320,000 in January 2018 to $408,750 last month. Single-family homes spent an average of 85 days on the market. For condos, it was 54.

Eastern Middlesex
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn

These communities saw a 10.9 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $531,000 in January 2018 to $589,000 in January 2019. Condo prices rose 9.8 percent, from $383,000 in January 2018 to $420,340. Single-family homes spent an average of 52 days on the market. For condos, it was 44.

Metro Boston
Arlington, BelmontBostonBrooklineCambridge, Chelsea, Dedham, Everett, MiltonNewton, Revere, SomervilleWalthamWatertown, and Winthrop

The selling price for single-family homes edged up 2.7 percent, from $630,000 in January 2018 to $647,250 in January 2019. Condo prices rose 5.1 percent, from $615,000 in January 2018 to $646,500. Condos spent an average of 59 days on the market. For single-family homes, that number was 67.

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

The median selling price for a single-family home shot up 13.2 percent, from $537,500 in January 2018 to $608,500 in January 2019. Condo prices rose a whopping 26 percent, from $400,000 in January 2018 to $504,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 56 days on the market. For condos, it was 71.

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $430,000 in January 2019, a 1.9 percent decrease from the January 2018 price of $438,250. Condo prices slipped 1 percent, from $260,000 in January 2018 to $257,450. Condos spent an average of 48 days on the market. For single-family homes, that number was 80.

City of Boston

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $625,000 in January 2019, an 8 percent increase from $575,000 in January 2018. Condo prices went up 8.7 percent, from $597,000 in January 2018 to $649,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 60 days on the market. For condos, it was 68.

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