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Sales in Mass. jump as single-family home prices rise and condo costs drop

Buying News
In January, sales of existing homes – or previously owned homes – dropped to their lowest levels in nine months, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.
. AP

Lower mortgage rates and the relatively mild winter reportedly have been a boost for home sales in Massachusetts.

The median sale price for a single-family home in the state hit $365,000 in February, a record high for the usually slow month and a 7.4 percent increase over February 2018, according to a report The Warren Group analytics firm released Wednesday. The state also saw an 8.7 increase in the number of sales.

“The last time the median sale price declined on a year-over-year basis was in March 2016,” said Tim Warren, Warren Group CEO. “The last time the median sale price declined on a year-over-year basis was in March 2016. Furthermore, February’s increase in median price was the biggest percentage gain in four years.”

For condo sellers, the news was mixed.

The state saw a 6.2 percent increase in condo sales in February — the most transactions recorded in in that month since 2008, according to the report — but prices fell 2 percent year over year to $343,000.

“Condo sales normally reach their low in any given year in February,” Warren said. “It has yet to be seen if that will be the case in 2019, but the slight uptick last month shows that buyers aren’t being scared off by historically high sale prices.”

In Greater Boston, the number of sales in both categories skyrocketed.

Sales of single-family homes saw a year-over-year increase of 21.8 percent in February, according to a report the Greater Boston Association of Realtors (GBAR) released Wednesday. The condo market jumped 13.1 percent.

“Dating back to last fall, inventory has been steady if not increasing month over month, and the larger number of listings is providing buyers more opportunity to get into the market,” said Jim Major, association president and an agent with Century 21 North East in Woburn. “Compared to a year ago, buyers have a wider selection of homes to choose from and a slightly longer, more relaxed time frame in which to search for a home and consider an offer due to the more plentiful housing supply. That’s likely to continue into the spring market, especially if mortgage rates remain low,” he added.

The median sale price for a single-family home rose 6.8 percent year over year, from $541,000 in February 2018 to $577,500, a new high for the month. The median sale price for condos slipped for the first time since September 2017, down 2.9 percent from $546,000 in February 2018 to $530,000 last month.

“While it remains a seller’s market in many communities, we’re seeing some evidence that home prices may have peaked, especially in the luxury home and high-end segments of the market,” Major said. “Homes that are not priced right are lingering on the market longer, and where there is competition at a specific price point or for a certain style of home, buyers are finding room for negotiation.”

“The good news for home buyers is that as the supply of homes for sale continues to rise, we can expect to see less upward pressure on home prices,” he said.

The number of active listings in both markets in Greater Boston rose in February, according to the GBAR report: 2.4 percent for single-family homes and a whopping 22.9 percent for condos, according to the report.

“The improved balance between supply and demand bodes well for the spring home-buying season and the overall health of the local housing market,” Major said.

Statewide, however, the inventory of single-family homes was down 9.5 percent year over year, according to a report the Massachusetts Association of Realtors released Wednesday. It was the lowest number of single-family homes on the market in February since 2004. On a brighter note, the number of condos on the market was up 5.6 percent.

How did your community fare?

Central Middlesex County
ActonBedfordBoxboroughConcordHudsonLexingtonLincolnMaynardStowSudburyWayland, and Weston

These communities saw a 19.3 percent decrease in the median single-family selling price, from $765,037 in February 2018 to $617,500 in February 2019. Condo prices slipped 11 percent, from $344,000 in February 2018 to $306,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 68 days on the market. For condos, it was 53.

Eastern Middlesex
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn

These communities saw a 6.9 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $527,750 in February 2018 to $564,000 in February 2019. Condo prices rose 8 percent, from $409,000 in February 2018 to $441,500. Single-family homes spent an average of 53 days on the market. For condos, it was 44.

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

The selling price for single-family homes edged up 4.5 percent, from $615,450 in February 2018 to $643,000 in February 2018. Condo prices dropped 6.6 percent, from $650,000 in February 2018 to $607,000. Condos spent an average of 51 days on the market. For single-family homes, that number was 46.

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

The median selling price for a single-family home jumped 14.3 percent, from $560,000 in February 2018 to $639,900 in February 2019. Condo prices rose 10.1 percent, from $328,750 in February 2018 to $362,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 58 days on the market. For condos, it was 74.

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $470,000 in February 2019, a 20.8 percent increase from the February 2018 price of $389,000. Condo prices rose 6.4 percent, from $327,999 in February 2018 to $349,000. Condos spent an average of 58 days on the market. For single-family homes, that number was 62.

City of Boston

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $573,000 in February 2019, a 6.1 percent decrease from $540,000 in February 2018. Condo prices dropped 12.8 percent, from $650,000 in February 2018 to $567,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 57 days on the market. For condos, it was 55.

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