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Report: Massachusetts home sales are on the decline even as they sell for record prices

Buying
A view of Boston skyline.
A view of the Boston skyline. David L Ryan/Globe Staff file

A drop in sales for both single-family homes and condos didn’t keep their median prices from hitting record highs for November, according to a report The Warren Group released Thursday.

The median price for a single-family home in Massachusetts rose 1.3 percent year over year to $390,000, according to the report, while the median cost of a condo jumped 3.6 percent to $378,000.

A sharp decline in single-family sales, however, is signaling more than the average winter real estate slump.

“It’s not uncommon for single-family home sales to take a dip towards the end of the year, but a near 12 percent decline is unprecedented,” said Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group. “The last time November Massachusetts single-family home sales declined by a larger percent was nine years ago in November 2010, when sales plummeted almost 30 percent.”

Condo sellers saw a 4.9 percent year-over-year decrease in sales, but Warren predicts that this market will flourish. “Despite the year-over-year decline in the number of sales, I fully expect the condo market to round out the year on par with where it was in 2018,” he said. “Units in new developments are being snatched up left and right, which continues to add upward pressure to the median sale price. But this isn’t scaring away buyers anytime soon.”

In Greater Boston, sales of single-family homes and condos dropped 16 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, year over year, according to a report the Greater Boston Association of Realtors released Thursday. Meanwhile, the median sales price for single-family homes reached a record high for the month ($599,900), a 2.3 percent increase over November 2018, while the median sales price for condo units remained flat at roughly $563,000.

“The buyer pool remains strong, but we are seeing less of a rush to buy on the part of those entering the market since mid-summer,” said Jim Major, association president and an agent with Century 21 North East in Woburn. “As inventory levels have risen over the course of the year and prices have leveled off, many are taking the opportunity to expand their home search and finding their ability to negotiate has improved.” 

As buyers take their time, homes are sitting on the market longer in Greater Boston. Single-family homes are staying on an average of 56 days before they sell (12 percent longer), while condos are going after 52 days (18.2 percent longer).

“There is less of a sense of urgency among today’s buyers, and they’re showing more sensitivity to price and condition as the market has showed signs of cooling,” Major said. “As a result, homes are sitting on the market longer, and owners need to be more realistic in their pricing if they expect their property to sell in the desired time frame.” 

“While there is still some modest price growth occurring in the entry-level market and select communities where listings remain in short supply, the rate of appreciation in home values has largely subsided,” he said. “Home prices have either peaked or plateaued in many areas and could moderate further in the months ahead if supply levels grow.”

What are condos and single-family homes selling for in your area? Here’s the Greater Boston Association of Realtors’ breakdown for 64 communities:

Central Middlesex County
ActonBedfordBoxboroughConcordHudsonLexingtonLincolnMaynardStowSudburyWayland, and Weston

These communities saw a drop (5 percent) in the median single-family selling price, from $778,863 in November 2018 to $740,000 in November 2019. Condo prices, however, rose 10.4 percent, from $438,950 in November 2018 to $484,500. Single-family homes spent an average of 79 days on the market. For condos, it was 69.

Eastern Middlesex
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn 

These communities saw a 5 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $579,000 in November 2018 to $608,000 in November 2019. Condo prices jumped 9.1 percent, from $417,000 in November 2018 to $455,000 in November 2019. Single-family homes spent an average of 44 days on the market. Condos were on for 36 days on average.

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

The median selling price for single-family homes inched up 1.9 percent, from $667,500 in November 2018 to $680,000 in November 2019. Condo prices decreased slightly (0.6 percent), from $650,000 in October 2018 to $646,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 48 days on the market. For condos, that number was 53.

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

The median selling price for a single-family home dropped 1.8 percent, from $600,000 in November 2018 to $589,000 in November 2019. Condo prices jumped 25.1 percent, from $403,700 in November 2018 to $505,000 in November 2019. Single-family homes spent an average of 64 days on the market. For condos, it was 60.

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $468,500 in November 2019, a 6.5 percent increase from the November 2018 price of $440,000. Condo prices shot up 24 percent, from $289,900 in November 2018 to $359,500. Single-family homes spent an average of 54 days on the market. For condos, it was 50.

City of Boston

The median selling price for a single-family home here was $604,500 in November 2019, a 0.7 percent decrease from $609,000 in November 2018. Condo prices slipped 0.8 percent, from $650,000 in November 2018 to $645,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 40 days on the market. For condos, it was 54.

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