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Experts disagree on whether pandemic will ‘soften’ home prices

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For the second month in a row in Massachusetts, the median sales price for a condo was higher than the cost of a single-family home. David L. Ryan/Globe staff

The median sales prices for condos and single-family homes in Massachusetts climbed in February, but real estate experts are divided on whether the COVID-19 pandemic will curb those increases in the coming months.

In February, the state’s condo market experienced a 16.6 percent year-over-year jump in the median price to $400,000, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

“This marked the second consecutive month that the median statewide condo price was higher than the median single-family home price,” said Tim Warren, Warren Group CEO. “Historically, this has been a rarity in the Massachusetts housing market, but perhaps with a thriving condo market in the Greater Boston area, this could be the new normal.”

The single-family home market saw a 4.1 percent year-over-year jump in the median price, to $380,000 — a record high for that month.

“The last time the median sale price declined on a year-over-year basis in any month was in March 2016,” Warren said. “However, with economic uncertainty perpetuated by COVID-19 and Massachusetts essentially at a standstill, we can expect the number of single-family home sales and the median sale price to take a hit in the coming months.”

Jason Gell, president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors and an agent with Keller Williams Realty Chestnut Hill in Newton, said the spring house hunt got off to an early and strong start, thanks to the mild winter and low mortgage rates, but there has been a change in the market recently.

“We’ve seen some buyers step to the sidelines these last two weeks, but many others are still actively house-hunting and remain eager to buy,” Gell said. “The challenge now is getting them into properties, and the uncertainty as to if and when they may be able to close on a home due to all the restrictions being placed on business and daily life.”

Some sellers are also likely to delay listing this home until after the spring, he added. “It’s inevitable that we’ll see a pause in sales activity from this pandemic, but the fundamentals of our market remain strong and should limit any price softening,” he said.

In February, Greater Boston saw an 8.3 percent year-over-year increase in the median sales price in the single-family home market and an 8.5 percent rise in the median condo price, according to the association. The median prices were $619,900 and $575,000, respectively.

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 23.9 percent jump in the median single-family selling price, from $617,500 in February 2019 to $765,000 last month. Condo prices rose 20.1 percent, from $306,000 in February 2019 to $367,500. Single-family homes spent an average of 64 days on the market. For condos, it was 77.

Eastern Middlesex
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn 

These communities saw a 7.3 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $565,000 in Feburary 2019 to $606,500 last month. Condo prices jumped 19 percent, from $440,000 in February 2019 to $523,750 last month. Single-family homes spent an average of 39 days on the market. Condos were on for 34 days on average.

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

The median selling price for single-family homes climbed 17.5 percent, from $634,000 in February 2019 to $745,000 last month. Condo prices rose 8.9 percent, from $606,000 in February 2019 to $660,000. Single-family homes spent an average of 44 days on the market. For condos, that number was 52.

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

The median selling price for a single-family home dropped 5.9 percent, from $639,900 in February 2019 to $602,000 last month. Condo prices increased 10.8 percent, from $396,900 in February 2019 to $439,900 last month. Single-family homes spent an average of 53 days on the market. For condos, it was 59.

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

The median selling price for a single-family home dropped 1.7 percent, from $470,000 in February 2019 to $461,800 last month. Condo prices shot up 19.6 percent, from $334,000 in February 2019 to $412,000 last month. Single-family homes spent an average of 47 days on the market. For condos, it was 67.

City of Boston

The median selling price for a single-family home rose 14.1 percent, from $569,900 in February 2019 to $650,000 last month. Condo prices jumped 17.5 percent, from $565,000 in February 2019 to $664,000 last month. Single-family homes spent an average of 44 days on the market. For condos, it was 55.

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