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Despite the economy, home sales are up and home prices are breaking records in Massachusetts

Buying News
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Sellers should ask their realtor to create a spreadsheet to compare offers more easily. Adobe Stock

Home sales are up in Massachusetts, and condo and single-family home prices are setting records, according to market reports released this week, cementing the housing market as one of the few bright spots in the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state saw a 5.3 percent increase in single-family home sales in July, which occurred after three consecutive months of double-digit declines, according to a report from The Warren Group, an analytics firm and publisher of Banker & Tradesman, that was released on Tuesday. But the market is still playing catch-up. “Year-to-date, there have been 29,439 single-family home sales — a 9.9 percent decrease from the first seven months of 2019.”

The median sales price for these properties ($460,000) was a record high for the month of July and reflects an 8.2 percent year-over-year increase. “At the start of quarantine, many analysts and local real estate professionals anticipated activity in the second quarter to be awful and the third quarter would be gangbusters,” said Tim Warren, chief executive officer of The Warren Group. “During the lockdown, many people were preoccupied with adjustments to their personal lives. Many were also uncertain about their jobs, as well as the economy, and weren’t actively looking for homes. It appears that shopping resumed in May, and the first wave of deals closed in July. Many buyers may have also gained optimism by not seeing wave after wave of layoffs and perhaps encouraged by a booming stock market.”

Experts say the pandemic has give sales in the suburbs a boost. “Confidence in the effectiveness of remote work may have enabled consideration of new locations,” Warren said.” Our data shows significant spikes in sales in Western Massachusetts, as well as on the Cape.”

The numbers, however, do not suggest a mass exodus to the suburbs, given that Suffolk was one of the two counties lifting the condo market. The other was Middlesex County.  The month-to-month condo numbers in the Commonwealth were relatively unchanged, but the median sales price jumped 10.3 percent to $430,000 compared with July 2019, according to the report. “Year-to-date, there have been 11,933 condo sales — a 13.7 percent decrease from the first seven months of 2019.”

“I’m curious to see if future demand for condominiums is affected by concern for living in more densely populated buildings and neighborhoods,” Warren said. The Warren Group offers a community-by-community breakdown.

In Greater Boston, sales of single-family homes and condos dropped 9.6 percent and 7.5 percent year over year, respectively, but were up 31.3 percent and 39.4 percent from June, according to a report the Greater Boston Association of Realtors released Wednesday. Meanwhile, prices for both continued their ascent. The median sales price for single-family homes hit a record $700,000 in July, a 6.9 percent increase. For condos it was $592,750, a 2.2 percent increase.

Greater-Boston-Market-GBAR-Analysis

“Even though life has yet to return to normal, the housing market has been very active since late May with no real let up in buyer traffic in sight,” said Jason Gell, association president and an agent with RE/Max Unlimited in Brookline.  “The reality is demand still far exceeds supply in nearly all segments of the market, and sales activity would be even higher if we just had more homes to sell.”

According to the news release, Gell said there is pent-up demand from buyers who were unable to look at homes this spring, and strong interest from others who have jumped into the market due to the pandemic in search of more living space or a desire to transition from the condo lifestyle to a single-family home where they can be on their own.

Those prospective buyers are facing a market where the inventory of single-family homes is low and competition is fierce.

“It remains a seller-driven market, with many listings drawing multiple offers,” Gell said. “With inventory so tight, there’s a lot of upward pressure on prices.  In order to compete, many buyers are having to pay top dollar.”

The number of single-family homes on the market in July reflected a 27.2 percent year-over-year decrease and a 3.3 percent drop since June. The condo market, however, saw an 18.3 percent increase in active listings year over year and a 9.2 percent rise since June 2019.

“We’ve seen a spike in the number of condos for sale over the past couple of months, and that’s a direct result of the pandemic,” Gell said.  “After spending so much time at home these past few months, we’re now seeing an influx of home buyers entering the market in search of a larger living space, including a home office, and private outdoor space.”

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

GBAR-Central-Middlesex-Market-July

These communities saw a 12.1 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $785,000 in July 2019 to $880,000 in July 2020. Condo prices sunk 9.9 percent, from $483,00 in July 2019 to $435,000 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 40 days on the market. For condos, it was 43. The number of active single-family listings was down 37.9 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 27 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was up 7.4 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands rose 6.9 percent.

Eastern Middlesex County
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn 

BGAR-Eastern-Middlesex-Mkt-July

These communities saw a 6.6 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $600,000 in July 2020 to $639,550 in July 2020. Condo prices jumped 9.1 percent, from $434,000 in July 2020 to $473,500 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 27 days on the market. Condos were on for 33 days on average. The number of active single-family listings was down 27.9 percent, while the number of condos on the market was up 1.1 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 15.2 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands was up 19 percent.

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

GBAR-Metro-Boston-Mkt-July

The median selling price for a single-family home edged up 2.6 percent, from $806,000 in July 2019 to $827,000 in July 2020. Condo prices inched up 1.5 percent, from $660,000 in July 2019 to $670,000 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 29 days on the market. For condos, that number was 33. The number of active single-family listings was down 0.1 percent, while the number of condos on the market jumped 28.9 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold dropped 10.5 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands fell 12.8 percent.

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

GBAR-Metro-West-Mkt-July

The median selling price for a single-family home slipped 0.1 percent, from $712,000 in July 2019 to $711,000 in July 2020. Condo prices decreased 0.1 percent, from $387,450  in July 2019 to $387,000 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 44 days on the market. For condos, it was 46. The number of active single-family listings fell 37 percent, while the number of condos on the market edged up 1.3 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 6.8 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands decreased 6.6 percent.

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

GBAR-Southern-Norfolk-Mkt-July

The median selling price for a single-family home rose 8.1 percent, from $495,000 in July 2019 to $535,000 in July 2020. Condo prices increased 14.5 percent, from $299,000 in July 2019 to $342,500 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 34 days on the market. For condos, it was 38. The number of active single-family listings plummeted 35.9 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 11.3 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 17.7 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands decreased 1.3 percent.

City of Boston

GBAR-City-Boston-Mkt-July

The median selling price for a single-family home rose 2.7 percent, from $697,500 in July 2019 to $716,250 in July 2020. Condo prices inched up 0.6 percent, from $660,000 in July 2019 to $663,750 in July 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 34 days on the market. For condos, it was 36. The number of active single-family listings climbed 18 percent, while the number of condos on the market jumped 29 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold dropped 12.3 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands decreased 8.5 percent.

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