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Massachusetts home sales stayed hot in January

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A home in Burlington
A home in Burlington. The Boston Globe

The resurgent real estate market that bloomed late last spring has shown no sign of letting up, remaining red-hot through the cold depths of winter.

There were 3,824 single-family home sales across Massachusetts in January, according to real estate analytics firm The Warren Group. That marked an 8.7 increase over a year ago, and the most January sales in over 20 years. The median price of a Massachusetts single-family, meanwhile, increased 12.7 percent over a year ago, from $398,700 to $445,000, a new all-time high for January.

“That was the sixth straight month where we’ve had double-digit increases in median prices across the whole state,” said Warren Group chief executive Tim Warren. “It’s really surprising, given the fact that we have high unemployment, and we’re in a pandemic.”

Those who are still employed, however, have had few options to spend discretionary income in the past year.

“They can’t imagine what they could spend their money on because they don’t want to get on an airplane or go into a restaurant, so I think the savings is there,” Warren said.

And with interest rates so low, homebuyers have more purchasing power, while the returns on savings accounts and bonds are quite low.

“So in some ways it’s a case of money looking for a home, in a home,” he added.

Sales in Berkshire County accelerated 20 percent over January 2020, though prices advanced a more modest 4.4 percent. (View the Warren Group’s county-by-county data here.)

“The surprise for me this past month was that Worcester County did very very well. The median price was up almost 19 percent,” Warren said. If people are looking for more affordable homes, and expect they may only need to commute to Boston one or two days a week going forward, they may feel comfortable buying that far out.”

Sales in Barnstable County matched the statewide uptick of 8.7 percent, but the median price of a Cape Cod single-family rose an astonishing 26.6 percent year over year in January, from $399,000 to $505,000.

Meanwhile, the 1,686 condo sales statewide marked a 10.3 percent jump over January 2020. And while median condo prices inched up just 0.3 percent year over year, from $399,000 to $400,000, that still marked an all-time high for January.

In Suffolk County, which includes Boston, the median price of a condo fell 5.9 percent, from $679,000 to $638,750. The median price of a downtown condo fell a dramatic 30.9 percent year over year, from $1,286,625 to $889,100. (View the Warren Group’s town-by-town data here.)

Condo sales jumped 28 percent in Middlesex County in January, but despite the flurry of activity, the median condo price slipped 5.6 percent versus a year ago. Condo prices in Cambridge and Somerville dipped 9.3 percent and 16.9 percent, respectively, compared with January 2020.

The increased sales volume is all the more extraordinary because there hasn’t been that much for sale: Single-family inventory hit record lows in January, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, down 64 percent versus a year ago.

“People are putting their homes on the market, but they’re getting gobbled up quickly,” Warren said.