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Massachusetts saw a sharp decline in condo sales in May amid COVID-19 lockdowns

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04/12/2016 -Boston, MA- Boston skyline viewed from the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina in East Boston, MA on April 12, 2016. The Tuesday forecast calls for rain with highs in the 50s.  (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff) section: Metro reporter:
In the city of Boston, the number of condos that changed hands decreased 48.9 percent. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Amid state COVID-19 restrictions, condo and single-family home sales in Massachusetts took a hit last month, according to reports released Wednesday.

But that didn’t stop prices from climbing.

The state saw a 45.5 percent year-over-year drop in condo sales in May, but the median sales price edged up 0.3 percent to $402,500, according to a report by The Warren Group, a data analytics firm and publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

“Historically, the local condo market is heavily driven by activity in urban centers, like Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Coincidentally, these areas had some of the strictest quarantine guidelines in the state last month, which seems to have been a major contributor to the statewide decline in condo sales,” said Tim Warren, Warren Group CEO.

Warren-Group-Condo-Sales-May

The single-family home market didn’t take as big a hit. There were 3,975 single-family home sales in May, a 30.1 percent drop when compared with the number of homes that changed hands in May 2019, but there was a 3.2 percent year-over-year increase in the median sales price to $423,000 — a high for the month, according to the report.

“The unique combination of a slowdown in economic activity and widespread concerns about the safety of venturing away from home, paired with a lack of inventory, resulted in the fewest number of single-family home sales in the month of May since 2011,” Warren said. “The statewide COVID-19 lockdown took a serious toll on the real estate market on all fronts. From the ability for prospective buyers to attend open houses to sellers’ willingness to relocate during uncertain times, no aspect of real estate was immune to effects of the lockdown last month.”

A report the Greater Boston Association of Realtors released Wednesday saw condo sales volume drop by nearly half (48.6 percent) over the past 12 months: “Last month was the slowest for condo sales since May 2001, when 522 condos sold, and the percentage decline in sales is the largest in the last two decades, topping the 38.6 percent decline in sales between November 2009 and November 2010.” In central and eastern Middlesex County alone, the number of condo sales dropped more than 52 percent, according to the report.

Sales of single-family homes in Greater Boston also plummeted, declining 32.8 percent year over year in May and falling from a record high for May of 1,323 homes sold a year ago to just 889 last month.  

 “There’s no question the housing market took a hit from the pandemic, but we don’t believe the downturn represents the start of a lasting market shift.  Instead, we see it as a short, quick adjustment that postponed our traditional spring market,” said Jason Gell, association president and an agent with RE/Max Unlimited in Brookline. 

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-Numbers
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

Foot traffic was severely slowed for six to eight weeks from mid-March to mid-May over fears of spreading the virus and government orders restricting property access, but buyer interest and demand never waned; it was just put on hold, Gell said. “Market activity has been rising steadily since mid-May as we’ve adjusted to showing homes virtually and in-person with the necessary safety precautions. We expect most buyers who had to delay their house-hunting plans this spring to return, and that should make for a busy market this summer.” 

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 6.5 percent drop in the median single-family selling price, from $840,000 in May 2019 to $785,000 in May 2020. Condo prices jumped 16.5 percent, from $420,575 in May 2019 to $490,000 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 44 days on the market. For condos, it was 39. The number of active single-family listings was down 38 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 36.3 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 16.8 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands plummeted 52.6 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-CMiddlesex
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

Eastern Middlesex
BurlingtonMaldenMedfordMelrose, North Reading, ReadingStonehamWakefieldWilmingtonWinchester, and Woburn 

These communities saw a 7.7 percent increase in the median single-family selling price, from $585,000 in May 2019 to $630,000 in May 2020. Condo prices rose slightly, 0.5 percent, from $457,500 in May 2020 to $459,748 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 32 days on the market. Condos were on for 36 days on average. The number of active single-family listings was down 43.8 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 7.3 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 42 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands dropped 52.3 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-EMiddlesex
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

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

The median selling price for a single-family home slipped 2.3 percent, from $757,500 in May 2019 to $740,289 in May 2020. Condo prices dropped 5.7 percent, from $679,000 in May 2019 to $640,000 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 37 days on the market. For condos, that number was 39. The number of active single-family listings was down 24.7 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 17.5 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 41.8 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands dropped 48.5 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-MetroBoston
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

Metrowest
AshlandDoverFraminghamHollistonHopkintonMedfieldMedwayMillisNatickNeedhamSherborn, and Wellesley

The median selling price for a single-family home edged up 5.1 percent, from $680,000 in May 2019 to $715,000 in May 2020. Condo prices dropped 14.4 percent, from $450,000 in May 2019 to $385,000 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 48 days on the market. For condos, it was 46. The number of active single-family listings was down 34.3 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 9.7 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold went down 21.1 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands plummeted 47.2 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-Metrowest
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

Southern Norfolk County
AvonBellinghamCantonFoxboroughFranklinMansfieldNorfolkNorwood, Randolph, SharonStoughtonWalpoleWestwood, and Wrentham

The median selling price for a single-family home rose 6.9 percent, from $472,250 in May 2019 to $505,000 in May 2020. Condo prices dipped 8.1 percent, from $340,000 in May 2019 to $312,500 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 35 days on the market. For condos, it was 42 days. The number of active single-family listings was down 39.6 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 24.8 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold was down 34.6 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands fell 43.2 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-SNorfolk
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

City of Boston

The median selling price for a single-family home was up 2.3 percent, from $662,500 in May 2019 to $677,500 in May 2020. Condo prices dipped 7 percent, from $675,000 in May 2019 to $627,500 in May 2020. Single-family homes spent an average of 34 days on the market. For condos, it was 41. The number of active single-family listings was down 26.4 percent, while the number of condos on the market dropped 14.2 percent. The number of single-family homes that sold fell 49 percent, while the number of condos that changed hands decreased 48.9 percent.

Greater-Boston-Market-May-GBAR-CityofBoston
. —Greater Boston Association of Realtors

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