Home prices continued surging to new highs in April, with the median price of a Massachusetts single-family home topping the half-million-dollar mark for the first time ever, according to real estate analytics firm The Warren Group.
The median price of a Bay State single-family home was $508,000 in April (meaning half of all houses statewide that sold went for more than $508,000, and half went for less). That represents an 18.1 percent increase from a year ago and an astonishing 32.6 percent jump over April 2019, when the median-priced Massachusetts single-family home sold for $383,000.
“It’s a little scary in terms of affordability,” said Warren Group chief executive Timothy Warren. “For millennials and longtime renters who would like to own, it must feel defeating to see their savings account growing at 0.3 percent a year while housing prices are growing at almost 20 percent a year.”
If you’re wondering what an 18.1 percent year-over-year increase looks like in real-world terms, just look at Natick, where prices advanced at the same pace as the statewide average. In April 2020, the median price of a single-family home in Natick was $645,000; by last month, it had jumped by more than $115,000, to $761,500. (See town by town data here.)
Cape Cod, meanwhile, continued to see some of the most dramatic price increases in the state. The median price of a Barnstable County single-family home rose 29.2 percent year over year, from $429,500 in April 2020 to $555,000 last month. (See county by county data here.)
Buyer demand remained strong, with the 4,517 single-family home sales in April marking an all-time record for the month, according to The Warren Group report. Indeed, while more than 6,700 new single-family listings hit the market statewide in April, according to a report by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, that was hardly enough to sate the appetite of eager house hunters. There’s still less than a month’s supply of single-family homes for sale, according to the MAR.
The number of single-family home sales was up 21.1 percent over April 2020, but real estate activity saw a precipitous slowdown in the early months of the pandemic, making it difficult to compare year-over-year sales figures, Warren said.
“The pandemic really flipped all parts of the economy into panic mode in the second quarter of last year,” Warren said. “So we decided to go back and compare the number of sales with April of 2019 also, and it was still up 5.2 percent — and 2019 was a good year in real estate. That’s a more realistic comparison.”
Interestingly, Warren added, while sales numbers sank during the early days of the pandemic, prices never did. “We haven’t had a monthly decline in the median price for single-family homes in something like five years,” he said.
Median condominium prices in Massachusetts also set a new record, reaching $475,000 in April — a 12.3 percent increase from a year ago and a 28.4 percent jump over April 2019.
With cities reopening and COVID cases dwindling, condo sales seemed to catch fire last month: The 2,530 units sold statewide marked not just a 55.9 percent increase over last year’s eerily quiet April, but also a 27.3 percent increase over the healthy spring market of April 2019. “I’d say people are anticipating a no-mask lifestyle by the time they get moved in,” Warren said.
“We haven’t had a monthly decline in the median price for single-family homes in something like five years.” — TIM WARREN, The Warren Group
In Suffolk County, which encompasses all of Boston as well as Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, median condo prices were up 2.9 percent in April, to $670,000. Median condo prices were still down versus a year ago in Somerville, Brookline, Downtown, and South Boston. But the median price of a Dorchester condo rose 11.9 percent from a year ago, to $545,000, and condo prices were up 24.2 percent in East Boston, to $655,000.
Real estate prices have been soaring all over the country, with the median price of an existing home gaining 17.2 percent year-over-year in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. But Warren says he isn’t too concerned about a new real estate bubble forming, mostly because he doubts these rapid price increases can be sustained throughout 2021.
“Two years of double-digit price increases, that’s a little concerning,” Warren said. “I don’t think it will continue all year. But three or four years of double-digit price growth? That would be risky.”
Jon Gorey blogs about homes at HouseandHammer.com. Send comments to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jongorey. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.