Massachusetts homebuyers set record price for February


In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 photo a sign is posted near a newly constructed home in Natick, Mass. On Thursday, March 14, the Commerce Department reports on sales of new homes in January. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Single-family home buyers in Massachusetts established a new record median sale price for the month of February: $365,000.

The record, which marked a 7.4 percent increase over the median sale price last February, did not discourage buying as sales for the month rose 8.7 percent over February 2018, The Warren Group reported.

“Massachusetts single-family home prices continue to set records as demand remains strong while supply is tight,” Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group, said in a statement. “The last time the median sale price declined on a year-over-year basis was in March 2016. Furthermore, February’s increase in median price was the biggest percentage gain in four years.”

Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders have long been mulling new policies to increase the overall supply of housing and impose new affordability requirements, but a major housing policy bill remains mostly stalled out on Beacon Hill where lawmakers have wrestled with the complexity of local zoning.
February condo sales were up 6.2 percent but the median condo sale price was down 2 percent to $343,000, The Warren Group said.

“Condo sales normally reach their low in any given year in February,” Warren said. “It has yet to be seen if that will be the case in 2019, but the slight uptick last month shows that buyers aren’t being scared off by historically high sale prices.”

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported separately on Wednesday that the number of condos for sale in Massachusetts increased for the second straight month in February and only the second time in the last nearly three years.

The inventory of single-family homes for sale last month was down 9.5 percent compared to February 2018, marking a decrease in the year-over-year inventory for 84 of the last 85 months, according to the association.

Median home sale prices vary widely across Massachusetts

At $365,000, the year-to-date median home sale price in Massachusetts is up 4.9 percent over last year and raising eyebrows among buyers, sellers and those left on the outside of the market activity.
But data released Wednesday shows sellers are getting far higher prices in many areas while buyers have been able to purchase homes for much less in others, largely based around proximity to the Greater Boston area.

According to the Warren Group, year-to-date median home sale prices fell under the $365,000 statewide median in seven of the state’s 14 counties.

Berkshire County

  • $182,500, -2.9 percent (The lowest year-to-date median home sale price)

Hampden County

  • $187,000, +5.7 percent

Franklin County

  • $210,000, +11.4 percent

Hampshire County

  • $255,000, +3.7 percent

Worcester County: $260,000, +3.1 percent

Bristol County: $289,000, +5.1 percent

Plymouth County: $363,406, +8.3 percent

While prices are lower, living in those counties presents commuting challenges for workers whose employers are based in the job-rich Boston area. Traffic congestion and sometimes unreliable MBTA service are factors to consider for homebuyers, as well as opportunities they might have to work remotely, which can reduce time spent traveling back and forth to work.

The highest year-to-date median home sale prices, in counties that are not islands, are in Suffolk County ($520,000, +1 percent), Middlesex County ($508,000, +2.1 percent), Norfolk County ($490,000, +7.7 percent), Essex County ($430,000, +7.5 percent), and Barnstable County ($390,000, +3.7 percent).

The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard operate in their own real estate world.
The median year-to-date home sale price in Dukes County, or Martha’s Vineyard, is $695,000, up 6.9 percent. The median home sale price on Nantucket so far this year is $1.6 million, up 7.2 percent, although there have been just 14 sales.

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