Greater Boston’s housing market is starting to show the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with single-family homes becoming ever-more expensive and scarce while the condominium market softens.
The median price for a single-family home sold in the region in June climbed 4.5 percent, to $679,075 — compared with the same month last year ― according to numbers out Wednesday from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. That’s an all-time high. Condo prices, however, dipped 4.4 percent to $592,500, for the same period.
The figures reflect a burgeoning split in the market, with buyers looking for more spacious and suburban homes, while condos, especially at higher price points, stay on the market longer. Real estate agents and others who watch Boston’s housing market say they’ve seen more first-time buyers looking to move out of small city apartments into suburban homes during the pandemic, while two pillars of the downtown condo market — foreign buyers and empty-nesters looking to move from the suburbs — have grown more rare.
The number of sales continued to slump in both categories, with the fewest single-family home sales recorded in June in nearly a quarter-century. Inventory has fallen sharply, especially for single-family homes. That, along with low interest rates, is propping up prices despite the struggling economy, said GBAR president Jason Gell, an agent with RE/MAX Unlimited in Brookline.
“We continue to see strong upward pressure on prices, particularly in the starter home and mid-priced single-family markets where the imbalance between supply and demand is most extreme,” Gell said. “In this environment, we are not going to see a price correction or much softening even as the sales pace slows.”
Whether those prices will prompt would-be sellers to list their houses is unclear.
Inventory, long a challenge in the Greater Boston market, slumped this spring as people decided to stay put during the pandemic. Since then, real estate agents have worked through some the complications of showing homes and closing deals in this era of social distancing, but sellers have only trickled back into the market. New listings for single-family homes, GBAR said, climbed just 2.4 percent from last June, though condo listings are up 20 percent. Gell said he’s hopeful for something that more resembles a normal market as the summer winds on.
“Our challenge these past few months has not been a lack of buyers,” he said. “Although we lost much of the spring market, we think the summer months will be much busier than normal due to pent-up demand and a steady influx of new listings.”