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With fewer homes on the market in Mass., prices soared in July

The median cost of a single-family house increased by 8.4 percent compared with the same month last year.

Elaine Thompson/AP/file

Massachusetts’ housing market remained brutal for buyers during the peak of summer, according to figures released Tuesday.

The median price of a single-family home in the state surged 8.4 percent, to $475,000, in July, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Condominium prices jumped 6 percent, to a median of $423,500.

The higher prices come amid a severe shortage of inventory, as many would-be sellers decided against putting their home on the market because of the pandemic. The number of single-family houses for sale was down by more than half, compared with the same month last year, leaving prospective buyers few choices and stiff competition.

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“Inventory levels for single-family homes are at historic lows this month,” said MAR president Kurt Thompson, broker at Keller Williams Realty North Central in Leominster. “Realtors are negotiating multiple offers for their buyers and sellers.”

Despite rising prices, demand remains strong, driven by several factors. Interest rates are low, with the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage below 3 percent last week. Also, spring coronavirus shutdowns compressed and delayed the usual homebuying season this year. And some renters, weary of quarantining in cramped apartments, have accelerated plans to buy a house and settle down.

How long those trends will last, and how long they might outweigh the broader economic damage being wrought by the pandemic, is unclear. Thompson said he’s seeing signs that the market will remain strong at least for the next few months.

“The market for buyers shows little sign of diminishing,” he said. “We anticipate high buyer activity into the late summer and early fall.”


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.