The region’s housing market remained red hot into the fall season, with prices and sales surging in September as would-be buyers scrambled to find new places to live.
That’s according to data from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, which said the median price of a single-family home surged 12.4 percent to $680,000, a record for the month. Sales also increased at a record clip, up 32.3 percent, compared with the same month last year, another sign of pent-up demand caused by spring shutdowns now causing frenzied activity.
While not quite as supercharged as the single-family house market, condominium sales were also strong in September. Sales volume jumped 19 percent, while the median price climbed 7.7 percent, to $592,500.
Both were driven by strong demand from buyers looking for places with more room as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their buying power has been bolstered by historically low mortgage interest rates ― still below 3 percent ― and a robust stock market that is adding to individuals' wealth.
But the housing stock remains sparse, which is driving up prices as would-be buyers compete for desirable properties. The number of single-family homes available for sale was down 29 percent, compared with September 2019. At the current pace of buying, inventory would run out in just six weeks; a “balanced” market has six months' worth of homes available.
Condominium supply is a bit better, with the number of listings up 27 percent as some condo owners look to trade up to houses, even as suburban empty-nesters — a pillar of Boston’s condo market — are more likely to stay put in the suburbs, at least for now. The added inventory hasn’t yet dampened prices, which climbed to a record high for September. But condo prices are falling in some slices of the market, and that could spread more broadly if demand fades in the winter.
So far, though, there has been little sign of a slowdown.
While the Massachusetts economy has shed more than 400,000 jobs since March, those losses have been concentrated in lower-wage industries and have had a bigger effect on the rental market. Higher-paying jobs, particularly those that can be done from home, have remained stable. Those well-paid professionals, working and sometimes schooling their children at home, are looking for more space and accelerating long-planned moves to the suburbs. That has powered the market ever higher, despite a broad economy laid low by COVID-19.
How long it will stay so hot, however, is something even seasoned real estate pros can only guess at in this most unusual year.