As this pandemic year comes to a close, Greater Boston’s housing market just keeps roaring along.
Figures released Tuesday by the Greater Boston Association of Realtors show home sales in the region remained steady in November, while prices surged again to record levels. The median price for a single-family home in the 64 communities GBAR tracks hit $700,000, up 16.9 percent from November 2019. It was the fourth time in five months that number was $700,000 or more, a median price the region had never before reached.
Condominium prices rose more modestly last month, up 2.5 percent to a median of $579,000.
Sales volume for both single-family homes and condos kept increasing as buyers caught up from a slow spring and early summer when much of the housing market shut down because of COVID-19.
“This has been one of the most active fall housing markets we’ve ever seen locally,” said GBAR’s president, Jason Gell, an agent with RE/MAX Unlimited in Brookline. “With the economy on the rebound, mortgage rates still very attractive, and strong demand from both millennial first-time buyers as well as those looking to trade up for more living space or a home in the suburbs due to the pandemic, we’ve seen more buyer traffic than normal.”
And while demand is up, supply remains tight. The number of single-family homes on the market was down 31 percent in November, compared with the same month last year, and a home sold in just 33 days, on average, three weeks faster than a year ago earlier.
That’s forcing buyers to move fast and make higher offers, which is part of why prices are rising so quickly, Gell said.
“There’s a lot upward pressure on prices right now,” he said. “Especially in the suburban starter and trade-up home markets where listings are at a premium, many homes are selling at or above asking price because buyers are competing with multiple offers and paying top dollar to get the property.”
In more urban areas where condos dominate, the dynamic is different. Prices are still climbing, but not nearly as fast, and the supply is more plentiful. The number of condos on the market was up 67 percent in Boston and neighboring communities in the core of the region. For some prospective buyers, Gell said, that could mean a rare chance to find a deal.
“The downtown Boston and Cambridge condo markets, as well as the immediate suburbs, offer some of the best home-buying opportunities at the moment,” he said. “Prices have stabilized and even declined in some communities.”
How long this trend will last is anyone’s guess.
Major real estate groups in recent weeks have predicted that strong price growth will continue in 2021, though at a less frenzied pace than this year. But gradually rising interest rates will erode buying power, particularly for first-time buyers, who haven’t benefited from surging equity this year.
And much depends on knocking down COVID-19 and a broader economic recovery. If that goes well, economists at Zillow said this week, next year could be even busier.
Tim Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.