Nine hundred thousand dollars.
That was the median price for single-family homes sold last month in Greater Boston, the latest milestone for our impossibly tight real estate market.
Nine hundred thousand dollars, the price at which half the homes sold for less and half sold for more.
Nine hundred thousand dollars, an increase of 2.9 percent from the median price in May and 11 percent higher than in June 2021, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.
Nine hundred thousand dollars. It seems more outrageous when you spell it out, right? The median condo price, meanwhile, hit $700,000. Wow.
Yet even as prices climbed to new records, other data released on Tuesday by the realtors group suggested that the market may be leveling off. That’s not a mistake. With steeper mortgage rates pricing out so many prospective buyers, market fundamentals are starting to weaken.
Consider: The number of single-family homes sold in June — typically the busiest month for closings around here — fell 9.1 percent from a year earlier despite a more than 30 percent surge in active listings. Consider: The premium paid over asking price slipped to 7.6 percent from 9 percent. Consider: Pending sales fell 10 percent.
Comparable metropolitan areas, including Austin, Denver, and Portland, are seeing similar trends. Agents and analysts expect inventories of homes for sale to continue to expand as buyers back away, taking some of the pressure off prices here and in many other markets that surged during the pandemic.
“We are seeing a significant change in inventory, and maybe a pickup in new listings,” real estate blogger Bill McBride, who monitors 35 markets across the country, wrote earlier this week. “So far, most of the increase in inventory has been due to softer demand — likely because of higher mortgage rates — but we need to keep an eye on new listings too.”
A rise in new listings would indicate that more homeowners want to sell before conditions get worse.
The Massachusetts market — with its dearth of new construction and a glut of zoning restrictions — isn’t quite there yet. After increasing in May, new single-family listings statewide dipped 3.6 percent last month, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. The state’s median sale price rose 9.4 percent to a record $629,000. Active and new listings declined.
Of course, the Greater Boston market — which comprises 64 communities inside the I-495 belt — is no monolith.
- In central Middlesex county — including Acton, Concord, Lexington, Wayland, and Weston — the median price for a single-family home surged 19 percent to $1.2 million.
- In metro Boston — including Brookline, Cambridge, Everett, Newton, and Revere — the median price was $975,000, up a more modest 5.3 percent.
- And in towns west and south of Boston — including Avon, Canton, Foxboro, Norwood, Sharon, and Westwood — the median price rose 6.9 percent to $680,000.
But mortgage rates have spiked throughout the state. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is about 5.6 percent, according to data from Bankrate.com.
Using a standard 20 percent down payment on the $900,000 median price in Greater Boston, the monthly mortgage payment would be $4,130, not including property taxes and homeowners insurance. That’s up 50 percent from a year ago, when the median price was $811,500, interest rates were 3 percent, and the monthly tab would have been about $2,740.
With affordability plunging, house hunters are reconsidering their search criteria.
“The buyers’ whole mindset is shifting,” Melvin Vieira Jr., president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, said in an interview. “I’m seeing shifts in the types of properties and locations they are looking at. Some people are putting off buying decisions.”
The bottom line, Vieira said: “Prices are going to even themselves out.”