Rising inventory lifts home sales 11.4% in June
Buying a home in the Boston area has been a high-stakes competitive sport, marked by packed open houses, pitched bidding wars, and ultimately, disappointment.
That may be slowly changing.
June home sales hit a high mark not seen in a decade, driven by pent-up demand and a surge in new listings. Some brokers say they’ve detected a shift in the market that could signal more opportunities for buyers.
“It has become a little less crazy for buyers,” said Lara Gordon, a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage who works primarily in Cambridge and Somerville. “Instead of competing against 15 to 20 offers, maybe it’s three to five offers.”
The number of single-family homes sold in Massachusetts in June increased by 11.4 percent from June 2014, according to the Warren Group, a real-estate tracking firm. With almost 6,457 sales, it was the largest number of homes sold in any month since August 2005.
Sales of condominiums also rose 15 percent from last year, making June the best month for that market since August 2007, the Warren Group said.
Prices, however, rose more modestly. Statewide, the median sale price for a single-family home was $365,000 in June, a 1.4 percent increase from $359,900 a year earlier. Condo prices increased 2.3 percent in June, to $332,500 from $325,000 last year.
But homes in Greater Boston continued to fetch much higher prices. The median sales price for a single-family home for the more than 55 communities around Boston rose 3.2 percent, to $526,328. The median condominium price climbed by 4.5 percent and topped $459,900, according to a separate report from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.
Significantly, the shortage of homes for sale may finally be easing, which could temper future increases in home prices. In June, for example, the number of home listings that came on the market increased by 11.6 percent.
“Now that you’re seeing more inventory, people are able to find another house,” said Corrine Fitzgerald, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Homeowners who had been reluctant to put their properties on the market are changing their minds.
“It’s a combination of many things,” Fitzgerald said. “Prices have increased some, so people are able to sell. The market is strong and word on the street is that things are selling pretty close to list price. It’s a pretty active market. All of those things are taking people off the fence.”
Real estate agents and industry experts said that last winter’s record snowfall also contributed to the bounce in June sales. Snowstorms on the weekends, leaking roofs, and burst pipes forced sellers to put off listing their homes until they made the necessary repairs.
In fact, during April and May, sales declined statewide, compared with the same period in 2014, said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group.
But once those homes went on the market, they were quickly scooped up by buyers, Warren said.
“For realtors, June is like the Thanksgiving weekend for retailers,” Warren said. “In theory, this might portend a good, strong summer.”
Brokers said they have remained busy into July, when they would otherwise see a slowdown as buyers and sellers take vacations. Sellers are still coming onto the market in the middle of summer, and that’s giving buyers more choices, said Alison Socha, a real estate agent with Re/Max Leading Edge in Melrose.
“We’re heading to a more stable appreciation,” Socha said. “The buyers now are being more cautious. They don’t want to get into major-league bidding wars. They are tired of being the bridesmaid, and they’re feeling that the market has reached the high and that it’s settling.”