Business & Tech

Record-low number of homes for sale drives prices up

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press/File

In what may be a bit of good news for the real estate market, the number of homes sold in Massachusetts in October actually increased over the the same time last year, bucking a trend where fewer and fewer properties change hands.

Any positives from that, though, might be cancelled out by another compelling figure released Tuesday about the housing market in October: the number of properties listed for sale hit a record low for that month of the year, adding to the pressures that have resulted in ever-higher prices.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that sales of both single-family homes and condominiums in October, typically a slow time of year as the fall market comes to an end, jumped around 6 percent each compared to the same month in 2016. But inventory for condos and houses were each down more than 25 percent.

Advertisement

Home prices, meanwhile, continued a familiar trajectory: up. The median sale price of a single-family home jumped to $375,000, up 5.5 percent compared to October, 2016, according to the latest figures. The median price for condominiums was $339,700, up 4 percent, the real estate organization said.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“When you look at sales and look at the inventory, everybody is pretty happy in terms of the fact that buyers are still buying and sellers are still selling,” said Paul Yorkis, president of the real estate group. Higher sales and prices, he said, are “really good for sellers, not so good for buyers and we’re obviously concerned about that.”

With the market continuing to be plagued by few available properties, homes that were listed at a “very attractive price bracket” last month sold almost immediately, Yorkis said. He acknowledged that such fast transactions make it difficult for his organization to understand how those listings impacted overall inventory because they didn’t stay on the market long enough.

On average, single-family homes spent 14 fewer days on the market in October compared to last year. Condos spent an average 10 fewer days on the market.

The ongoing trend continues to hurt first-time home buyers, who are getting priced out of the market, as well as people who want to downsize because they can’t find a replacement home, said Yorkis, who also operates Patriot Real Estate in Medway.

Advertisement

“When you go through Boston you see the cranes for luxury condominiums, which is fine, but that’s not helping the first-time condo buyers,” he said. “And in the suburbs, there isn’t enough new construction of condominiums and single-family homes. And that’s the challenge right now — the public is being hurt because they don’t have a diverse housing stock to choose from.”

Yorkis said the market in November appears to have slowed down in parts of the state—except in the Boston area.

“We’re still seeing multiple offers and a good attendance at open houses,” he said. “And that’s good. But I’m still concerned about those first-time home buyers.”

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.