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Condos more costly than houses in Massachusetts

TIght inventory drives prices upward

Phil Caminti and his wife, Ali Mercier sit with their four week old baby, Quinn, and their dog, Ada, in February inside the new home they just purchased in Lowell.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Time was, a condominium was the affordable alternative to a house. Not so much anymore.

Condos were the more expensive option for Massachusetts home buyers in March, their median price significantly outpacing that for single-family homes, according to two closely watched reports that were issued Wednesday.

Both the Warren Group and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported the median sale price of a condo last month was around $389,000, tens of thousands of dollars more than the midpoint for a house that was purchased in March.

“Today we know that land and square footage might not be the biggest predictor of how much your home is worth,” said Rita Coffey, president of the statewide real group and general manager of Century 21 Tullish & Clancy in Weymouth. “This is why we see condos in hot neighborhoods selling for more than single-family homes statewide.”


A third real estate organization, which follows home sales in the Greater Boston market, found that single-family residences were still the more costly of the two categories, but nonetheless chalked up record high prices for condos. The Greater Boston Association of Realtors reported a median price $547,608 for condos that were purchased in March, and nearly $580,000 for single-family homes.

With more outlying communities in their surveys, the Warren Group reported a median price of $354,000 for single-family homes in March, while the statewide association of real estate brokers pegged house sale prices at $369,000.

The two organizations said prices for condos increased 16 to 20 percent, compared to March 2017, while single-family home prices were up only about 5 percent.

Both groups said condo prices hit record highs in their respective tracking systems. Coffey said the sustained interest by home shoppers to live in or near urban centers is driving the condo market; another explanation for the higher prices is that the mix of properties on the market tilted toward higher end and newer construction.


But the main driver continues to be an acute shortage of any properties for sale. March marked the fourth consecutive month that the number of single-family homes on the market was below 10,000. Meanwhile, at 2,868, the number of condos for sale last month dropped by 30.5 percent year-over-year, according to MAR’s numbers.

With inventory this tight, competition among buyers remains strong. Year-over-year, single-family homes spent an average of 11 fewer days on the market, while condos averaged nine fewer days.

“Unfortunately, new listings are not keeping up with the demand,” Coffey said.

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