Boston area housing market in full spring bloom
The region’s housing market appears to be warming up with the weather.
Home sales in Greater Boston increased by nearly 3 percent in April, compared with the same month last year, according to figures set to be released Wednesday. At the same time, prices on single-family homes rose at a modest clip, and actually fell slightly for condominiums.
It’s the latest sign that the market is stabilizing this spring, with prospective buyers having more options than they did in the drum-tight days of recent years, but with prices rising just enough to keep sellers interested in putting their homes on the market. New listings so far this year are up about 8 percent compared with a year ago, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, and sales have climbed nearly 12 percent.
Still, it’s not exactly a buyer’s market. Inventory remains low by historic standards, with about three months’ worth of supply available at the current sales pace. Steady job growth in the region is fueling a strong demand for homes. Statewide, the median price of a single-family home hit a record high $382,500 last month, according to Boston real estate tracking firm the Warren Group. In Greater Boston, however, the median price was $618,000
“The median sale price for single-family homes has been steadily on the rise for the last three years,” said Warren Group associate publisher Cassidy Norton. “Even with inventory levels improving, I fully expect stiff competition between buyers to keep prices elevated during the upcoming spring and summer months.”
One wrinkle is a split that has emerged this spring between prices for single-family houses and condos. While house prices continued to rise — they were up 1.2 percent in Greater Boston in April compared with April 2018 — condo prices dropped 5.8 percent. Real estate experts said that was due in part to a spate of luxury buildings that opened last spring, inflating prices a year ago.
The “median condo sale price has now declined on a year-over-year basis for three consecutive months,” Norton said. “I don’t view this trend as a softening in the market, but rather a return to normalcy.”
Indeed, more high-end condo sales are on the horizon. The first unit at One Dalton closed Monday, according to Suffolk County property records, with a condo on the 26th floor of the 61-story Back Bay building selling for $4.7 million. With the tower opening later this spring, there are 159 more closings to go at One Dalton. That, plus the Seaport District’s just-opened Pier Four, and other high-end condo buildings, could drive prices upward in the coming months.
For those not shopping for a multimillion dollar condo, Greater Boston remains a challenging place to buy a home. Price growth may have slowed, but prices show no sign of actually falling. Inventory is up, but not by much. And a tenuous sense of stability could vanish quickly if sellers retreat to the sidelines, said Anne Meczywor, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.
“We need more new listings added to the market to meet demand going forward,” she said.