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Mass. home prices fell last month, but it's still not a buyer's market

A real estate brokerage sign stands in front of a house in Norwood, Mass. in 2020. (Steven Senne/AP)
A real estate brokerage sign stands in front of a house in Norwood, Mass. in 2020. (Steven Senne/AP)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here


Good Morning Boston,

Hope you enjoyed yesterday’s perfect-for-snowmen snow! Forecasters are already preparing for another winter storm later this week, though it looks like flakes will only fall in northern parts of Massachusetts.

For those counting, here are the official snowfall totals across New England from this weekend’s storm.

Now, to the news:

The median sales price of homes in Massachusetts fell last month, but that doesn’t mean the outlook is rosy for buyers. According to a new report this morning from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, fewer homeowners are willing to sell in the area’s already-tight housing market. Last month’s data showed that 3,648 single-family homes were sold in the Bay State, a 30% drop from December 2022. Condo sales were also down 35% compared to the prior December.

  • Driving the trend? Well, have you seen those interest rates? MAR President David McCarthy says homeowners seem “unwilling to give up the historically low rates they locked in” on the mortgages during recent years. Now, after over a half-dozen interest rate hikes in 2022, those potential sellers are waiting for things to improve before putting their home up for sale.
  • Another underlying factor: McCarthy says the surge in home sales during the pandemic means there are less people currently looking to move. “It almost feels like we’ve stolen sellers from the future,” he told WBUR’s newscast team.
  • High interest rates are also eating into the one positive trend for buyers: lower prices. Average home and condo sales prices dropped last month to $535,000 and $453,800, respectively, compared to November. However, interest rates have added hundreds of dollars to mortgage payments, dimming buyers’ purchasing power.
  • McCarthy says the answer to the problem is fairly simple: Massachusetts needs to build more houses to meet demand.

Bay State College, a troubled for-profit college with campuses in Boston and Taunton, is preparing to lose its accreditation this summer, according to a letter obtained by the Boston Business Journal. The 76-year-old school was placed on probation last year by the New England Commission on Higher Education due to concerns about hefty financial losses and declines in enrollment, as well as allegations of fraud. According to the BBJ report, the college is now poised to lose its accreditation in August.

  • What does that means for students? Without accreditation, Bay State College’s interim president, Jeff Mason, told students that the school won’t be able to disburse federal financial aid.

PSA for parents and guardians: Boston is offering an incentive to help residents save for their children’s futures. In 2019, the city launched a program called “Boston Saves,” which gives each new Boston Public Schools kindergartner $50 in a savings account to begin building for college or career training. (All current BPS students in kindergarten through third grade are eligible for the program.)

  • The new perk: Parents who log into “Boston Saves” for the first time before the end of January will get an extra $25 in their child’s account. And they can earn additional “Boston Saves Dollars” by doing things like reading with their child. Learn more about the program here.

P.S. — Act fast if you’re planning a summer trip to Nantucket. Ferry reservations for the summer season (May 18 to Oct. 23) are now open to the general public, and Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll tells WBUR’s Dave Faneuf that those prime holiday and weekend slots fill up quickly. General reservations for Martha’s Vineyard trips open next Tuesday.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Twitter Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.

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