Midyear home sales in Mass. are down by a quarter, prices hit all-time highs

Triple and double decker apartment houses along Lamson Street in East Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Triple and double decker apartment houses along Lamson Street in East Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Eager to secure something from the chronically limited and shrinking inventory of homes for sale in Massachusetts, buyers continued last month to set all-time records for sale prices and have helped push the state's housing market into its most expensive territory ever.

"Single-family homes in Massachusetts have never been less affordable," Cassidy Norton, associate publisher and media relations director at the real estate data firm The Warren Group, said.

And while housing is expensive across Massachusetts, The Warren Group's latest report on real estate transactions shows that the situation is even worse when looking at just the 139 communities inside the Interstate 495 belt.

A dilemma of unaffordability that accelerated as the pandemic hit in 2020 has led to housing insecurity for many Bay Staters and puts a damper on the state's efforts to compete against lower-cost spots like Florida, Texas and North Carolina for increasingly mobile residents and workers. Gov. Maura Healey took office in January promising to tackle the "barriers that are holding back our people and our state," like the "out of control" cost of housing.

The new administration's plans for increasing housing production in Massachusetts have not been fully fleshed out, but Ed Augustus was sworn in June 1 as the state's first Cabinet-level housing secretary in about 30 years. Citing an "immediate" and "profound" need, Augustus said his mantra would be "more, faster," as he navigates local resistance to growth, zoning bylaws and ordinances that vary from community to community, and the plodding legislative process that new housing policies could face.

The Warren Group's report on June sales activity showed that sales of both single-family homes and condominiums declined year-over-year in June, down more than 20% and more than 14% respectively. And with intense competition for the relatively scarce inventory of homes and condos for sale, median sale prices reached new all-time highs last month.

There were 5,004 single-family homes sold in Massachusetts in June, down 20.5% from June 2022. The median sale price of a single-family home climbed 1% from last June to the new record high of $612,250, The Warren Group said.

"Despite interest rates nearly double what they were this time last year, the Massachusetts single-family housing market broke another record in June," Norton said. "Last month, the median sale price of $612,250 marked a new all-time high for single-family homes. Just three years ago, single family home sale monthly median prices were consistently below $500,000 and interest rates were hovering around 3%."

Inside I-495, there were 3,331 single-family home sales in June, a 23.3% decrease from last June's sales. The Greater Boston median single-family home sale price was up 2% on a year-over-year basis to $765,000.

Through the first half of 2023, there have been 18,706 single-family home sales across Massachusetts, a drop of 24.3% compared to the first six months of 2022. And the year-to-date median sale price of a single-family home has increased 0.9% compared to the same period in 2022 to $555,000.

The number of Greater Boston single-family home sales is down 25.4% so far this year while the median sale price has remained at $700,000, The Warren Group said.

The story in June was similar for the condo market. Last month's 2,372 condo sales represented a 14.2% decline compared to June 2022, The Warren Group said. Meanwhile, the median sale price increased 1.9%  year-over-year to $545,000, establishing a new all-time high for the statewide median condo price.

"Historically, condos have been a more affordable alternative to single-family homes, but that's no longer necessarily the case," Norton said.

Greater Boston recorded 1,743 condo sales last month, a 16.5% year-over-year drop. Meanwhile, the median condo sale price climbed 2.4% to $635,000.

There have been 9,432 condo sales across the state so far in 2023, a 23.2% decrease from the first six months of 2022. The year-to-date median condo sale price is $510,000, up 2.2% compared to the same stretch of 2022. For Greater Boston, the 6,882 condo sales so far in 2023 represent a 23% decline from the same six months of 2022 while the median sale price has risen 1.7% to $599,900.



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