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Boston homes sales drop sharply in early fall as prices rise

What’s going on then in the city? It looks like buyers are on the sidelines, just like buyers across the region

A row of rowhouses along a city street. Shutterstock

The number of Boston home sales dropped sharply at the start of fall as prices increased. That is according to recent figures for closed deals in October from real estate research firm the Warren Group and the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.

The number of single-family sales in the city declined 42 percent annually in October and 23 percent from September, to 51. The number of condo sales was down 33.5 percent, to 206, compared with October 2018, and down 34 percent from September.

At the same time—and perhaps not coincidentally—prices were up. The median single-family sales price was $635,000 in October, up 4.1 percent annually and nearly.5.9 percent monthly. The median condo sales price was $667,500, up 8.5 percent annually and 3.5 precent monthly.

The average sales price per square foot was up annually for both, too, to $416 for single-families and to $773 for condos.

What’s it all mean? The wider regional housing market appears to be tilting in buyers’ favor after years (and years). That’s due to beefier inventory and to potential buyers watching from the sidelines as prices fluctuate. Jim Major, president of the realtors association and an agent with Century 21 North East in Woburn, said these buyers had basically adopted “a wait-and-see attitude until prices settle.”

Conditions look similar in Boston proper. The number of active condo listings, for instance, was up 12 percent annually in October (though the same figure for single-families was down 23.5 percent). Both types saw the number of months of supply of homes rise steeply.

It all suggests that for prospective buyers in Boston, timing is still everything given the city’s prices. Can you blame them?