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Massachusetts condo, single-family sales slump at the end of summer as prices rise

Also, the inventory of available homes was down sharply—are sellers sitting out the economic uncertainty?

A row of three-story houses close together. Shutterstock

Sharp drops in the number of available homes for sale and slight increases in prices led to sales declines in the Massachusetts housing market in August, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

Single-family sales were down 3.8 percent from August 2018, to 6,221, as the median sales price increased 2.9 percent annually, to $430,000. That’s the highest median since the association began tracking it in 2004. Meanwhile, inventory—the amount of single-families buyers could choose from—was down 19.8 precent, with new listings down 11.1 percent.

As for condos statewide, sales were down 9.4 percent annually in August, to 2,249, as the median price rose 3.1 percent, to $400,000—again, the fourth highest since the realtors association started tracking these numbers in 2004. Condo inventory was down 5.5 percent and new listings down 11.3 percent.

The inventory declines might be a one-off, according to Anne Meczywor, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and a broker at Roberts & Associates Realty in Lenox. Condo inventory in particular had been robust for a while.

“Seven straight months of condo inventory going up was a good run,” Meczywor said. “Hopefully, this was just a one-month blip and the positive trend will continue.”

The inventory declines could also signal a wariness in potential sellers to list in a market riven with uncertainty over larger economic trends such as whether 2020 will bring a recession. Whatever the sentiment of sellers, the latest inventory numbers highlight once again the plight of prospective buyers: They’re one more thing adding to the general costliness of buying in Massachusetts.

“Median home prices were once again over $400,000 in August,” Meczywor said. “This means we had another difficult month for first-time homebuyers who were looking for a home they could afford in Massachusetts.”