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Boston home sales and prices surged at the end of 2019—so what?

The city’s real estate market still appears to be turning in buyers’ favor after years of frenzied competition and escalating askings

The top two floors of an apartment building with bow windows. Shutterstock

Boston condo and single-family sales and prices increased at the end of 2019, but the city’s housing market still appears to be shifting in favor of buyers.

The median sales price for a detached single-family in Boston proper in December was $625,000, up 10.6 percent from the year before and 4.2 percent from November, according to a report from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors (GBAR) and the Warren Group, a local research firm. Sales were up 22.7 percent annually and 17.9 percent monthly, to 92.

As for condos, the median sales prices was $705,000 in December, up 11 percent from December 2018 and 9.3 percent from November. Sales were up 26.1 percent annually and 16.1 percent monthly, to 357.

The jumps certainly benefited sellers—and brokers—but Jason Gell, GBAR’s president and a broker with Keller Williams, has suggested that the December surges were due more to strong overall economic conditions and to a rise in the number of listings in the fall.

That listings uptick was already reversing itself before the end of 2019, according to the report, which tracked closed deals in Boston and the wider region. The number of active single-family listings in Boston proper was down 36.2 percent annually in December, and the number of active condo listings off 14.7 percent.

The months of supply of inventory—that is, the number of months it would take to absorb all available condo or single-family housing stock in Boston—was also down significantly year to year in December.

In a release on the report, GBAR’s Gell called these lower inventories “the largest obstacle to ensuring our housing market remains healthy this year.” Without a deep bench, it will be more difficult for the local housing market to play at the same level as in the past. In the long run, that should mean lower prices and less frenzied competition—what some have delicately labeled a market correction. Stay tuned.