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Massachusetts housing inventory drops amid coronavirus

A new report shows declines in key measures of just how many options buyers have—meanwhile, sales decline too

The exteriors of three apartment buildings in Boston. The center facade has orange brick. The facade on the left is red brick. The facade on the right is tan and white. Shutterstock

Last month saw the lowest number of homes for sale in Massachusetts for any March stretching back to at least 2004, part of the real estate fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic as would-be homesellers wait on the sidelines.

That is according to new statistics from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, which found steep drops in the inventories of available houses and condos for sale in the commonwealth. The inventory for houses was down 32.9 percent in March compared with the same month in 2019, and the inventory for condos was down 27.8 percent.

Other supply measures, including the number of new listings of houses and condos, were also way down from the year before. The drops were not unexpected. A recent report from listings site Zillow showed similar sharp inventory declines for the Boston area specifically.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, home sales in Massachusetts were also down in March—by 1.1 percent for houses and by 2.7 percent for condos. At the same time, median prices were both up year over year—by 6.5 percent, to $416,000, for houses; and by 14.3 percent, to $428,500 for condos.

But it’s that inventory decline that everyone’ll notice, including the realtors association itself, which is counting on demand to carry the industry through.

“There is great demand for homeownership here in Massachusetts, and the continued strength we are seeing in the housing market is likely to remain a shining beacon of light during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kurt Thompson, a Keller Williams broker in Leominster and the association’s president, said in a statement.