by Katie Lannan, State House News Service
BOSTON (State House News Service) — The median sale price for single family homes in Massachusetts set an all-time record last year, and a real-estate industry analyst expects the trend to continue in 2020.
There were a total of 59,136 single-family home sales in 2019, according to The Warren Group, marking a 1.2 percent decrease from 2018. The Warren Group also reported Wednesday that the year-end median sale price hit $400,000, a 3.9 percent increase over 2018 and the first time on record that it's reached that level.
"The trend was fairly obvious all year long – 2019 was another record-setting year for Massachusetts real estate prices," CEO Tim Warren said in a statement. "Despite a slight dip in single-family sales compared to 2018, the streak of the median sale price increasing on a year-over-year basis continues. The last time the year-end median single-family home price declined was at the tail end of the housing market crash in 2011. Barring anything drastic, I fully expect this record-setting trend to continue in 2020.”
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors logged similar numbers, reporting a year-end median price for closed sales of $413,254, or a 3.3 percent increase from 2018. Median prices have been up or flat for 35 of the last 36 months, the association said Wednesday.
"Looking back at 2019, two themes dominated the year," MAR President Kurt Thompson, a broker at Leominster's Keller Williams Realty North Central, said in a statement. "The first is that the number of single-family homes for sale remained historically low for the entire 12 months; and second, that $400k is the new normal for statewide median home prices. Hopefully, 2020 is a year when housing production is made a priority."
Gov. Charlie Baker put a spotlight on the housing market in his State of the Commonwealth speech Tuesday night, reiterating that demand outpaces supply. Again urging lawmakers to take up his bill that aims to spur housing production by relaxing the threshold required to make local zoning changes from a two-thirds majority to simple majority, he said current zoning laws create "a wall between the well-off and the up-and-coming."
"For the sake of our communities, our young people, our seniors and our families, let's find the common ground on housing policy that must be in here somewhere," he told the legislators and local officials who filled the House chamber.
No Massachusetts county recorded a decline in median sale prices for single-family homes in 2019 on a year-over-year basis, the Warren Group said. Middlesex County, the state's most populous, recorded the most single-family home sales, with 11,777 transactions and a median sale price of $557,500.
By county, the lowest median single-family sales price was Hampden's $207,500, and the highest was Nantucket's $1.5 million.
There were 24,522 condo sales in 2019, according to the Warren Group, with a median sale price of $380,000. Like with single-family homes, the most condo sales were in Middlesex County, with 6,529, followed by Suffolk County's 5,337 transactions.
Warren said growth in the median sale prices for condos was "largely spurred by the number of luxury developments brought to market during the course of the year in the Boston metro area."
"With major projects in the works like Allston Yards, Winthrop Center, Cambridge Crossing, and Suffolk Downs, Suffolk County should have another bullish year, and the ripples will be felt throughout the rest of the commonwealth," he said.