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January Proves to be Another Strong Month for Greater Boston Area Home and Condo Sales

Sales of detached single-family homes rose for a fourth consecutive month in January, increasing 15.3 percent on an annual basis over the same month last year.  It’s the largest percentage increase in January home sales in six years and marks the eighteenth time in the past 19 months that single-family homes sales have increased on an annual basis.  Furthermore, the 602 homes sold in January 2013 makes it the busiest January for home sales since 2007 when 670 homes were sold, and places this January as the tenth most active on record for home sales in Greater Boston.

The solid sales growth over the past 12 months reflects today’s healthier labor market, improved housing affordability levels, and strong pent-up demand from entry-level echo-boomers, young families and others who have been renting or delaying a home purchase until the market strengthened and are now eager to buy.       

The monthly median selling price for detached single-family homes increased for a fourth consecutive month in January, climbing 6 percent on an annual basis to $430,000.  This is consistent with price gains of 6.8% and 5.8% in December and the November respectively, and marks the first time since August – November 2010 that the single-family median home price has risen for four consecutive months. 

Similar to the single-family market, condominium sales rose steadily in January to their highest level for the month in six years.  A total of 504 condo units were sold in January 2013, an increase of 22.3 percent over the previous January’s sales volume and the most since January 2007 when 638 units sold.  This marks the thirteenth consecutive month in which condo sales have improved on an annual basis, with double-digit sales gains observed in each of those months.  Empty-nesters, entry-level buyers, and investors are all helping to boost activity in the condo market.     

The condo median selling price rose for a twelfth consecutive month in January, increasing 3.5 percent over the past 12 months to $367,250.  Although it’s the smallest percentage increase in the monthly median price since September when the median price rose 1.4 percent, the slow, steady rise in the median selling price is welcomed by industry experts as its much better for the health of the market than double-digit appreciation rates which discourage some buyers and price others out of the market.  The last time the monthly median selling price for condominiums increased for 12 consecutive months on an annual basis was January – December 2005. 

The steady rise in median selling prices over the past year is due in large part to a severely limited inventory of condos for sale, which is down over 40 percent on an annual basis from the same month last year, thus leading to competitive, multi-offer bidding situations for many properties.  This is evident in the increase over the past year of 3 percentage points in the ratio of original list price to sales price sellers are receiving for their units, which rose from 93 percent in January a year ago to 96 percent in January 2013. 

To access monthly data by community, check out our Local Market Update reports, and our Monthly Market Indicator Reports for comprehensive regional housing market data for the GBAR/GBREB jurisdiction.

 

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