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Sales of Boston Area Homes, Condos Hit Eight Year High in September

Sales of detached single-family homes rose on an annual basis for a third consecutive month in September, increasing 21 percent, from 766 homes sold in September 2012 to 927 in the same month this year.  It’s the most active September for single-family home sales in eight years, matching September 1999 for the fifth busiest September on record in Greater Boston.  Additionally, the growth in September sales activity is the largest in 10 months, dating back to November 2012 when sales improved 31.7 percent from the comparable month one year earlier.

The strong sales growth in September can be attributed to a more motivated home buying public, as concerns about higher home prices, rising interest rates, and an increasingly tight supply of homes for sale have created added anxiety for home shoppers and driven up demand as many look to buy for fear of being priced out of the current market.

Overall, during the third quarter, single-family home sales improved 15.8 percent in the three months from July - September 2013 as compared to the same quarter one year ago, climbing from 3,345 homes sold in the 2012 third quarter to 3,873 in the same three month period this year.

The inventory of single-family homes for sale remains well below historic norms, declining on an annual basis by more than one-quarter (28%) in September and by almost one-half (47%) in the past 24 months.  It’s the twenty-third time in the past 24 months the number of homes listed for sale has dropped from the same month one year earlier, and with over 1,125 fewer homes on the market this September compared to the same month in 2012, the 2,802 listings as of September 30 represents the lowest September supply of homes for sale in over a decade.  On a month-to-month basis, the number listings did climb modestly by 3.7 percent from an upwardly revised 2,701 homes on the market in August.

Meanwhile, after unexpectedly sliding 4 percent in June, condo sales have risen on an annual basis for three consecutive months, improving 17.5 percent over year ago levels to 885 units closed in September 2013.  Similar to the detached single-family home market, this was the busiest September for condominium sales in eight years, and the third most active September for condo sales on record in Greater Boston. With last month’s sales gain, condo sales have now risen in 20 of the past 21 months on an annual basis dating back to January 2012.  Furthermore, during the just concluded summer quarter, sales improved 14 percent from 2,999 condos sold during the third quarter of 2012 to 3,419 in the three months from July – September 2013.  

However, of little surprise, condo sales did moderate considerable on a month-to-month basis in September, declining 30.6 percent from an upwardly revised 1,276 condos sold in August.  

Still, demand for condos remains strong, especially among suburban empty-nesters looking to relocate to Boston, as well as with investors, and renters looking to become first-time homeowners.  However a shortage of condos for sale is constraining sales activity and creating upward pressure on prices as buyers compete for a limited supply of listings. 

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.