The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported on Monday that both single-family home sales and condominium sales were down in March compared to the same time last year. However, on a month-to-month basis, there was a 26 percent increase in single family home sales and a 32 percent increase in condominium sales compared to February 2008. While the increase is significant, this type of jump is typical of the spring home buying market.
In the first quarter of 2008, single-family home and condominium sales were down 28.3 percent and 35.6 percent respectively.
“These numbers reflect transactions which began earlier in the year. So, with questions about the economy beginning to accelerate at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008 and increased difficulty in accessing credit in the marketplace, we are not surprised by these results in March,” said MAR President, Susan M. Renfrew, broker/co-owner of Renfrew Real Estate in Greenfield. “However, with recent increases in the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits taking effect, the opportunity does exist for some improvement over the coming months.”
There were 2,339 detached single-family homes sold this March, a 32.3 percent decrease from the 3,456 homes sold the same time last year.
The median selling price for single-family homes in March was $315,000, a decrease of 8.4 percent compared to $344,000 in March 2007. On a month-to-month basis, the March median selling price was up 1.6 percent from February 2008 at $310,000.
The condominium market also experienced a significant decrease in the number of units sold this March, with a 38.0 percent drop compared to the same time last year (from 1,764 units sold in 2007 to 1,093 units sold in 2008). On a month-to-month basis, condominium sales were up 32.2 percent compared to 827 units sold this past February.
Condominium median selling prices in March went down 5.3 percent from $278,500 in 2007 to $263,750 in 2008. Compared to this past February, the median selling price of a condominium is up 4.7 percent (from $252,000).
“While the month-to-month increase in sales is positive and shows that the market is still moving along, it is typical,” said Renfrew. “We are more encouraged that prices for both single-family and condos have also gone up from this past February, indicating demand could be increasing.”
Inventory and Days on Market:
The inventory of residential properties on the market as of March 31, 2008 increased 3.8 percent compared to the same time last year (from 46,910 listings in 2007 to 48,704 listings in 2008). At the current sales pace, this represents approximately 14.2 months of supply, an increase from 9.0 months of supply in March 2007. On a month-to-month basis, the average months of supply is down from 16.6 months in February 2008.
The inventory of single-family homes increased 4.8 percent from March 2007 (31,353 listings in 2007 to 32,869 listings in 2008) which translates into 14.1 months of supply in March 2008. This is up from 9.1 months of supply last year and up slightly from 13.9 months of supply in February 2008.
The condominium market saw March inventory remain largely unchanged from last year (15,557 listings in 2007 to 15,835 listings in 2008), which translates into 14.5 months of supply, up from 8.8 months in March 2007 and up slightly from 14.2 months this past February.
Detached single-family homes stayed on the market an average of 162 days in March 2008 compared to an average of 158 days in March 2007, while condos stayed on the market an average of 168 days, up from an average of 142 days in March 2007.
The number of single-family homes sold in the first quarter of 2008 was down 28.3 percent compared to the same time last year (8,624 homes sold in 2007 to 6,182 homes sold in 2008). Median selling prices were down 7.3 percent from $339,900 in 2007 to $315,000 in 2008.
The condominium market experienced an even greater drop in the number of units sold than the single-family market did in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year with a 35.6 percent decrease (4,298 units sold in 2007 to 2,767 units sold in 2008). Median selling prices were down 4.0 percent to $263,000 from $274,000 in 2007.
Quarterly Regional Sales Data:
Regionally, every part of the state saw a decrease in sales compared to the same quarter last year. Of the seven regions, Cape Cod experienced the smallest drop in sales at 13.8 percent with 690 homes sold in Q1 2007 compared to 595 homes sold in Q1 2008. The Greater Boston region had the largest drop in sales of single-family homes, with a decrease of 33.7 percent.
While Cape Cod also experienced the smallest drop in median prices at 3.4 percent from $370,000 in 2007 to $357,500 in 2008, it was the Southeast region of the state that had the largest drop in median prices at 14.3 percent from $280,000 in 2007 to $240,000 in 2008.
In the condo market, Cape Cod and the Islands had the only increase in sales, with a 2.1 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year with 144 units sold in 2007 to 197 units sold in 2008. Unfortunately, the Southeast region saw the number of units sold nearly cut in half (47.9 percent), going from 73 units sold in 2007 to 38 units sold in 2008.
Greater Boston saw the smallest decrease in median prices for the condo market with only a 0.9 percent drop (from $348,000 in 2007 to $345,000 in 2008), while the Southeast region experienced a 6.7 percent drop compared to Q1 last year (from $159.900 in 2007 to $149,150 in 2008).
The multi-family market experienced a 20 percent sales decrease in sales compared to the same time last year (with 1,292 multi-family dwellings sold in 2007 to 1,033 sold in 2008.) Median sales prices for multi-family homes declined 28.4 percent to $240,000 in 2008 from $335,000 in 2008.