While my wife still crystallizes over the harshness of winter in Massachusetts, I fondly remember the few years I spent there, rain or shine, particularly, of course, in the fall when the magical colors of the foliage dress up the landscape.
It is the season again! Everything suddenly looks more beautiful and inviting. Good time to show a property if you are a Realtor. Good time to fall in love with a house if you are in the market to buy.
As a matter of fact, the recent sales stats from the land of the Pilgrims seem to support and feed optimism, whether you are a buyer, a seller or a real estate professional. William Raveis Real Estate, a leading full service brokerage in New England just forwarded their last and always excellent Housing Newsletter, sent monthly to their clients and subscribers.
Before we unveil the findings we can extract from the August snapshot, keep in mind that although the Boston area is a favorite of travelers on the world tour, the real estate market there is more organic/domestic than other metropolitan centers like New York, Miami, San Francisco, or Los Angeles…where foreign demand is driving the market, particularly in the high end.
The first thing that jumps at you upon reading the quantity and the quality of recent transactions in many of the upscale markets of Greater Boston, is that there is a considerable homogeneity of traits and trends between them. Coming from Northern California where values often move in different directions from one town to the next, it is worth mentioning.
Generally speaking, it can be said that the high end is still fragile in the area, whether you look at pricey Wellesley in the West, or Brookline (adjacent to the city and in my opinion the best barometer of price in Eastern Mass), or Hingham in the South Shore. Prices are soft and shrunk a bit further in August according to the newsletter. The slight decline in price seems to affect mostly the top of the market, revealing one more time that the move-up buyers cannot buy or don’t want to pay hefty prices if they took a hit selling their existing homes.
In Wellesley, the median sale price went down a surprising 18% y/y last month and slid under $1M. In Brookline, the decline was 12.7%; and in Hingham, where the demand is only a fraction of what it is in the Boston immediate suburbs, the median price went down 13.4%. Even in the heart of Boston, in trendy South End where would-be buyers are almost as desperate to find a home as cars are to find a parking space…we observed a tiny drop of 2.2%.
You might ask “What’s so good for the sellers?” as I seemed to allude to earlier? Well, at least the market is more alive. The cleansing process is bringing more sanity to the market. The inventory of homes is down substantially (36.4% in Wellesley) in these key markets. It means that the “months of supply” are shrinking big time and the sales units are up accordingly.
If you are a buyer, enjoy the good prices while they last. You may want to move to a higher gear as listings, whether existing or new to market, are moving a lot faster.
As for Realtors, be ready for better days. They are looking at you.