May Market Drops As Inventories Rise

Home sales in the Bay State were down again last month, for the third time this year. After months of year-over-year increases in both number of homes sold and the median home price, the residential market has had a bumpy start to 2015.

Single-family sales decreased 2.6 percent from May 2014 and 1.8 percent year to date, though the sale price remained unchanged at $340,000, according to data from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR), which uses a different method of calculation, agreed with the overall trend, finding that single-family sales fell 5.2 percent in May from a year earlier, and the median price declined 1.5 percent.

Time to panic? Not quite yet, say Realtors, citing bad weather earlier this year for the slow start and low inventory for the continued slowdown.

Low inventory levels have pushed the median single-family price up pretty consistently over the past few months, and while not quite at the level of inducing panic, it continues to be a concern in both the single-family and condominium markets.

Massachusetts’ real estate market and economy didn’t fall as far or as hard as other sections of the country in the recent recession, and its recovery has been strong, particularly compared with neighboring Connecticut, which continues to struggle with a glut of foreclosures, a large inventory of undesirable homes and a notoriously unwelcoming corporate climate. Despite the commonwealth’s many charms, to see prices rise month-over-month and year-over-year was concerning – too much, too soon, and another bubble forms.

So MAR’s report that single-family listings are up nearly 8 percent over May of last year is good news for both buyers and sellers. As the spring market heats up, prospective sellers have – we sincerely hope – dug out from the terrible winter of ’14-’15 and repaired whatever damage the record-breaking snow and cold caused; as such, industry experts are seeing more and more listings come online.

Alongside the good news for single-families is a positive report about the red-hot condo market. Particularly in the Greater Boston market, decently sized condos in reasonable neighborhoods are increasingly difficult to find, and multiple over-ask offers are becoming the norm.

According to The Warren Group’s data, condominium sales fell in May, the seventh consecutive month sales have decreased on a year-over-year basis, and year-to-date sales were also down by 6 percent. Prices continue to climb, though; the median price rose 2.2 percent in May, to $327,000, the third time the median selling price of a condo increased year-over-year in 2015. In Suffolk County, 491 condo units sold for a median price of $500,000 last month; in May 2014, 521 units sold for a median price of $439,000.

Reduced sales and rising sales prices; classic supply and demand. But MAR finds condo listings were up nearly 10 percent in May, a good sign for coming months.

It’s not a flood by any means, but better a slow stream than a raging river.

May Market Drops As Inventories Rise

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min