Single-family home sales last month sold at a pace not seen for 17 years in Massachusetts and the median sale price has now sat above $400,000 for a year.
The Warren Group on Thursday released its latest market snapshot and reported that sales in February were up nearly 13 percent over February 2020, the last month not marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 3,026 homes sold last month were the most for any February since 2004.
Sales last month surged in particular in the Cape Cod communities of Barnstable County, where 293 homes were sold, up 55 percent from the 188 home sales recorded in February 2020.
Massachusetts home prices have been going one way — up — and that also continued in a big way last month. The median sale price for a single-family home surged 17 percent on a year-over-year basis to a record $445,000, up from $380,000 in February 2020.
Property tax bills for single-family homes in Massachusetts are going up too, but not at the same rates since increases in those bills are limited by law.
The median single-family tax bill for fiscal 2021 is $5,537, an increase of $175, or 3.3 percent from fiscal 2020, the Department of Revenue reported this month. A cluster of communities mostly west of Boston feature average tax bills of more than $10,000 per year.
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Basing its conclusions on data submitted by 322 of the state’s 351 cities and towns, the DOR’s Division of Local Services also reported the average value of a single-family home in Massachusetts is $468,034, an increase of $14,866, or 3.3 percent from fiscal 2020.
The combination of high demand and low inventory has been a constant in the Massachusetts market, leaving sellers in a strong place but requiring buyers to compete with each other, driving up sales, and prices. On the inventory side, government officials are working to implement a new housing production law.
“Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a retiree looking to downsize, or looking to your ‘forever’ home, good luck, because the competition is fierce, and prices reflect that,” Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group, said in a statement accompanying the latest data.
The arrival of COVID-19 last March caused a temporary setback in sales, but the market has roared back. Compared to the pre-pandemic months of January and February 2020, year-to-date home sales in 2021 are up 10.7 percent and the year-to-date median home sale price is up more than 15 percent.
Condo sales have not been as brisk but Warren said “we could be in for a surprise in the coming months.”
“With stage four of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan scheduled for March 22, the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins starting to allow fans back into games, and almost a million people vaccinated against COVID-19, a return to normalcy in major metro areas is on the horizon, which will make condos much more appealing to buyers again,” Warren said.
Year-to-date, there have been 3,161 condo sales, an 8.1 percent increase from the first two months of 2020 with a median sale price of $410,000, a 2.5 percent increase. Condo sales in February were up 3.9 percent over February 2020 and the median condo sale price of $419,000 was a record for that month.