Despite High Prices, Boston Housing Market Showing Signs of Cooling

Ed Greable Blogger January 3, 2019

While the Greater Boston area is still one of the most expensive places to purchase a home in the country, recent data shows that home prices within the region started to show signs of leveling off in October. While there are no signs that prices will start to fall any time in the near future, it does appear as those the days of lightening-quick deals and bidding wars may be coming to an end.

Exploring Trends in the Boston Housing Market

The last several years, the Boston area has experienced rapidly increasing housing prices, including many record-high asking prices throughout much of the region. Recent data, however, seems to indicate that the volume of sales is slowing at the same time as the number of properties on the market has increased. Overall, the market has seen a steady softening of sales since Labor Day, which is good news for buyers as they face less competition when making an offer. Not only does this make it more likely to find a property within the Boston housing market, but it also gives buyers more time to shop around as they look for the right home to buy.

A Cooling Market

While there are no guarantees, there are several signs that seem to indicate that the market is cooling. One of these is the fact that the median sale price of a single-family home in Greater Boston climbed 7.1 percent when comparing October figures to the same time last year. While the price of $605,000 was a record price for the month of October, it was well below the pace of growth that the market experienced during the summer.

In addition to experiencing a slower pace of price increase, the asking price on more than one in five homes on the market was cut at least once during the month of October. While it is not unusual for the market to experience spikes within this measure during the month of October, 2018 saw the most price cuts at this time of the year than the market has seen in at least seven years.

Additional data has found that homes are sitting on the market in Boston longer than they previously had. This is particularly true in suburbs that are farther from the core of the region and its better-paying jobs. In turn, this gives buyers more leverage.

Of course, this is not to say that housing prices are cheap in Boston. The demand for lower-priced homes remains high and, while the pace for price increases is slowing, the costs are still going up right along with interest rates. In fact, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed nearly a point over the past year to 4.8 percent.

With the number of houses and condominiums being listed for sale in Greater Boston going up 8.7 percent in October and new listings being up about 20 percent, the market appears to be moving toward becoming more balanced. Nonetheless, despite these recent trends, it still remains a seller’s market.

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