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Mass condo prices shatter record

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 25, 2014 06:56 AM

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Yes, condo prices are getting nutty again.

The median price of a condo in Massachusetts crossed the $300,000 threshold in January.

That's the highest condo price ever for a January since The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, began tracking condo prices back in 1987.

It also represents a 24 percent increase from January 2013, when the median price for a condo in the Bay State was at a relatively more affordable $242,000.

By comparison, the median U.S. home price weighs in at $188,900. And that's after a 10 percent increase in January.

Condo sales were also up by a pretty sizable 16 percent, with 1,144 units changing hands the first month of the year, The Warren Group reports.

What's even more amazing, condo prices are not all that far behind single-family home prices in Massachusetts, with the median home price in January rising 16 percent, to $315,000.

Condos have long been a starter home alternative in pricey Greater Boston, but it's not clear how much longer that's going to last given current trends.

Certainly condo prices are out of sight now in Cambridge, Boston and the inner suburbs.

Of course, the price increases might be good news for sellers, but it's hardly anything for buyers to cheer about. Even if you are trying to sell a house in order to move up into something grander, you are still going to be scrambling to keep up when prices are rising at double digits.

So what's driving this price escalation? Some of it is due to pent-up demand, but low inventory - basically not enough listings for all the buyers out there - is the bigger problem right now.

The inventory of single-family homes dropped more than 20 percent in January compared to January 2013, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports this morning. (There were 15,246 listings this past January, compared to 19,142 the year before.)

Condo inventory was down even more, by 27 percent, to 4,232, MAR reports.

Anyway, it should be an interesting spring market. At a time when sales and prices in many other parts of the country are starting to moderate, the market in Massachusetts kicking into high gear.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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