Home Buying

There’s a backlog of unsold homes in wealthy suburbs

This, even as buyers battle over scarce ones in the vast majority of communities where prices are a little less lofty.

The doorway of a large tudor home in Dover. John Tlumacki/Globe staff

There’s a stockpile of listings in a handful of Greater Boston’s wealthiest suburbs, even as buyers battle over scarce ones in the vast majority of communities where prices are a little less lofty, new stats show.

Wellesley, Weston, and Dover in the western suburbs, and Manchester-by-the-Sea and Cohasset on the north and south shores, respectively, have enough unsold homes to satisfy current demand for anywhere from six to more than nine months, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

Six months of “supply,” as unsold homes are called in the real estate industry, is generally considered to be a sign of a balanced market, in which supply and demand are evenly matched and in which neither buyers nor sellers has inordinate leverage. Anything above that, and the market starts to tilt toward buyers.


The statewide average is 3.6 months, with many Boston area suburbs lower than that, putting buyers at a perpetual disadvantage as they battle each other over a limited number of homes for sale, MAR stats show.

Michael Carucci, executive vice president of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston, said he works frequently with empty nesters leaving the suburbs to buy condos downtown.

“There is definitely softening in the suburbs,” Carucci said. “There are over 100 homes for sale in Weston.”

The amount of time it takes to sell a home is also high in some of the Boston area’s most expensive suburbs.

The average time on market for a home in Weston has increased to 141 days during the first nine months of 2016, compared to 137 during the same period last year, MAR stats show. The inventory of unsold homes in town is now up to 9.5 months of supply, down slightly from 9.6 months in September 2015, but roughly three times higher than the state average. In neighboring Wellesley, months of supply increased 55 percent to 6.2 months in September, compared to four months the same month last year, while days on market has jumped 22 percent from 71 last September to 87 this September.


Meanwhile, in Dover, there are enough unsold homes to last 8.6 months (though that’s down from more than a year last September). Days on the market have fallen 11 percent from 154 to a still high 137, MAR reports.

On the North Shore, homes in Manchester-by-the-Sea, where the median price now tops $1 million, are sitting on the market for an average of 207 days, up 61 percent from 127 during the same period in 2015, while inventory is at 8.9 months of supply, down 2.2 percent from the first nine months of 2015, when it was 9.1 months, according to MAR.

On the South Shore, Cohasset’s supply of unsold homes now stands at eight months, down from 9.7 months in September 2015, while days on market is at 123, down from 129.

This backlog of unsold homes in the priciest suburbs could open up new opportunities to some buyers, Carucci said.

“I see a (buying) opportunity for young families in some of the tony suburbs over the next few years,” he said.

By contrast, in towns like Natick, where the median price is $553,000, the inventory of unsold homes has dropped 25 percent year-to-date to 2.6 months from 3.5 months. Homes are selling, on average, in 59 days, or in just under two months, up 7.3 percent year-do-date from 55 days, MAR reports. Waltham, where the median price is $525,000, is even tighter, with inventory down to just 1.4 months in September from 1.7 months in September 2015, while homes are selling on average in just 44 days year-to-date, down from 52 days in 2015.


“Inventory plummeted yet again in September, this time to lows we haven’t seen since the winter of 2015,” said 2016 MAR President Annie Blatz, branch executive at Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Brewster, in a press release.


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