Home Buying

Greater Boston’s housing market is cooling, but don’t think it’s going to get any easier to buy a house

The same dynamics that have begun to shift the market have pushed housing even farther out of reach for many.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
Aaron Berdofe, Annie Springfield, and their son, Calvin Berdofe, 4, in their Swampscott home. The family has been exploring a renovation, but local zoning rules have prevented them from doing so, and rising prices and mortgage rates make moving to a larger house unappealing.

For Aaron Berdofe and his family, the timing was right to find a new home.

After his father’s death in February, they needed more room for Berdofe’s mother to stay on long visits from her place in Iowa, where she’s now alone. And with all the headlines lately trumpeting declining home prices, it seemed like a good time to buy.

Not so.

Even as home prices start to edge down, there’s still next to nothing available in Swampscott, where they currently live in a three-bedroom, and what they have found has been way too expensive.

“In healthy housing markets, you’re supposed to be able to just find another house, right?” said Berdofe, who wants to stay in Swampscott because his two young children have friends in the neighborhood. “There are a million reasons why that’s not the case for us right now. And I don’t know whether to wait or keep moving on this because both options feel like the wrong choice.”


Indeed, after a frenzied run-up in demand and prices during the pandemic, Greater Boston’s housing market is slowing down. That means homebuyers have a little bit more power for the first time in a long time. Houses are staying on the market longer, and they’re selling for a little less.

But the same dynamics that have begun to shift the market — rising mortgage rates, inflation, and a stark supply shortage — have pushed housing even farther out of reach for many, with some measures of affordability hitting their lowest point in over 30 years.

“There are a good number of buyers who are looking at what it costs to buy a house in Greater Boston, and looking at what they’re going to be paying for a monthly mortgage, and throwing up their hands,” said Dawn Ruffini, president of the Massachusetts Realtors Association. “In a lot of cases, if people don’t absolutely need to buy a house right now, they’re not going to.”

And while Boston has long been a tough market for buyers, it is also, suddenly, a tough market for sellers too.

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