January 8, 2018

Worcester County becoming home-owning destination

More homes listed for sale in January in Worcester are breaking up the logjam of demand for single-family houses in the county.

Homes are being sold in Massachusetts again after months of slow sales, including in Worcester County, where 762 single-family homes were sold in November.

Aside from Middlesex County (1,005 sales), Worcester County saw the most single-family home sales in the state in November, Boston real estate and financial information from The Warren Group said.

The number marked an increase of 6.1 percent from November 2016.

Westward movement

Cassidy Murphy, director of media relations for the Warren Group, said the westward movement of home buyers has been happening since the Boston area saw a cultural and economic explosion after the Great Recession.

As more people saw to move to the city and surrounding area, that began driving home prices up, and those prices pushed prospective home buyers outside of Routes 128 and 495.

"People are fleeing that unaffordability and are coming into Worcester County," Murphy said.

However, it's not just the high Greater Boston prices driving this Greater Worcester arrival, Murphy said. It's the city of Worcester itself that is now appealing to Millennials and young families.

"The city has done a lot of work to be seen as an attractive and desirable place to live," Murphy said, adding Worcester County home prices have grown by 40 percent in the last five years.

Worcester County's affordability

The median price of a single-family home in Worcester County was $257,700 in November, an increase of just over 11 percent from last November, a signal the county is becoming a desirable place in which to live.

That price, however, is still relatively affordable, unlike some MetroWest communities where average single-family homes sell for more than $600,000, including Natick, Westborough and Southborough.

According to Murphy, only half of the 48 towns in Middlesex County had a median sale price below $500,000, and eight had median sale prices of more than $1 million.

Rising, but affordable prices

For the year, single-family home sales are up 1.9 percent in Worcester County, according to the Warren Group. Prices, however, are up 5.8 percent.

Condominium sales in the county are also hot on the market, as 206 condos were sold in November, an increase of 32.9 percent from last November and a yearly increase of 12.1 percent.

Those prices saw increases similar to single-family homes: 12.8 percent from last November to $220,000, and a yearly increase of 4.5 percent to $197,500.

Growing home sales statewide

According to the Warren Group's monthly report, home sales in the state reached an all-time high in November at 5,124, a 1.2-percent increase from last November and a 0.4 increase from last year.

In another similar announcement of the rising home sales and prices, Massachusetts Association of Realtors President Paul Yorkis said prices have been increasing for two years as inventory declines, but demand remains.

"This isn't something that is sustainable, yet it continues," he said. "We just need more inventory, and we need more housing production to make that happen."

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