January 23, 2019

Year ends with Central Mass. home sales down, prices up to $275K

Photo/Grant Welker
Construction is seen nearing completion last year on the 37-home Hickory Hills development in Millis. Home prices were up last year in Central Massachusetts thanks in part to a low inventory.

Central Massachusetts ended 2018 with single-family home sales falling for the year and prices rising on a tight inventory.

In Worcester County, sales for the year were down 1.4 percent while prices were up 6.2 percent, hitting a median of $275,000, The Warren Group, a Boston real estate data firm, reported Wednesday. In Middlesex County, sales were down 2.8 percent and prices were up 7.2 percent to a median of $550,000, carried in large part by communities like Cambridge and Weston but also by several high-priced MetroWest towns.

Statewide, sales for the year were down 1.5 percent and prices rose 5.5 percent to $385,000. Last year marked the first time in three years that year-end sales failed to exceed 60,000 transactions. There were 59,801 sales for the year.

"It's no surprise that we saw year-end sales decline and prices increase, as that was a common trend during the course of 2018," Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group, said in a statement with Wednesday's report. "Every month last year, we saw home prices either increase or remain unchanged on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, eight out of the 12 months we saw home sales decline on a year-over-year basis."

In Central Massachusetts, that decline was even sharper in December, when sales are often much slower anyway.

Worcester County registered a drop of 5 percent for the month, with 689 homes selling. In Middlesex County, the drop was 12.4 percent from the previous December, with 809 homes selling in an area with a population nearly double Worcester County's.

The largest cities in Central Massachusetts saw larger price increases for the year.

Single-family home prices in Worcester were up 6.5 percent to $238,000, while condominium prices were up 6.7 percent to $144,000. In Framingham, single-family home prices were up 6.0 percent to $439,950, while condo prices were up 2.7 percent to $210,000.

In Fitchburg, sale prices rose by 7.5 percent to $200,000. In Leominster, sale prices rose by 8.0 percent to $269,950.

As for the area's priciest communities, homes in Sherborn hit a median of $810,500 for the year, up 0.9 percent. In Wayland, prices rose by 9.8 percent to $764,000, and Sudbury's median rose by 3.0 percent to $750,000.

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