Sale price growth for single-family homes has slowed across Massachusetts over the last six months, but the median house price has increased in most cities and towns. On the other hand, the following nine cities and towns have seen single-family home prices decrease so far in 2023, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.
(1). Abington, Massachusetts: Located in Plymouth County and about 22 miles southeast of Boston, Abington experienced a double-digit price decline from January through May, with median house prices dropping 16 percent to $500,000 from $593,000 during the same five-month period in 2022. In May, prices fell 12 percent to $517,500 from $590,000 in May 2022. Prices declined despite tight inventory, with the number of houses available plummeting 44 percent to nine in May.
(2). Chelmsford, Massachusetts: Located in Middlesex County and about 25 miles northwest of Boston, Chelmsford house prices fell 9 percent through May to $597,650 from $655,000 during the same timeframe in 2022. The median price of a single-family home in May also decreased by 9 percent on just seven sales, a 70 percent decline in sales from 23 in 2022. Inventory dropped 46 percent to 13 houses for sale at the end of May.
(3). Easton, Massachusetts: Located in Bristol County, Easton is about 30 miles southwest of Boston and 28 miles northeast of Providence, Rhode Island. The median house price slipped 5 percent through the first five months of 2023 to $630,000 compared to $660,500 during the same five months. The median price declined to $620,000 in May, an 8 percent drop from $673,000 in May 2022. Despite the decline in prices, homebuyers paid, on average, 108 percent of the original listing price in May, likely the result of only five weeks of inventory in Easton. About five or six months of supply is considered a balanced market between home buyers and sellers.
(4). Littleton, Massachusetts: Located in Middlesex County, Littleton is about 32 miles northwest of Boston and 30 miles northeast of Worcester, Massachusetts. The median house price through the first five months this year was $707,500, a 17 percent drop from $849,000 during the same timeframe last year. Prices fell 28 percent in May to $680,000 on six sales from $944,950 in May 2022. Littleton only had three houses on the market at the end of May.
(5). Natick, Massachusetts: About 22 miles west of Boston, Natick sits in Middlesex County. The median single-family home price was $859,000 through May, a 5 percent decline compared to $902,000 during the same five months in 2022. Homebuyers paid a median price of $897,000 in May compared to $1,000,000 in May 2022, 10 percent less. Bucking the statewide trend, inventory in Natick rose 21 percent in May to 29 houses.
(6). North Reading, Massachusetts: Located in Middlesex County and about 18 miles north of Boston, North Reading experienced a 12 percent decrease in house prices through May to $745,000 compared to $849,000 from January through May last year. The median price fell 11 percent in May to $825,000 from $930,000 on nine sales, the same as May 2022. Despite the price decline, homebuyers paid an average of 106 percent of the original listing price in May. Eight houses were on the market at the end of May, or about three weeks of inventory.
(7). Salem, Massachusetts: Famous for its 1692 witch trials and located on the north coast of Massachusetts, Salem, located in Essex County, is about 15 miles from Boston. Salem house prices fell 5 percent during the first five months of 2023 to $570,000 from $600,000 during the same timeframe in 2022. Sales declined 26 percent during that period. In May, the median price was $580,000, a 9 percent drop from $635,000 on 13 sales. Salem had less than two weeks of supply, about 56 percent less than in May 2022. On average, homebuyers paid 108 percent of the original list price in May.
(8). Salisbury, Massachusetts: A small coastal beach town and summer tourist destination in Essex County, Salisbury is about 40 miles northeast of Boston and within 40 miles of several New Hampshire and Maine beaches. Median house prices decreased 10 percent through May to $491,000 compared to $547,500 during the first five months of 2022. There were only three sales and seven available houses in May. Prices fell 19 percent to $375,000 from $461,000 in May 2022.
(9). Wilmington, Massachusetts: Located in Middlesex County and about 16 miles northwest of Boston, the median house price in Wilmington through May was $660,000, a 6 percent decline from $700,000 during the same five months last year. The median price dipped only 1 percent in May to $700,200 on 21 sales. Wilmington had just two weeks of supply in May. Homebuyers paid, on average, 105 percent of the original listing price in May.
While the above cities and towns have experienced a drop in the median price of single-family homes, historically low inventory has dominated the recent home-buying experience in Greater Boston. Time will reveal whether the price decline in some cities and towns is simply a result of less expensive homes hitting the supply-scarce market or whether home buyers are finally showing home-price-growth fatigue. The recent rise in interest rates, reaching levels not seen since last fall, may also suppress home prices in the coming months.
For those home buyers who can still afford to purchase a home with higher mortgage interest rates, less competition might present an opportunity. When interest rates spiked to around 7 percent in late October and early November, many home buyers found homes and made offers in a less competitive market. That window of opportunity closed quickly as interest rates declined at the end of 2022. For those home buyers who bought with higher interest rates, they have had several opportunities to refinance into lower-rate home loans since.