A sale pending sign is displayed in front of a home in Sudbury, Mass., last month. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, file)
2024 is a year primed with opportunity mixed with uncertainty for home buyers and sellers, according to Massachusetts Association of Realtors President Amy Wallick.
The Bay State is coming off one of the slowest years in real estate in “quite some time,” Wallick told the Herald. November, specifically, saw the slowest pace of sales of existing homes since August 2010, according to data from the association.
The 3,238 single-family sales in November, the most up-to-date statistics, were a decrease of more than 11% from the prior year, and the 1,317 condominium sales were a 9% decrease since November 2022.
The median sales price for single-family homes listed at $605,000, a 10% increase since last year, and condominiums increasing by 4%, listed at $515,000. Just under 5,000 single-family homes and 2,500 condominiums were listed for sale in November, a whopping 29% and 26% decrease from 2022, respectively.
“I would say that we’re seeing this on a national level as well, not just here in Massachusetts,” Wallick said. “While there was certainly still opportunity and plenty of buyer demand, the biggest thing in 2023 was that lack of inventory.”
Massachusetts, Wallick said, is facing unique challenges due to the overall housing shortage. The association, she said, has been focused on advocacy efforts to find more opportunities to create more housing in areas such as Boston.
Wallick said the overwhelming reaction from realtors and industry employees has been that 2023 was a market unlike others they’ve experienced.
“It has certainly been a bit of a challenge and I do think that realtors are living through these challenges as well,” she said. “They’re all trying to help their clients find the right properties.”
Multiple Listing Service and Redfin statistics revealed that more than 362,000 homes were sold nationwide during November, a year-over-year decrease of 6%. The median sales price of those homes was just over $408,000, an increase of almost 4% since 2022.
The 30-year-fixed mortgage rates have declined slightly from the 7.8% rate at the end of October to just over 6.6% as of Jan. 4, according to statistics.
The Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged for a third consecutive time in mid-December, with indications of cuts coming in 2024.
“While mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to the Fed rate, it is certainly our key indicator that when the Fed cuts that rate, we tend to see mortgage rates follow in the months after,” Wallick said.
If the rates are cut, she said, it would hopefully encourage sellers who have been thinking about moving on to become more prepared to sell and get some much-needed inventory back on the market.
“Even with where the interest rates have been, there is still such a high level of demand that there’s still a really healthy amount of buyers out there,” she said. “The most important thing for both buyers and sellers looking to be active in the market this year is to be prepared.”
The potential rate cuts and it being an election year, she said, could bring some unforeseen variables into the equation. Despite the encouraging news for those in the thick of a murky housing market, Wallick said not much may change this year.
“We think we’re just going to continue to experience a similar market to what we experienced in 2023,” she said.