In January, February, and early March 2020 the local market was a continuation of last year’s seller’s market. Compared to this time in 2019, prices and price per square foot were up and days to offer were down. The low number of properties for sale continued. This activity over the 2019 first quarter was partly because of the mild winter we were having this year vs last year. In mid-March life changed because of COVID-19. Governor Baker declared that residential and commercial real estate services were not essential services. Then on April 1 that was reversed and we were designated as essential services.
The Coldwell Banker response is the following. There are sellers and buyers who want to proceed with their plans and we will assist and represent them with all available resources. To protect buyers, sellers, and real estate agents, for now, we are not doing traditional open houses and are avoiding traditional in person showings whenever we can avoid it. We are taking advantage of some fabulous virtual technology such as Matterport 3D virtual tours, Facetime, Zoom, social media and other services. I have over 70 agents in my Cambridge office staying connected actively virtually. We are sharing information about new listings, market activity, buyer’s needs, etc. Mortgages are getting approved, bank appraisals of properties are happening (although in new ways), and closings are occurring (also in new ways).
In the two weeks ending April 4, 2020, 28 properties in Cambridge received accepted offers. Some of these properties received multiple offers and have accepted offers over the asking price. In the same period 35 properties in Cambridge closed (sold).
If the recession is sharp but short, as many economists are predicting, then a similar bounce back of the real estate market would be consistent. Mortgage rates are at record lows with a 30 year fixed rate in the middle 3’s percent range. If the massive federal and state stimulus measures work, we expect the traditional Spring real estate market to be pushed back to later in the year. Cambridge and Somerville housing has been very resilient in past declines compared with other cities and towns in Massachusetts.
Cambridge/Somerville 2019 vs 2018 Market Recap
In both cities, median sale prices were up 10% for single families and up 1% for condominiums. Multi-families in Cambridge were unchanged and up 3% in Somerville. This continues the ten year trend although several of the categories are showing a plateau.
The tight seller’s market conditions we experienced last year continued with sellers often receiving offers within a week of going on the market, multiple offers pushing prices over the asking price, and offers with few or no contingencies such as subject a home inspection or financing. The median Days to Receiving an Accepted Offer for Cambridge condominiums was only 7 days, about the same as last year. In Somerville it increased to 14 days from 8. Lack of supply continued with the number of sales and new listings not changed significantly.