Greater Boston Residential Real Estate Starting to Pop

Sequel Residential Study Shows Strong Recent Gains in Both Boston and Neighboring Suburbs

BOSTON, MA—Massachusetts may be under a state of emergency, but local residential real estate is showing increasing signs of life. A new study by Chestnut Hill-based Sequel Residential indicates that the number of “pending” listings for the two weeks ended May 20, 2020 spiked 36.4% in Boston and 80.2% in neighboring Brookline and Newton (combined) versus the previous two weeks.

On a year over year basis, however, pending activity is still off substantially: down 51.2% in Boston and 39.3% in Brookline/Newton for the two weeks ended May 20, 202 versus May 20, 2019. Listings are designated “pending” within the MLS system when they have an accepted offer or a signed purchase and sale agreement.

Increasing Luxury Activity Includes Two Homes Over $6 Million

Recent pendings include two single family homes listed for more than $6 million: 240 Dudley Street in Brookline (8,346 square feet on 1.47 acres) at $6.75 million and 60 Howland Road in West Newton (12,000 square feet on 1.36 acres) at $6.5 million. While the actual selling prices for pending listings are not disclosed until sold, both properties went pending within a day of hitting the market, likely indicating strong offers. 

These listings led a strong rebound in the luxury market where 43.5% of the pending listings in Brookline/Newton for the most recent two week period were in excess of $1.5 million. “This is the most robust activity that we have seen in the luxury market since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis,” notes luxury residential real estate specialist Jonathan Slater, President of Sequel Residential.

Spotlight—52% Accepted Offers within the First Two Weeks of Listing

Slater highlights an interesting dichotomy in the Brookline/Newton market: 52.2% of the 23 accepted offers for the week ended May 20, 2020 were on the market for less than two weeks, averaging 5 days to offer, while the other 47.8% were on the market for 15 days or longer, averaging 55 days to offer. “It’s a tale of two cities: price it right, and things are moving, even over asking with multiple bids; price it wrong and it sits for a while,” says Slater.

Inventory Also Starting to Rebound

The Sequel Residential study also shows that the number of active listings continued to increase, up 4.7% in Boston and 6.9% in Brookline/Newton for the week ended May 20th versus the previous week. Nevertheless, these levels are still down 18.6% and 25.7%, respectively, from last year.

“Buyer interest is strong, but people are frustrated with the lack of inventory, notes Slater. For example, he points to the popular price point of $1.0-1.5 million in Newton where listings were down 56.3% on May 20, 2020 versus the same date in 2019—just 18 listings compared with 32 for the prior year. “There’s a lot of pent of demand,” he adds.

Solds Show Steep Declines, Not Unexpected

Sold units during this same two week period compared with the prior year were also off sharply: down 46.% and 61.2% in Boston and Brookline/Newton, respectively. But Slater warns that these transactions reflect accepted offers 45-60+ days earlier, essentially in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 crisis. “That was a very different market…seems like ages ago,” he remarks.

He also notes that average selling prices were down 22.5% in Boston and 2.3% in Brookline/Newton between the two periods, but adds that that the 2019 period in Boston included a significantly higher proportion of higher priced sales. Specifically, Slater points out that only 8.3% of the units sold in Boston during the most recent two week period were over $1 million as compared with 19.0% in 2019. “I wouldn’t read much into the pricing data for sold listings from those early COVID-19 deals in terms of the current market,” he advises.

About Sequel Residential

Sequel Residential operates as an agent for KW Chestnut Hill, the Newton and Brookline office for Keller Williams Real Estate, the largest real estate brokerage in the US and around the world. Jonathan Slater has an MBA from Harvard Business School and is ranked among the top agents in this market.


Jonathan Slater
President, Sequel Residential
617-216-4000 (mobile)