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Arlington single-family median price tops $800k through June

YourArlington introduces you to Steve Poltorzycki, an Arlington resident who writes about what he sells -- local real estate.  FHE Commonwealth Steve 400 72218

Prices top $800K for the first time

The median single-family sale through the first half of 2018 ($834,000) rose 11% over 2017 ($750,000), continuing an unbroken string of price rises since 2012.

Highlights

Prices per square foot also rose in 2018 versus 2017 (6%), indicating continued market strength across all sizes of single-family homes, from smaller to larger.

Arlington single-family home median prices have risen by 60% since 2012, a rate of price rise that makes Arlington one of the hottest real estate markets in the Boston area.

 Buyer demand stays strong

Chart 2: Arlington

After a momentary step back in 2015, days on market (DOM), a good measure of the strength of buyer demand, continued their downward trend from 2016 through 2Q 2018 (the shorter the time, the greater the buyer demand).

Twenty DOM during 2018 indicates that homes were on market for only a short week or two before they went under agreement. The strength of buyer demand in Arlington in the first half of 2018 surpassed that of neighboring communities such as Belmont (23 DOM), Somerville (35 DOM), Lexington (39 DOM) and Winchester (56 DOM). 

Another key measure of buyer response to the market is by how much actual sales prices exceed (or fall below) asking prices. Arlington single-family homes in the first half of 2018 sold on average for 5% over asking price, reflecting extraordinarily strong buyer demand.

Buyers don't pay more than asking price unless they face stiff competition from other buyers for the same property.

Chart 4

Inventory levels may be increasing

After a period of several years of declining new listings, there was a slight uptick during the first half of 2018, which saw 179 new listings come on market, versus 164 during the first half of 2017. Sellers appear to be seizing the opportunity to lock in the gains made available by all time high price levels.

Arlington homes are a good valueChart 3 Arlington

Per-square-foot prices in Arlington ($437/sq. ft.) were significantly lower during the first half of 2018 than in some neighboring towns, such as Cambridge ($788/sq. ft.), Belmont ($531/sq. ft.), and Somerville ($531/sq. ft.), and were in the same ballpark as those in some nearby upscale towns, such as Lexington ($436/sq. ft.) and Winchester ($406/sq. ft.).

This shows that, from a buyer's point of view, Arlington single-family homes are a good value in comparison to homes in nearby towns, and, from a seller's point of view, that the Arlington market will continue to attract buyers priced out of some neighboring markets.

Chart 5Another point of note for home owners is that the average size of house sold in Arlington has been considerably smaller than in all other nearby communities that have higher median sales prices. It may be that the lower sales prices in Arlington are more due to house size than to other factors, such as location. In that case, it may be advantageous for owners of smaller homes in Arlington to consider investing in renovation and expansion projects that could pay off when the home is sold down the road.

Implications for sellers, buyers

Sellers of single-family homes in Arlington are enjoying one of the stronger seller's markets in the Boston area, with prices continuing to rise steadily.Chart 8

Of course there is no guarantee that home prices will continue to go up. Rising interest rates, a stock market correction, and local factors, such as a potential Proposition 2 1/2 override (raising Arlington property taxes in the face of an anticipated budget shortfall in 2020) and the large debt exclusion that will be need to pay for the high school building project, could have a chilling effect on Arlington home prices. Given the record prices homes are fetching on the market, owners thinking of selling might want to lock in gains by selling sooner rather than later.

Buyers looking for a single-family home in Arlington will continue to face a seller's market, often with several buyers competing for the same property. Buyers need to be prepared to move fast and put in competitive offers with as few strings attached as feasible. But, despite rising prices and tight inventory, Arlington per square foot prices are a relative bargain compared to Cambridge and Somerville.

Chart 7And if Arlington prices are too high, buyers may want to consider nearby towns such as Bedford, Watertown, Medford, Waltham, Burlington or Woburn. The median single-family home price during the first half of 2018 in Bedford ($728,000) was 13% less than that in Arlington ($833,500), in Watertown ($710,000) it was 15% less, in Medford ($602,500) it was 28% less, in Waltham ($582,500) it was 30% less, in Burlington ($568,700) it was 32% less, and in Woburn ($494,000), it was 41% less.


 Data were collected from MLS PIN and MAR and do not include private transactions. CENTURY 21 Commonwealth and its sales agents make no representation as to the accuracy of the data and are not responsible for any actions taken as a result of use of or reliance on this information.


This column of information by Steve Poltorzycki was published Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Please email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to receive similar reports that he prepares for other nearby towns, including Belmont, Lexington and Winchester.

Town of Arlington to LGBTQIA+ students: You belong
 

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