COVID19 Special Statement: Berkshire County Board of REALTORS, Inc.
While this MarketWatch information reflects historical data for the first quarter of real estate sales, it should be noted that in 2020, the Governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency on March 10, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Real estate services were limited during the ensuing weeks to the completion of transactions already under contract. On March 31st, the Governor declared real estate an essential service, allowing REALTORs to continue to assist buyers and sellers in new transactions. As of May 15, the state remains blanketed by a stay-at-home order, limiting business activity and public interactions. Realtors have developed health and safety procedures and virtual / remote technology to continue to serve home buyers and sellers during this pandemic. While we expect that there will be lingering effects on the real estate market, we are buoyed by the strength of sales in the first quarter leading into this crisis, the level of sales currently pending, the historically low interest rates and economic incentives designed to boost the economy and stabilize the business markets in the United States. That said, furloughed / unemployed workers and ongoing economic stability remain unknowns when looking ahead at the real estate sales in Berkshire County. We, like the rest of the state, remain hopeful that the pent up demand for housing, both primary residence for our workforce and second homes for those who love the Berkshires, will create opportunities for stability in our market.
1st Quarter Sales Data: Berkshire County Massachusetts
Realtor-assisted sales rose in the first quarter of 2020 generated to over $99 million dollars transacted, compared to $68 million dollars during the same period last year. That reflects a sales volume rising 45%, over last year. There was a total of 340 transactions sold in the first quarter of 2020, up from 294 last year, a 16% increase countywide, with the largest gain in the southern Berkshire market. While single family residential sales rose in all regions in Berkshire County, the northern and southern Berkshire markets recorded double digit increases in both the number and volume of sales. Central Berkshire reported modest residential growth over last year. Condominium sales in southern Berkshire spiked in the first quarter of 2020, with an increase from $1.8 million dollar for 9 units to 9 million dollars for 13 units. Commercial sales reported rose considerably in Central and Southern Berkshire, while multifamily sales continued to report gains in only central Berkshire County.
1st Quarter Sales By Property Type At-a-Glance
The number of transactions rose 16% to 340, the most 1st quarter sales since we began tracking in 1996. Transactions exceed $99 million dollars in the first quarter of 2020, also record-setting. Average selling prices continue to climb while inventory in residential markets falls.
Residential single family home sales rose 17% in the first quarter of 2020, with 243 homes sold compared to 207 homes the previous year. This represents a 40% boost in the total dollar value up over $72,000,000. Average sale price for single family homes continues to rise at a rate of 19% with the current residential average selling price at $298,671. All parts of Berkshire County report gains in residential sale for the first quarter of 2020.
In 2018, we saw new developments and existing condo sales rebounding to help fill the gap where residential inventory was lacking. Growth in the condo market stalled for the first quarter of 2019, yet this year sales soared in the dollar volume transacted. This gain, while marginally experienced in Central Berkshire, was attributed to the booming condo market for the 1st quarter in Southern Berkshire. With over $9 million dollars in sales, southern Berkshire rallies to sales rates experienced in the 2018 market.
After a banner year last year, multifamily sales have retracted slightly in the 1st quarter of 2020. While overall sales were 4 less than last year, it represented a decrease in $1 million countywide in multifamily sales. That said, Central Berkshire, especially the Pittsfield market, remains strong, with significant gains over the previous periods.
In the first quarter of 2019, land sales fell compared to previous years, and this year we were not able to regain momentum. With the exact same number of parcels sold and a slight decrease in the price paid for those parcels, land sales continue to reflect the stagnant new building market. With only 18 sales countywide, the market is considerably lower than our peak, when we transacted 59 parcels in the first quarter of 2003. With inventory retracting, we continue to hope that building may begin, and land sales also start to increase.
Commercial sales rose considerably in the first quarter of 2020 with 8 more commercial buildings transacted and $4 million more in sales, for a total of over $8 million. This is the highest year since the peak twelve years ago in 2008. While Northern Berkshire was stable, the large growth is attributed to the Central Berkshire and Southern Berkshire commercial markets.