How do home prices compare with the 2005 peak?

The stock market may have reached new highs this year but the housing market, despite occasional cries of alarm about “unsustainable” double digit price increases, remains in general well below peak levels reached in 2005.

But not everywhere.

The Boston Business Journal analyzed data from The Warren Group and published a list of 27 Eastern Massachusetts communities where median prices for the first nine months of 2013 exceeded those for 2005. Which, of course, got me wondering how Marblehead and other North Shore communities compared.

First, the BBJ/Warren Group data:

Sources: The Warren Group; Boston Business Journal

Sources: The Warren Group; Boston Business Journal

How does the North Shore compare? Not so well:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

I also looked at sales at different prices and the median price overall for some of the communities:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

What do these numbers tell us?

In Marblehead, sales overall were at a similar level, but there were more below $500,000 and fewer in the $500-  750,000 range, so the median price slipped 8%.

In Manchester there was a substantial increase in sales under $500,000, leading to a 12% drop in the median price.

Wenham showed the biggest decline in median price at 29%. Sales overall increased sharply, with the number under $500,000 more than doubling.

Finally, Middleton showed the smallest decline at just 3%. Here there was a small increase in sales under $500,000, largely offset by an increase in the $500-750,000 range.

For Essex County overall sales were down 14% with the under $500,000 market showing the smallest decline (apart from $3,000,000 plus but the numbers there are tiny in comparison).

At present the market seems to be one of its pause phases, which with all the shenanigans going on in Washington is hardly surprising. If Congress lets the debate drag on for several more weeks it seems quite likely that the market may stay quiet and we will find ourselves in a winter market. On the other hand, a speedy agreement to fix the budget and deficit and get a grip on spending could cause a rush of buyers to get in before the end of the year. A speedy agreement? In Congress? Yeah right.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.


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