At the close of each quarter, we provide a comprehensive look at how our North Shore housing markets are performing. As always, to keep you informed, our updates provide in-depth data related to sales, inventory level, key insights and more.

During these unprecedented times, we are here to provide the information and guidance that you need regarding all of your buying, selling, and real estate investing needs.

The real estate market experienced a robust start to the year. Beginning in the final weeks of the quarter, the COVID-19 pandemic brought great change and has prompted our industry to adapt new methods of communication and transaction processes.

The real estate market remains active.

Activity levels are lower, but homes are still selling and demand exists this spring. Massachusetts has deemed real estate services an essential business. Our team is serving the needs of our clients by prioritizing safety, leveraging technology, and relying on our experience.

Key Insights

In the Q1 2020 reports, we have compiled data that gives insight into how our housing markets were impacted throughout the quarter. By examining the number of accepted offers on single-family-homes throughout Essex County, we specifically track activity levels during the time the pandemic crisis took hold.

Strong start to the year

The median price of sold single-family homes increased 11% in Q1 2020 to a new all-time high of $495,500.

  • 27 towns in Essex County saw Year on Year increases, while 7 saw declines. Q1 often shows wide swings from year to year, as it is the quarter with the lowest sales – and the worst weather.
  • Sales declined 4% reflecting low inventory – it was too soon for sales to be affected by COVID-19
  • The condo/townhomes median sales increased 9% to $332,000 on flat sales Year-over-Year

Decline in accepted offers

As the pandemic crisis unfolded, the number of accepted offers on single-family homes in Essex County declined. Through the week ending March 6, the number was flat with 2019, but the next three weeks saw declines of 13%, 14% and 20%. The pace of decline then accelerated with the first two weeks in April seeing declines of around 50%.

Overall inventory remains tight

As of April 1st, overall supply was 1.9 months (a market is traditionally considered to be in equilibrium between buyers and sellers when there is 6 months of supply). Supply varies greatly by price: 1 month for SFHs under $750,000, 4 months from $750,000 to $1.5 million; and 18 months at prices over $1.5 million.

Properties sold more quickly

The number of days a single-family home was on the market before receiving an accepted offer, reflecting low inventory and strong demand, dropped to 18 from 28 in Q1 2020; for condos from 22 to 15.

Volatile mortgage rates

The disarray in financial markets extended into the mortgage market, with disruptions in the secondary market – where most conventional mortgages are sold – and with servicers grappling with demands for forbearance and deferral. On one day, the 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage jumped by 1%. By early April, following Federal Reserve intervention to provide liquidity, mortgage rates had stabilized in the mid 3s, but it is still an uncertain market.

Q1 2020 Market Reports: Featured North Shore Communities

Essex County Snapshot

We regularly examine housing data across the 34 cities and towns that make up Essex County and beyond. For a high level overview, please click here. Do not hesitate to contact us for custom data or information about your desired community.


We hope you find these reports informative about what’s happening in your community. If you are considering a move this spring or want to discuss current market conditions, please contact us. We are here for you.