By CRAIG CONWAY
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed and even shut down many businesses, but the demand in Rhode Island’s single-family market has increased with record breaking numbers.
Total home sales from October of 2019 were surpassed last month with a 22 percent increase in sales and a 16 percent increase in median price of $335,000. The 1,252 single-family home sales in October of 2020 was the busiest month on record, despite being the time of the year when sales typically begin to decelerate.
According to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, some key factors have contributed to those numbers, with the pandemic playing a definite role. Historically low interest rates are fueling buying across the country. In a report from www.realtor.com, for the first time since 2011, nationwide homes sold faster in October than September and median prices remained at their summer peak of $350,000.
The demand for homes in Warwick was extremely high in particular. The 156 single-family home sales were the most of any municipality in the state with a 21 percent increase in median sale price for the month rising from $239,700 to $290,000. “It has been incredibly busy,” said Phil Slocum of Slocum Reality.
“It has been busy throughout the state, and Warwick led as it always does.”
Of the 156 homes sold, 75 percent of them went for asking price or higher. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) provided information on each of the 156 homes sold in Warwick during October. Mott & Chace, Sotheby’s International Realty, shared the information.
For the most part, the homes were sold for about $10,000-$20,000 over asking price, with four going for more than $30,000 over asking price and the highest going $46,000 over asking price. The majority of the houses that went for less than asking price were listed in the high $400,000 price range or more. However, even some of those houses sold at the asking price or higher.
Rhode Island also saw a 56.7 percent increase in out-of-state buyers with the majority coming from Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. With a high demand due to a lack of inventory and low interest rates, Rhode Island has been part of a nationwide surge in home sales.
“As of right now there are 1,175 active single family home listings,” said Slocum. “There are typically around 6,000. Warwick has 74 active listings, which is dramatically lower than usual.” Nationwide, there are about 500,000 fewer homes for sale than a year ago, according to www.realtor.com.
Multi-family home sales also increased by 14.9 percent from 188 to 216. The median sales price increased by 20 percent from October 2019 to $300,000, which is the highest monthly price for multifamily home sales on record. Condominiums saw a 34.2 percent gain in sales with just a one percent median price increase since October of 2019.
Neighboring Cranston had the second most single-family sales in the state with 92 and a median price of $290,500. Johnston saw sales for single-family homes increase by 37.50 percent with a total of 44 sales with an 11 percent rise in median price, going from $283,450 to $313,750.
While the pandemic has had an impact, the lack of inventory started before the lockdown in March. Over the past few years, inventory in Rhode Island has gone down while prices have gone up. The holiday season tends to be a little slower for buying and selling homes, but Slocum believes that the market will remain stimulated. “When looking for a home, buyers need to be serious with their offers in order to come out on top,” he said.
The demand in area’s such as Jamestown and Block Island have caused median prices to skyrocket into the millions. While those two areas are unlike any other, the market for each demographic in Rhode Island has been strong.
There are different needs for houses due to the current state of jobs and schools. A few years ago, the need for an in-home office would not have been a major factor for buying a house nor would the need for a bigger yard or pool. However, with many people having to work from home and children doing their schoolwork virtually, those amenities have become a valuable selling point for homes.
Despite a possible vaccine being available soon, businesses and employees have found that working from home has worked well for them and may continue to do so even after the pandemic is under control. Not only is this happening in Rhode Island, but nationwide as well.
In an article by Forbes in May, a survey done by a California-based company has tracked a 47 percent increase in worker productivity from those who are working from home.
The Slocum team consists of 25 agents working with clients throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as both buyers and seller with all other real estate needs.