Massachusetts housing market remains too tight for many – NBC Boston
Business is booming in the Bay State. But while the number of corporate headquarters is growing so there’s plenty of places to work, finding a place to live is another story.
For many people in Massachusetts, the dream of owning a home is simply out of reach.
You often hear about limited inventory and high demand, but the lack of new homes being built is also a major factor.
Take Middlesex County for example, the largest most populous county in the commonwealth. According to census data, they added nearly 130,000 new residents between 2010 and 2020, but they only added about 46,000 housing units during that time.
That lack of housing makes realtor Trish Pierce Galihue’s job even harder. Based out of Hingham, most of her clients are on the South Shore.
“What I’m looking at is buyer fatigue. These buyers do not want to come out and make an offer because they don’t want to lose” she said.
As for her clients, like Jenny Maraglia, it can make the dream of buying a home a nightmarish process.
“You just got your hopes up and people would come in with cash and outbid you by like over $10,000 to $20,000. it was just impossible” said Maraglia.
Ultimately her fortunes changed. After more than a year of searching and seven failed bids, she closed on a home in Abington a few months ago
“It’s a beautiful house,” she said. “We have tons of yard space and everything”.
In today’s housing market, Maraglia’s journey is becoming more common. The commonwealth’s housing market is consistently competitive, soaring home prices have made sellers reluctant while high interest rates have buyers bashful. But the commonwealth has a building problem too.
According to census data, between 2010 and 2020, more than 400,000 people moved to Massachusetts, but only 164,000 units of housing were built in that time.
In a place where the average age of a home is 57 years old, homes aren’t just unaffordable, they don’t exist. Developers, realtors, and lawmakers in search of a solution are eyeing existing land and new laws.
“We were the first community to pass our town meeting rules to comply with the new MBTA zoning law,” said State Rep. Michelle Ciccolo.
She represents the town of Lexington where the average home sold last year for $1.5 million, according to realtor.com.
“It’s completely unaffordable,” Ciccolo said. “When I was growing up here in town, our teachers and our firefighters could afford to live in town. And that’s not the case anymore”.
She said a town once reluctant to grow is now removing zoning barriers to create more multi-family housing. Under the MBTA multifamily zoning act guidelines, Lexington was required to set aside a minimum of 50 acres for new development. Ciccolo said the town decided to allocate more than 220 acres.
She’s hopeful new development coupled with lower home prices can address another issue created by the lack of housing – outmigration.
A report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation recently found that 110,000 people between the ages of 26 and 35 left the state in the last three years.
“You know, families want to see their kids be able to stay here once they’ve gone through college and have jobs. it can be decades, if ever, before they’ll earn enough money to be able to come back to town, which is really not acceptable” said Ciccolo.
Maraglia’s daughter lives in New Hampshire and her son lives in Rhode Island. She said they would absolutely come back if they could find a place that’s affordable.
“It’s just untouchable out here for a lot of people,” she said.
That’s partly why she bought her house in Abington. She hopes to see it filled with grandkids and that one day will hopefully live closer to her.