The real estate market boomed in Massachusetts in 2020 despite a pandemic that kept many folks at arm's length from each other. The Warren Group, which tracks such things, says more single-family homes sold in Massachusetts last year than in any year since 2004.

A total of 61,469 single-family homes were sold in Massachusetts last year, an increase of 3.9 percent from the year before. The median sale price was $445,500, according to statistics cited by the Warren Group. That's an increase of 11.4 percent from 2019.

"In the wake of the first COVID-19 lockdown way back in March, single-family home sales took a nosedive for the entire second quarter," Warren Group CEO Tim Warren said in a company podcast, according to the State House News Service. "If you told me back then that by the end of the year that the total number of sales would surpass 2019, there's no way I would have believed you ... yet here we are. Another record-setting year in the books for Massachusetts real estate."

The Warren Group stated many of the folks who sold their homes were fleeing city life. Many went west to the Berkshires, while others bought new homes on Cape Cod.

The pandemic taught many of us that you no longer need to be close to the office to work remotely. The closing of restaurants, museums, theaters, and other attractions dimmed some of the glitters of big city life. Rising crime rates helped in that regard, too.

So after a brief period of flocking to urban areas, the move to the suburbs is back on. The trend had been to entice young professionals and empty-nesters into once declining cites by developing new luxury apartments above trendy storefronts and near mass transit stations.

The trend reversal could be devastating to cities like New Bedford that were hoping for a renaissance in the downtown area. It will be interesting to see what impact all of this has on the declining suburban shopping experience, a.k.a. malls.

Attitudes can change in a flash. It's amazing the impact this pandemic has had on our lives, including where we choose to call home.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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