By Jon Keller

SALEM (CBS) – For the second month in a row, the median price of a home in Massachusetts is more than half a million dollars. For many hopeful buyers, that is just too high and the prices continue to rise.

“We keep thinking it can’t go higher and yet it does,” says Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. “It’s the number one issue most mayors in the Greater Boston region talk about.”

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She’s talking about housing costs, through the roof here for years but now rocketing into the stratosphere. According to a State House News Service report citing research from The Warren Group, the median price of a single-family home in Massachusetts was $525,000 last month, the second straight month over the half-million-dollar plateau.

And that comes as no surprise. By the end of last year, median home sale prices in three Eastern Massachusetts counties had already blown past the $500,000 mark, with Essex and Barnstable closing in. You have to go to Bristol or Worcester counties to find median prices below $400k.

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“The pandemic has been a huge part of it,” says Kendall Luce of Compass Real Estate, who noted the intense demand for existing homes and condos that’s been turbo-charging prices for a while has been exacerbated by supply-chain issues putting a damper on new construction. “One of the biggest things that we’re hearing about is price increases in lumber. Building products all over the place are hugely up but lumber in particular, the prices have gone out of control.”

The state recently passed a long-awaited bill making it easier to create new housing. But red tape and not-in-my-backyard-ism still deters new development. “And it’s contributing really to the loss of our character if we can’t have a diverse population of people living here,” says Driscoll, who believes a sea change in public attitudes is needed.

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“We cannot have the ‘I got mine, pull up the ladder’ approach and still support the housing demands we have in the Commonwealth, particularly in Greater Boston,” she says.

Jon Keller