Boston, it’s time to admit you have an inventory problem. For a long time you denied it. You said that your inventory challenges were no big deal, that they were temporary, but have you considered that maybe you’re living in denial? Have you considered that this might be a long-term problem and that you need to do something about it?
Take a look around, Boston. Your “for-sale condo inventory” has been shrinking for about as long as my seven-year-old daughter has been alive. On April 1, 2006, you had 2,853 condos on the market. Now, that’s the type of inventory I would expect from a City of Champions.
But a few years later, when your April 1 inventory barely broke 2,000, theexcuses started. Back then, you told me that listings were light because of the economic crisis. Boston, I love you, I believed you wholeheartedly, but isn’t it funny how when the real estate market turned around, you had even fewer listings, barely over 1,000? And isn’t it funny as well that as we see some record pricing this year, your April 1 inventory is down to 475 units on the market?
Just 475 condos on market. That type of public display is embarrassing, Boston. I suppose you’re going to tell me that people just don’t want record prices for their real estate anymore, that record pricing isn’t much of a motivator anymore.
I know you say that there’s nowhere to build, Boston, but, please, we’ve heard it all before. Admit it, there are lots of places to build. Really, how much land do you need to build condos? I recently heard that on the site of just one garage a developer is planning to put up six buildings ranging in height from six to 60 stories. And, guess what, he’s keeping half the garage intact. Yeah, Boston, how many garages do you have that could be put to better use? How many parking lots do you have that could fit buildings? What’s more important:housing cars or housing people? You have to make a decision and the sooner you make it, the better it will be for everybody.
Boston, have you noticed the impact your lack of inventory has had on the people and places around you? A few years back, Charlestown had 161 condos on the market. You know what it had on April 1 this year? Fifteen. That kind of explains why Charlestown’s median asking price went from $469K to $899K over the last couple of years, doesn’t it? For crying out loud, Boston, Charlestown’s median ask is approaching Beacon Hill’s ($947K on April 1). If that doesn’t convince you to get some inventory, what will?
Really, Boston, it’s time to take a sober look at your neighborhoods and the communities around them and acknowledge that they have only one-fourth or one-fifth or one-tenth of the inventory that they used to have and that it didn’t happen overnight. It’s time to take a look at the median prices in these areas, before the median hits infinity—and still gets four offers—and realize the ridiculously high medians that you are seeing in 2014 are a direct result of your lack of inventory.
And, really, it’s time to work day-by-day to do something about it. Boston, you know I’m only telling you this because I care about you.
My recent post concerned the precipitous decline of modestly priced condos in the Hub.
Check out these graphs (below) that chart the amount of modestly priced inventory in a variety of Hub neighborhoods over the last eight years. This timeline covers part of one of the greatest run up in values in local real estate history, the housing market crash, and the Boston real estate rebound. Yet, you will quickly notice that the charts I made look like repeated and feeble attempts to draw ski slopes.
My December column for Banker and Tradesman focused on the challenges of buying a small Greater Boston multifamily building for investment.
For starters, two to four unit buildings rarely come up in the most valuable Boston neighborhoods. Back Bay sold only two small multi families in the first 10 months of 2013. And Beacon Hill hasn’t sold any MLS listed small multi families since March 17, 2011.
In a number of other Greater Boston neighborhoods where small multies are available, despite significant adverse changes in lending and a previous glut of short sales and foreclosures, sales prices have been surging.
In Dorchester, which makes up around 40% of Boston’s small multi sales, the median sales price has gone from $300,000 to $400,000 in just two years.
Even in Everett, as many as 60 potential buyers would come to the first open house of a newly listed small multi.
To learn more about the small multi market appreciation, click here or email me for the whole Banker and Tradesman story.
This short–to the point–ebook is an excellent reference for Greater Boston condominium buyers and sellers. Not only do the neighborhood profiles found in CONTEXT make it easy to see how a specific condominium compares to other condominiums typically sold in a neighborhood, CONTEXT also clearly shows how nine of the most important and most valuable Greater Boston condominium neighborhoods compare on 17 different metrics. If you want to know how a condo or neighborhood compares in median sales price, median price paid per square foot, average condo fee, as well as the likelihood of finding renovated condos, condos with a view, a deck or parking, and much more, then get CONTEXT.
The neighborhoods included in CONTEXT are Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, South Boston and the South End,
Lots of visuals and short paragraphs make this ebook extremely light reading, on par with reading the Metro newspaper.
Don’t make a mistake: Get CONTEXT before you buy or sell.
Looking for a Boston condo but, can’t find anything you like at a price you like?
Is the challenge the price or the neighborhood?
To get an insight into that age old question, I broke Boston’s first half condominium sales into ten different price ranges. Then, I totaled up the transactions by Boston neighborhood.
And then, I made charts, 13 of them. They visually communicate the amount transactions as the price goes up, so they tend to take the shape of ski slopes, mountain climbs and Bell Curves. Check them out in the gallery below! In it, you’ll find distribution for 13 different Boston neighborhoods, including Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Midtown, the North End, the South End, South Boston, the Fenway, the Waterfront and Roslindale.
Or if you want to know the most prolific Boston neighborhoods in certain price ranges, check out my featured post in Curbed.
Sure, you could go up in price, but if you check out the charts, you just might find there’s more opportunity to buy the condo you wanted in a neighborhood you didn’t know you wanted, LOL.
In Greater Boston real estate, 2013 is becoming the year of the “over-ask” offer, so I compiled a list of the offers that went most over-ask in the first five months of the year.
To compile the list I reviewed sales in Brookline, Brighton, Cambridge, Somerville, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, South End, South Boston, Jamaica Plain, Midtown, The Seaport District and Charlestown.
About 40%of the condos and single family homes that sold took over-ask offers. Some offers went way over-ask, some went way, way, over-ask and some made my Top 5 over-asks through May 31.
|Address||Sales Price||Amount Over-Ask|
|37 Beacon #63-64, Beacon Hill||$2,300,000||$200,000|
|79 Chandler #9, South End||$2,461,000||$166,000|
|49 Beacon #3, Beacon Hill||$1,050,000||$151,000|
|59 Sixth St #59, East Cambridge||$885,000||$136,000|
|61 Chandler #2, South End||$1,725,000||$126,000|
|Address||Sales Price||Amount Over-Ask|
|66 Sparks St, West Cambridge||$5,000,000||$1,300,000|
|79 Coolidge St, Brookline||$1,126,000||$376,000|
|26 Parker St, West Cambridge||$1,355,000||$360,000|
|245 Grove St, West Cambridge||$2,700,000||$350,000|
|54A Burroughs, Jamaica Plain||$1,850,000||$251,000|
|Address||Sale Price||Amount Over-Ask|
|2,4,and 6 Brimmer, Beacon Hill||$8,250,000||$1,500,000|
|93 Kirkland, Cambridge||$2,552,000||$552,000|
|20 Marie Ave, Cambridge||$1,580,000||$395,000|
|145 Larch Road, Cambridge||$1,235,000||$300,000|
|133 Erie St, Cambridge||$760,000||$261,000|
My featured column in Curbed this week focused on the low inventory market.
Boston’s condo inventory for June 1 was a little over 1/2 the amount it was on June 1, 2012 and less than 1/3 of the June 1, 2011 inventory.
Without looking at the numbers, what are the signs that inventory is too low in the Boston market?
How far over-ask do offers have to be to win?
What’s the most over-ask offer I have seen in the May sales?
Check out my column and find out.
About David Bates
David Bates is a top producing real estate agent who has sold condominiums, single families, and investment property in a variety of Boston neighborhoods and many of the city's better suburbs.
His insights appear not only in in this original content blog, but also in the most established local media, including Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine, Boston.Curbed.com, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Bloomberg News and NECN.
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