Classifying Boston Condominium Neighborhoods

David Bates / December 12, 2012-1:38 pm

I thought I would try to classify the condominium market of different Boston neighborhoods.

1) Enviable – These neighborhoods include Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Brookline. These are “statement” neighborhoods. They have many of the city’s most expensive condominiums and a lot of $1 million-plus sales — like Back Bay where nearly one third of the condominium sales topped a million dollars (through 9/30). Their chief vibe is that they have proximity to city locations and city conveniences like train and retail, but a suburban feel to them, in that they feel safe or have a good school system (Brookline). These condo markets are some of the original Boston condo markets which are more than forty years old, and today’s development projects tend to be smaller. Put a hole in the ground in an enviable market, and no doubt you are looking at $1 million plus condos.

2) Established – These neighborhoods include Cambridge and the South End. They are contiguous to and more urban and diverse than enviable neighborhoods. They include rich, poor, white and black demographics. Their top locations and newly developed properties can definitely support million dollar sales and even higher. However they do not sell the very highest price condos — those are reserved for enviable markets. Significant development in established markets came a little later than enviable markets. When someone says they are buying in an established location, no one argues. The condos in established markets tend to have better finishes than enviable neighborhoods.

3) Emerged – These neighborhoods include South Boston, Jamaica Plain and Somerville. They are often adjacent to established neighborhoods. Condominiums in these neighborhoods didn’t start to become in vogue until about fifteen years ago, and today they have lots of development. They are no longer emerging, they have emerged. They are hotbeds for younger, hipper and alternative demographics, but they can get downsizers too. They can be more challenging commuting locations, and sizable portions of them don’t have T trains. They generate a million dollar sale here and there, but a $600K condo in these markets is something to behold — big, bright, shiny and new.

4) Enhancing/Other – These neighborhoods include Midtown, Waterfront, the Seaport and the Fenway. They tend to be locations in transition, where development often happens with the construction of a big building. They have some really high sales, and the appeal to living in these markets is great buildings with great views and amenities. Enhancing neighborhoods could also include neighborhoods that seem perched to become the next emerging market; where early innovators are trying, like Dorchester or Roslindale. Other is just other. Neighborhoods where not much is being said about the condominium market.