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The Problem With Boston’s Condominium Production Goal

David Bates / June 22, 2017-10:14 am

Not long ago, the mayor said Boston needed 53,000 new housing units by 2030.

I recently posted about how the number might be too low.

But does anyone recall how many condos His Honor said the Hub needed?

Oh, he didn’t?

Clearly the omission must be a mistake?

The city is careful to track so many aspects of housing production, like affordable housing, housing for seniors, and green and sustainable housing. Shouldn’t condominium production goals be a part of the Boston housing plan?

After all, too few condos for too many buyers is already wreaking havoc on the city.

Median sale prices have skyrocketed.

The price by the square foot has ballooned.

At last look, on May 31, seven Boston neighborhoods had median condominium “for sale” list prices that topped one million dollars. Incredible!

What’s more is that when a newly listed condominium comes to market, the consumer response resembles a piranha feeding.

As many already know, the Hub is well on its way to become a city of princes and paupers.

And, of course, nothing expands the economic divide between folks further than real estate ownership – especially when that real estate is appreciating wicked fast.

Line up 100 young Boston renters and 100 homeowners. Tally the wealth and compare. Even Evil Knievel couldn’t jump that gap.

Boston doesn’t just need more homes, it needs more condominiums.

When a market moves, it can either benefit a few investors or thousands of residents.

Your choice, Boston.

When rents increase, it has no impact on homeowners.

For a city so adept at setting and tracking housing goals, it seems you’ve fallen a bit short on the home ownership front.

Census data pegs the Boston’s owner occupancy at 34% overall.

Unfortunately, the new housing produced promises to drop that already low rate.

According to the city, between 2011 and the beginning of June 2017, Boston produced 3,033 condos and 10,049 rental units. So, even if every single one of those condos were owner occupied – and they won’t be – the new inventory would max out at 23% owner occupancy.

Keep on approving those wicked cool apartments instead of mainstream condominium developments.

Keep on adding to the wealth of investors over residents.

Stand idle while housing affordability accelerates an exodus.

And, maybe one day, we’ll see a “Boston First” candidate for mayor.

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