the
Boston Real Estate Blog

John Ford Realty
137 Charles Street, Boston
realtyford@yahoo.com
617-595-3712
617-720-5454
151 Tremont Street
617-482-0010

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Boston Condo Weekly Update, April 1, 2005

Below is a report of sales and listing activity for the past week. Information is derived from LINK, the online database that is used by most Boston real estate agents.

New listings: 215

Back on market (listings that went under agreement but deals fell through): 15

Price changes (almost always downward, but some go up): 81

Under agreements: 106

Off market (variety of reasons, but sometimes these are old listings that never sell): 13

My opinion:New listings total goes up, which is a good sign.  Under agreements are a bit weaker than I would expect.

Weekly Boston Condo and Real Estate Sales and Listings Update, June 14, 2008

The following information is from the local MLS database, as of June 14, 2008, compared to (June 7, 2008) (and June 16, 2007 – where available).

Total # of condos for sale in the city of Boston: 2,485 (2,524) (2,672)
Average # of days on market: 123 (120) (112)

Number of condos sold (closed) over past 30 days: 456 (447) (504)
Average days on market, sold units: 92 (96) (100)
Ratio, closing (sales) price to original (list) price: 92% (93%) (93%)

Median close price, 2008: $380,000
Median close price, 2007: $398,000

Average close price, 2008: $512,752
Average close price, 2007: $533,243

Number of properties going under agreement, last 30 days: 439 (456) (507)
Average days on market: 89 (88) (N/A)

Velocity: $233,814,983 ($225,473,575) ($271,954,103)
(Velocity is the # of units sold during last 30 days multiplied by the $ amount)

Total Market Value, condos for sale: $1,513,989,315 ($1,538,971,031) (N/A)

My thoughts: Notice that inventory is lower than last year.

Based on information provided to and compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc. covering the period 5/14/2008 – 6/14/2008, and the period 5/16/2007 – 6/16/2007.

Weekly Boston Condo and Real Estate Sales and Listings Update, June 7, 2008

The following information is from the local MLS database, as of June 7,2008, compared to (May 31, 2008) (and June 9, 2007 – where available).

Total # of condos for sale in the city of Boston: 2,524 (2,542) (2,649)
Average # of days on market: 120 (121) (114)

Number of condos sold (closed) over past 30 days: 447 (422) (504)
Average days on market, sold units: 96 (92) (107)
Ratio, closing (sales) price to original (list) price: 93% (94%) (94%)

Median close price, 2008: $388,000
Median close price, 2007: $380,000

Average close price, 2008: $504,415
Average close price, 2007: $524,782

Number of properties going under agreement, last 30 days: 456 (445) (534)
Average days on market: 88 (96) (N/A)

Velocity: $225,473,575 ($211,372,141) ($264,490,560)
(Velocity is the # of units sold during last 30 days multiplied by the $ amount)

Total Market Value, condos for sale: $1,538,971,031 ($1,531,659,902) (N/A)

My thoughts: The Boston condo market shows resiliency, in the face of relentless bad news.

Based on information provided to and compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc. covering the period 5/6/2008 – 6/6/2008, and the period 5/9/2007 – 6/9/2007.

Weekly Boston Condo Sales and Listings Report, May 30, 2008

This week’s Boston Real Estate Condo Market Reports are now available.

The market reports provide readers with detailed information on the state of the Boston real estate market.

The reports include data on inventory, recent sales, and price per square foot of condos for sale and recently closed.

In addition to a summary report of sales across the city, the reports include detailed listings and sales information for 11 of the most popular neighborhoods in Boston, broken down by ZIP code.

The available reports include detailed data for the following ZIP Codes:

02108 – Beacon Hill
02109 – Financial District / Waterfront
02110 – Financial District / Waterfront
02111 – Chinatown / Leather District
02113 – North End
02114 – Beacon Hill
02115 – Back Bay
02116 – Back Bay / South End
02118 – South End / Lower Roxbury
02210 – Seaport District / South Boston Waterfront
02215 – Back Bay / The Fenway

You may always access the most recent reports by following the link on the menu at the top of each of my blog’s pages.

Weekly Boston Condo and Boston Real Estate Sales and Listings Update, May 31, 2008

The following information is from the local MLS database, as of May 31, 2008, compared to (May 24, 2008) (and June 2, 2007 – where available).

Total # of condos for sale in the city of Boston: 2,542 (2,537) (2,643)
Average # of days on market: 121 (120) (112)

Number of condos sold (closed) over past 30 days: 422 (370) (460)
Average days on market, sold units: 92 (100) (110)
Ratio, closing (sales) price to original (list) price: 94% (94%) (94%)

Median close price, 2008: $375,500
Median close price, 2007: $385,000

Average close price, 2008: $500,882
Average close price, 2007: $507,332

Number of properties going under agreement, last 30 days: 445 (498) (538)
Average days on market: 96 (97) (N/A)

Velocity: $211,372,141 ($192,198,796) ($233,372,986)
(Velocity is the # of units sold during last 30 days multiplied by the $ amount)

Total Market Value, condos for sale: $1,531,659,902 ($1,536,710,850) (N/A)

My thoughts: Big jump in closings, which is what happened last year this week, as well. Will drop off, now. For the first time in memory, average and median prices dropped below last year’s numbers. Anomaly or signs of a long-term trend, I don’t know.

Based on information provided to and compiled by the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, Inc. covering the period 4/30/2008 through 5/31/2008, and the period 5/2/2007 – 6/2/2007.

South Boston real estate market goes sideways

Regarding South Boston real estate sales, the following appeared in this week’s Banker & Tradesman:

During the first four months of this year, 25 condos were sold, compared to 29 for the same period in 2007, according to The Warren Group, parent company of Banker & Tradesman. During the same months in 2005 and 2006, there 22 sales in each year.

Consider the Macallen Building on nearby Dorchester Avenue, developed by Pappas Properties. About half of the 140 condos have been sold since sales commenced in December of 2006, according to the Suffolk Registry of Deeds.

But the last 6 units have sold at deep discounts … [a]mong the largest of the price breaks was an 18.6 percent discount for a one-bedroom unit that initially was priced at $750,000 and ultimately sold for $610,000, The biggest reduction came for a two-bedroom dwelling that had an asking price of $1.3 million but sold for $1 million, a 23 percent concession.

That’s not really a “loss”, of course, since the list prices were best guesses of value, not what someone owed on a mortgage loan or paid to build it.

Further into the B&T article:

In addition, resales at the Trolley House, a 24-unit complex on nearby West Second Street, have been disappointing. A two-bedroom unit sold last month for $503,000, from an asking price of $589,000, a 14.6 markdown.

A broker familiar with the Trolley House said sellers are taking a loss because home values have been flat for the last three years in South Boston.

“Some of the first people who bought overpaid at the peak of the market and they are taking a loss selling now,” said the agent, who asked not to be identified.

According to the public record, of the three units that sold at the Trolley House during the past six months, two owners broke even, at least on paper. One unit was bought in 2005 for $440,000 and was resold at $475,000. One unit was bought at $475,000 and was resold at $500,000.

Of course, after broker commissions and closing costs, I would assume there was no money left over. But, that doesn’t paint as dire a picture as the B&T article, does it?

** The third unit sold in 2005 for $562,000, then resold in 2008 for $503,000.

Source: Slow Condominium Market Speeds South Boston Rentals; Cardinal Cushing High School Redevelopment Project Banks on Demand for Transit-Oriented Apartment Units – By Thomas Grillo, Banker & Tradesman (subscription required)

Weekly Boston Condo Sales and Listings Report, May 23, 2008

This week’s Boston Real Estate Condo Market Reports are now available.

The market reports provide readers with detailed information on the state of the Boston real estate market.

The reports include data on inventory, recent sales, and price per square foot of condos for sale and recently closed.

In addition to a summary report of sales across the city, the reports include detailed listings and sales information for 11 of the most popular neighborhoods in Boston, broken down by ZIP code.

You may always access the most recent reports by following the link on the menu at the top of each of my blog’s pages.

Splitting hairs

Data released shows that segments of the real estate market are seeing big changes:

In April 2007 homes for sale under $500,000 accounted for 40 percent of all sales and homes priced from $500,000 to $1 million accounted for 45 percent of all sales. That shifted in April 2008, with homes under $500,000 accounting for 64 percent of all sales and homes from $500,000 to $1 million accounting for 26 percent of all sales, the association reported.

This is in California, but I believe it’s an accurate picture of what’s happening, across the nation.

I never really thought about it before. Is median and average sales prices thrown off by levels of sales in different segments? It appears to be so.

Lower end, and perhaps, higher end, homes are selling, while the “middle-end” buyer sits it out.

That’s going to mess with the data.

This is what’s happened in Boston, in Beacon Hill, for example. “Median” prices went down, but only because in certain price ranges, sales stopped.

Weekly Boston Condo and Boston Real Estate Sales and Listings Update, May 24, 2008

The following information is from the local MLS database, as of May 24, 2008, compared to (May 17, 2008) (and May 19, 2007 – where available).

Total # of condos for sale in the city of Boston: 2,537 (2,575) (2,700)
Average # of days on market: 120 (117) (110)

Number of condos sold (closed) over past 30 days: 370 (343) (376)
Average days on market, sold units: 100 (104) (128)
Ratio, closing (sales) price to original (list) price: 94% (94%) (95%)

Median close price, 2008: $400,000
Median close price, 2007: $385,000

Average close price, 2008: $519,456
Average close price, 2007: $484,803

Number of properties going under agreement, last 30 days: 498 (499) (549)
Average days on market: 97 (92) (N/A)

Velocity: $192,198,796 ($187,096,716) ($182,286,020)
(Velocity is the # of units sold during last 30 days multiplied by the $ amount)

Total Market Value, condos for sale: $1,536,710,850 ($1,556,060,592) (N/A)

My thoughts: Market picked up a bit this past week, and now things will slow down, after the holiday.

Based on information provided to and compiled by the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, Inc. covering the period 4/24/2008 through 5/24/2008, and the period 4/19/2007 – 5/19/2007.

Beacon Hill prices remain steady, year-to-year

The Wall Street Journal ran a story recently where it was reported that prices on Beacon Hill had dropped, perhaps by “as much as 33%”. (“As much as?” Does that mean it might be considerably less? Shouldn’t the reporter have finished the statement … “as much as 33%, or as little as 3%.”)

Here’s the quote:

That sale typifies many parts of core Boston these days: flat to modestly higher prices but a longer time to sell. Prices in the city’s core are off less than 1% over the past year, according to first-quarter data from Listing Information Network, Boston’s MLS system. The real difference today is that homes are staying on the market for 111 days on average, up from 85 days in 2005.

Prices in key neighborhoods, such as Back Bay, the South End, Fenway and the Waterfront, are all up between 3% and 10%. Beacon Hill and the North End, however, are down sharply, as much as 33%. That’s partly the result of a slew of high-end properties that hit the market in 2006 and 2007 that were priced as high as $1.5 million, skewing the price data upward. Even without those sales, however, the median price would be down by double-digit amounts.

While the data may be accurate, you might end up drawing the wrong conclusion.

Prices of equal or similar properties did not drop 33% from one year to the next on Beacon Hill.

Here are graphics of sales for the periods January 1 – April 30 for 2007 and 2008. Analyze, then come back.

2007.jpg

– click to enlarge, 2007 sales

2008.jpg

– click to enlarge, 2008 sales

See any big differences?

No.

The only differences that pop out at me are that 2007 had one big sale, $4,700,000, 2008 had four $1 million+ sales, and 2008 had four sales below $250,000.

The Journal article says that the big-ticket sales in 2007 skewed those figures; no, in fact, it’s because of the four sub-$250,000 sales and multiple $300,000 – $400,000 sales that 2008 looks bad compared to last year.

Without the four sub-$250,000 sales, in fact, median sales price would be somewhere around $512,500, pretty close to this year’s median of $522,750. Average sales price would be somewhere around $642,600.

More importantly, if you look at the breakdown of sales each year, you’ll see that each range had around the same number of sales (except $700,000 – $800,000!).

What did you get for the median price, each year?

2007 median sale:

Steps from Charles Street! Renovated sunny corner two bedroom condominium with many windows, offers new hardwood floors, designer kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting throughout, LG washer/dryer combo unit, conveniently located in the condominium, and common laundry located in the basement as well additional storage! Common roof deck with spectacular views of the Charles River!

Approx. Living Area: 755 sq. ft. ($686.09/sq. ft.) Approx. Acres: 0 Garage Spaces: 0 — Association Fee: $331.47 Fee Includes: Heat, Hot Water, Water, Sewer, Master Insurance, Exterior Maintenance, Snow Removal

2008 median sale:

Well situated and inviting 1+ bedroom duplex condo just steps from Charles Street. Full staircase leading to guest sleeping area/study and beautiful panoramic private roof deck. Front facing with fabulous light and open floor plan. Renovated spacious eat-in kitchen. Hardwood floors and exposed brick detail. Extra private storage and common laundry. Professionally managed association with 80% owner occupancy.

Approx. Living Area: 615 sq. ft. ($747.97/sq. ft.) Approx. Acres: Garage Spaces: 0 — Association Fee: $270.61 Fee Includes: Heat, Hot Water, Water, Sewer, Master Insurance, Extra Storage

So, in 2007, the median was a two-bedroom, 750 square foot+ condo; in 2008, the median sale was a one bedroom, 600+ square foot condo.

This is a slowdown?

** Oh, big caveat: the WSJ uses data reported by LINK, whereas I used MLSPIN. LINK is more complete, but since both databases showed drops one year to the next, I would assume that everything is the same, proportionately. Also, LINK is not “Boston’s MLS system”. It is one of two multiple listing services, the other being MLSPIN.)

Source: Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, Inc., for the periods 01/01/2007-04/30/2007 and 01/01/2008-04/30/2008, collected from information provided by third-party sources.

More: Where Home Prices Are Holding Up – By Jeff D Opdyke, The Wall Street Journal

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