Should I buy a Boston condo or wait? Are prices over-inflated?

These are not easy questions to answer. The simple answer it depends. Let me explain

  • While Boston condo valuations have  been all over the map, they will more than likely return towards the middle range of their historical levels.
  • Currently, downtown Boston real estate is quite expensive.
  • But unusually low rates are keeping monthly payments at reasonable levels, and should those low rates persist, it’s possible they could prop up valuations indefinitely. But lets face it a Seller’s market never dies of old age.
  • It’s also possible that due to unique economic factors, valuations could settle at a different equilibrium level than they have historically. But this would likely be subtle and somewhat risky to bank on.

So where does that leave a potential buyer? It depends on the situation, and whether one is more concerned with future changes in monthly payments or prices.

Long-term hold 

If one is buying a Boston high rise condo to keep for the long haul, and financing the purchase with a fixed mortgage, then the main priority is probably to lock in a reasonable long-term monthly payment. In this case, it may well make sense to buy.  Monthly payments are lower than the historical average even despite high ac-acquisition prices.

Short-term hold 

If on the other hand a buyer isn’t planning to keep a Boston Seaport condo for long, then it makes sense to be more concerned with what prices will be when the time comes to sell.  While it’s possible that valuations could remain elevated, current price levels suggest more downside than upside. However, this will become less of an issue as time marches on and incomes and rents have a chance to catch up with prices. (To put some very rough numbers on it: 5 years feels risky; 10 years a lot less so).

Every situation is different, but the rough rule of thumb is:

  • If monthly payments are the primary concern, it may make sense to buy.
  • If future price changes are the primary concern, it may be best to hold off until valuations are a bit more reasonable.

The good news here is that there isn’t a lot of pressure to do either one. There have been times where it was crazy to buy Beacon Hill condos for sale, and times where it was crazy not to. This is neither of those times. Either choice is reasonable, depending on circumstances, so you can do what best fits your own circumstances and lifestyle.

 

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