The Globe’s Kimberly Blanton comes out of retirement long enough to write an article about the “downtown” Boston real estate market (or what I call, “Boston Proper”).

The data as reported seems pretty accurate, to me. The Listing Information Network, Inc (LINK) pulls data from the Registry of Deeds, much like The Warren Group does. Not just listings that are entered into LINK, but all deeds filed at the registry. This means, all FSBOs, foreclosures, and developer-direct sales.

The headline on the article is true, but misleading to a certain extent (would you expect a real estate agent to say otherwise?).

I think it’s encouraging that the downtown Boston market has remained stable in prices, during the past couple of years. Certainly, it’s kept people from developing a sense of dread or fear about things.

It’s no secret to anyone who has read my blog over the past three years (this blog started in March, 2005) that sales volume has dropped off, over the past year. That data is irrefutable.

What it means and what you can predict or forecast as a result of that is another thing altogether, of course.

I don’t have too much to add to the article. I am actually surprised that prices in the South End have continued to increase. It almost defies reason, given what is happening in other neighborhoods and across the nation. You could probably count on two hands (or one, if you only have one hand) the number of neighborhoods in America that have had price increases (the city of Charlotte, NC, for one, has seen increases).

I don’t think the 10% increase in prices in the South End or the 33% decrease in Back Bay prices means much of anything. I think the volume drop, however, reflects the uncertainty going on in the local and national market. Owners will simply not sell in this market, unless they have to or are in such good shape that they can discount the sales prices of their homes, while still walking away with a good amount of profit.

I think prices dropped on Beacon Hill because less rich people listed their homes for sale and/or less rich people were in the market to buy.

What you should not believe is that someone who listed his/her home for $765,000 had to drop the price to $660,000 in order to find a buyer.

I am surprised that prices rose in South Boston, too. There seems to be a glut of inventory right now. Certainly a lot of room for negotiation on the part of buyers.

Of course, that’s another example of how “average prices” can be misconstrued to reflect the strength or weakness of any one market.

Source: Condo sales in Boston drop off; Prices are also down in a market formerly seen as bulletproof – By Kimberly Blanton, The Boston Globe

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