Condo sales in downtown Boston fall while prices slowly rise
Home sales in Boston's downtown condo market slowed in the first quarter of 2011 while median prices largely held their values, according to new data released today by the Listing Information Network, a private company that tracks the city's core condo market.
Downtown condominium sales fell by 13.11 percent in the first quarter compared to the same time last year in the 12-neighborhood area including Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the South End, according to network data. Median prices, however, rose by 1.25 percent to $485,000 in the first quarter as many sellers refused to budge on price.
Joe Schutt, a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in the Back Bay, said the city's harsh winter and the slow economy kept buyers away and sellers from putting homes on the market. He said there are many buyers now looking for properties but frustrated by a lack of well-priced and quality inventory.
"It was a very slow winter,'' said Schutt. "If you know any sellers who are interested to sell, have them contact a realtor. We are trying to get the word out there that it is not as gloom and doom as people think."
While sales slowed citywide, some areas performed much better than others. For example, buyers purchased 25 condominiums in Beacon Hill in the first quarter, a 21.88 percent drop compared to last year. However, consumers in the Fenway purchased 20 condominiums during the first three months of the year, representing a 53.85 percent jump compared to last year, according to network data.
The city's luxury condo market, defined as multifamily properties that include full services like a valet and doorman, also slowed significantly in the first quarter of year -- dropping 11.93 percent compared to the same time last year. Median prices in the higher-end market took a hit -- falling to $752,000, a 11.53 percent drop compared to the same time last year.
Debra Taylor Blair, president of the data-tracking service, said numbers indicate that despite slow sales, the city's inner core is holding its value. While luxury prices are down from last quarter, they are still up by 30.78 percent compared to a median price of $575,000 during the first quarter of 2005, when housing prices around the state were at their peak.
"Prices are resilient in the city," Taylor Blair said. "In the scope of things, we are doing remarkably well."