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Downtown's big sales slowdown

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 16, 2009 09:00 AM

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The downtown condo market is certainly down, but itís far from being out.

Thatís the sense I came away with after working last week on a story for the Globe on luxury condo sales in Boston.

A new report by PrimeTime Communities, a real estate research and marketing firm, found that, on average, new condo developments in Boston are averaging about one sale per month.

Thatís definitely down from the boom times, when many of these projects sold out before they even opened. At the least, trendy new luxury condo and loft complexes were averaging three to four sales a month, not one.

Yet while sales activity is down dramatically, it has hardly fallen off the map altogether. Thatís in contrast to the suburbs, where the report found most new condo projects were barely selling a unit every other month.

While sales activity has slowed, pricing has held steady, according to the report, which looked at 10 projects ranging from the glitzy InterContinental overlooking the harbor to loft style complexes in the South End.

As they grapple with a much more challenging market, downtown condo developers are balancing the need to move inventory with the desire to get the highest price.

The posh new Battery Wharf project on the waterfront in the North End struggled to keep pace with one sale a month, but the average price Ė north of $1,100 per square foot Ė would make many other developers envious.

By contrast, Boston Residential was able to sell nearly four units a month at 285 Columbus, which straddles the South End and Back Bay, by offering prices significantly below $1,000 a square foot.

These may be tough times in the real estate market, but in downtown Boston, luxury condos are still selling. Still, just donít count on anybody breaking any sales records for the next couple of years.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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