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Downtown condo sales may be down, but prices are not, Bostonís luxury market guru contends

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis September 15, 2009 09:00 AM

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The downtown condo market has become a popular target lately.

Iíve taken a few shots myself and thereís no lack of ammunition out there if you are so inclined.

Sales at an array of new, downtown condo projects have fallen to a rather sluggish rate of one per month, according to the recently released PrimeTime Urban Report.

But not so fast, argues Kevin Ahearn, the dean of the downtown condo market whose sales team has can be found behind just about every major new luxury project.

If you are interested in a statistical duel, Kevinís your man, because he will bury you in a blizzard of stats and numbers.

Anyway, not long after I weighed in on the troubles facing the downtown condo market in this blog and a column for Banker & Tradesman, Ahearn was firing back.

As usual, he provides some great stats to back the view that all the handwringers out there like me just arenít seeing the true picture.

ďI guess Iím living in another Boston,íí Ahearn writes.

Ahearn acknowledges sales slowed in the fallout from the Great Recession, but notes there are signs that activity has been picking up in the downtown market.

Thatís plausible, with PrimeTimeís report only covering the first half of the year.

But prices have more than held firm, contends Ahearn, who offers some intriguing stats to back up his argument.

Ahearn examined four years of resales in the top end of the downtown condo market, looking at 134 transactions from 2005 to 2009. His survey included the top properties, including the One Charles, the Ritz-Carlton towers and the InterContinental.

Just under 12 percent of these condo sellers were stuck with a loss, and of these only five lost 10 percent or more on their resale.

By contrast, more than 84 percent resold their luxury units for a gain.

That does not address first-time sales of units in new projects.

But it should certainly spur a lively debate, donít you think?

This blog is not written or edited by 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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