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Under $1 million, homes shockingly scarce

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 5, 2014 10:23 AM

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If almost all the listings in your dream town seem to be over a million, you truly aren't imagining things.

Homes worth at least $1 million now make up the majority of homes for sale, and in some cases, the vast majority, in some of Greater Boston's most affluent suburbs.

For example, if you were house hunting in Wellesley for something under $1 million during the first three months of the year, chances are you would have walked away disappointed.

Only 12 percent - yes, that's 12 percent- of the homes put up for sale in Wellesley during the first quarter were under $1 million. That means the rest, 88 percent, were listed for at least at million and often much more, Pinnacle Residential Group finds a new report.

The photo here, which comes from's real estate listings, is of a two-bedroom,

Wellesley home, $799,000.jpg
1,450-square-foot home on Lake Street in Wellesley that is priced just below $800,000, a rarity right now in this crazy spring market.

The same holds true for Needham, where 70 percent of all homes on the market during the first quarter were listed at $1 million and up.

Here's what Pinnacle's Elaine Bannigan told me in a column I wrote for today's issue of Banker & Tradesman.

"These numbers are disturbing," notes Elaine Bannigan, owner of Wellesley-based Pinnacle Residential Properties, Bannigan said. "This is a trend that changes the character of these towns as young and middle class families with moderate incomes are increasingly shut out,"

It's not just the western suburbs either. As of the last week in April, there were similar imbalances in Wincheser and Manchester north of Boston and Cohasset on the South Shore, Redfin listings show.

One partial explanation is that homes under a $1 million are getting snapped up faster, while  $1 million-plus homes take longer to sell.

But if that's the case, this ridiculously top-heavy market should have been the norm for years, and it hasn't been.

Back before the real estate bubble burst, about half of all homes on the market in Wellesley were under a million, while in Needham, the numbers were the opposite of what they are now, with 70 percent below $1 million and 30 percent above, according to Pinnacle.

Here's a piece I wrote for the Globe West which delves deeper into how this trend is reshaping the western suburbs. Homes $1 million and up also make up the majority of listings in Dover, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln.

It's yet more evidence of the dire inventory shortage that is strangling the market right now.

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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