Boston condos sales trends, 2009 – 2011
May 2011 10

Two interesting chart; one showing number of condos on the market from December 2009 through May 2011 and the other showing under agreements from December 2009 through May 2011 and condo sales transactions from May 2009 through May 2011. Both include data from our local MLS for the Boston Proper neighborhoods including the South End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, West End, Waterfront, Chinatown, Bay Village, and The Fenway.

The on markets chart shows trends you might expect. In December 2009, only ~820 condos were listed for sale. Not many people list their properties for sale during the December holidays. Most people know by November whether or not they’re going to move by the end of the year.

As you can see, inventory started increasing in January 2010 until its apex during the last week of April and into May. Then, there was a big drop. Some of this is, fortunately, due to condos being purchased and the sales closing. The other reason for the drop-off is because most people don’t want to list their properties for sale over the summer. Most buyers and sellers want to have the summer to get settled into their new homes before school or new jobs start in the fall. Even though this isn’t as much an issue in the city, we still follow the same trends.

Inventory fell over the summer months. Surprisingly, and a bit shocking, was that inventory continued to fall in the fall. Usually there’s a small jump upwards in the fall. You can see from the chart that inventory leveled, but I’m surprised it didn’t go up at all.

Inventory levels fell throughout the rest of the year, hitting around 500 condos listed for sale on Christmas Day, 2010.

Inventory has gone up since then, but you can see we’re at levels well below what they were even last year at this time.

Buyers had over 1,300 condos from which to choose, last May. This year, they have under 1,000. And that’s overall. Many of the units listed for sale are either too expensive, too small, or too ugly for the typical buyer. Inventory levels are very low, right now.

Turning to the second chart, under agreements and solds are shown. I don’t have the data for under agreements going back past December 2009 but I do have sales.

As would be expected, the two follow each other, pretty closely. This is because condos go under agreement before they are sold. You’d expect to have more under agreements then sales because not all under agreements end up closing. Home inspections bring up issues, buyers can’t get financing at the last minute … and then the condos go back on the market and sometimes never sell.

If I analyze what happened last spring, it looks as though we had a big spike in buyer activity within a period of about four weeks in April and May – remember, this was when the federal tax credit program was about to expire. Sales of these condos were spread out over the summer, so there were more sales than under agreements.

People are looking to buy throughout the year and are looking to sell throughout the year. What we see from these charts is that springtime is the time when we have the most activity. Something to keep in mind.

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