Low inventory level puts upward pressure on South End condo prices
Sep 2011 20

It’s the fall real estate market and this means that many buyers are out in the Boston neighborhoods looking for a new home.

It looks to be a busy, but short, fall season, based on what I see going under agreement and by the number of inquiries I’ve been getting. It’s hard to make comparisons to prior years, though, since they were unique. Last year, for example, we were still feeling the after-effects of the expiring tax credit program that pushed many people to buy in the spring who may otherwise have waited until fall. So, the fall sales volume was lower than normal. And, in 2009, we were about 12 months into the bottom trough of the recession, following the September 2008 implosion of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of “bad times” for many people.

So, we’re busier this year, but that’s only because things were so slow before.

There may be more buyers, but I don’t see a lot of inventory out there, which will make things difficult for many. Although buyers may have (finally) been able to get their lenders to agree to lend, they are now faced with an unexpected problem: no homes to buy.

Or, at least, no homes at prices they can afford.

Sadly, for many people, prices in the downtown Boston real estate neighborhoods have not fallen by as much as in other parts of the city, state or country.

For example, if you’re looking for a two-bedroom home with 1,000 square feet or more but under $650,000, there’s just 55 from which to choose. This isn’t a lot, given that 165 condos fitting these criteria sold within the past six months. So, there’s a three month supply of housing. In a perfect market, you’d have five to eight months of supply. Less than that and there are too many buyers for the “good” properties and too much demand for sellers to be willing to negotiate. There’s always someone else, they’ll think.

My best advice is, be ready to go when you find the home of your dreams. See as many properties as you can, now, so that when you see the home you love, you know its value compared to what else is out there. Have your pre-approval in hand and already have talked to your co-buyers, lender, lawyer, and real estate agent about your plans.

Go in strong.

Above, 392 Marlborough Street #1, Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts. Will Montero of Warren Residential Group. It is listed for $1.695 million.

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