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Downtown Boston Condo Market Island in Rough Mass. Sea

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Never mind the strength of the downtown Boston condo market. Massachusetts as a whole is about to have a terrible year housing-market-wise—at least for sellers and their brokers. It's sort of 99 percent-vs.-1 percent thing.

Fewer than 39,000 single-family homes and condos are expected to trade in 2011, according to a new report from the Warren Group. That's a long way off from a sales peak in 2004 of 64,568 and down even from a rough 2010, when 41,279 homes traded (driven, in part, by the expiration of the first-time homebuyers' tax credit). Also: The commonwealth's median home sales price slid 2.52 percent in 2011, through November, to $290,000; that's well off the August 2005 summit of $370,000.

There are at least a few reasons why the Mass. housing market won't improve all that much in 2012.

· Tighter lending standards: The Herald this morning quotes Massachusetts Association of Realtors president Tisha McCarthy thus: "We've got very, very good buyers with 800 credit scores who can't get loans."
· The commonwealth is in the midst of, for the East Coast anyway, a foreclosure crisis. As many as 9,071 houses and condos entered foreclosure in 2011, through November.
· Finally, have you read a newspaper lately? No? Oh. Well, basically all the economic news is bad—real bad—with the only bright spot for the housing market low mortgage rates. Analysts, according to The Herald, "don't expect a major rebound [in 2012], certainly not to the levels we saw before the downturn began."

In Boston's tonier neighborhoods, however, things couldn't be peachier relative to what's swirling around them. As we reported last week, the year-to-date average sales price for condos in downtown nabes like Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the South End, the North End, Bay Village and Chinatown was $663,967 by Dec. 22, up from $663,545 in 2010. And the median sales price was $470,000, up from $465,000.

Year-to-date, there have been 359 downtown condo sales of at least $1 million; 97 of at least $2 million; 35 of at least $3 million; and 106 of at least $1,000 a square foot. Fourteen percent of downtown condo sales year-to-date have been for at least $1 million.

· Mass. on Homestretch of Massive Tumble [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Boston Condo Market Having Happy Holiday Season [Curbed Boston]