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Are You a Megan? Downtown Boston Home-Hunting in Real Time

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Longtime readers know how we feel about the housing market in Boston: it's returning to normal; not too hot, not too cold. But that's the long-term look, going back to the 1990s and through two recessions to today. What about on the ground for prospective buyers right now? Well, there are the bidding wars supposedly rampant. There are the flippers, they're back. (Did they ever leave? Were they ever here? This isn't Miami!) There have been some macro-price-bumps in some areas. All paint a real-time picture of a seller's market emerging. What's that feel like if you're looking?

Megan, according to Herald columnist and broker Jennifer Athas, set about home-hunting in the South End and Back Bay, mortgage pre-approval in hand and a $500,000 budget, plenty, it would seem for the 1-bedroom she wanted (more on Hub neighborhoods and current prices at our Curbed University "Beginner's Guide to Hub Neighborhoods and Sales Prices"). Megan is a young professional, Athas writes, and was optimistic—cue the Mary Tyler Moore theme. Then:

One of the first places on Megan’s search was a one-bedroom condo at 2 Clarendon St. [pictured] in the South End. On March 25, Unit 508, an 802-square-foot, one-bedroom with study area, was priced at $525,000 without parking. Multiple offers came in on the unit and a cash buyer was the first offer to be accepted. A couple of days later, Unit 408 in the same building came on the market for $519,000 and was gone in a day. Megan also looked at 16 Concord Square, Unit 14-3, in the South End, which was listed for $484,500. The 725-square-foot, one-bedroom had an open living and dining room, hardwood floors, exposed brick, a fireplace and small deck. Located in an eight-unit building, the property had a renovated kitchen and was in move-in condition. When Megan went to make an offer, the place was already under contract.

Megan found bidding wars or cash buyers everywhere; or she was too late to the party. Lest you think this is a tale told to as broker boosterism (buy now!) here's a stat to disabuse yourself of that:

In downtown Boston, the number of available properties for sale in the $300,000 to $600,000 range (an entry-level price point in the downtown market) is only 155 compared to 293 available units during the same time last year, according to information gathered from MLS Property Information Network. We wonder how many other Megans are out there. Know any? One yourself? Drop us a line with your recent difficult home-hunting experience on the super-secret tipline.

· First-Time Homebuyer Recounts Tale of Woe [Herald]
· Is Boston's Housing Market Just ... Normal? [Curbed Boston]
· It's a Seller's Market in the Hub Again! Anecdotally! [Curbed Boston]
· Hub Housing Barometer: More Evidence It's All Boringly Normal [Curbed Boston]
· A Beginner's Guide to Hub Neighborhoods and Sales Prices [Curbed Boston]

[2 Clarendon Street by Nancy Lane via The Herald]