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Boston Condo Inventory Is So Low [Insert Punchline Here]

Here is the second installment of By the Numbers, a weekly feature by broker David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. This week, David looks at Boston condo inventory (last week he looked at the under-$500K condo market).

The Greater Boston condominium inventory is becoming a joke, and a bad one at that.

To illustrate how low current inventory is, I thought I would share the cruel results of a couple of recent MLS searches I did on behalf of active buyers.

In Brighton, a market which sold 232 condominiums in 2011 and which is also one of Boston’ s most sought-after rental markets, there were as of July 22 10 condos on the market under $300K that had more than 500 square feet and were on the second floor or higher. None, however, were in a building which listing agents indicated had more than 50 percent owner-occupancy—a necessary characteristic for most buyers who want to obtain a loan with less than 20 percent down.

Under $500K, Brighton had only one two-bedroom condo situated on the second floor or above with more than 825 square feet of living space and with an MLS profile showing it was in a building with reasonable owner-occupancy. So if you want a two-bedroom condo with this profile, but are hoping for a short walking distance to the B line: fuhgetaboutit. There are none available.
In 02446, a Brookline zip code that includes Coolidge Corner, there were no condos whatsoever on the market under $300K and on the second floor or higher with more than 500 square feet. The entry level price for this location and features was $335K. The Coolidge Corner market was and is so tight that if a buyer wants a reasonably sized two-bedroom condo (more than 825 square feet) with secured parking (assigned or deeded), there are very few options: indeed, only two available as of July 22. One was new to the market and priced at $583K, and the other was listed at $945K and had a condo fee in excess of $1,000 a month.

South Boston offers a little more selection than Brighton or Coolidge Corner? but the condos there go fast. There were as of late July three two-bedrooms priced under $400K that had more than 825 square feet and were on the second floor or above. According to MLS statistics, however, seven had sold in the last month—an unheard of absorption rate of 0.4! Will you have better luck in Southie if you go up a little in price? Well, if you were to increase your search to $499K, an additional seven properties become available. Yet, eight sold in the month before. Simply put: In South Boston, they are selling them faster than they can list them.

I’m betting inventory in your community is low too. So on the next scorching hot day, if you see someone looking weak at the knees, don’t offer them a glass of water. Be kind and offer them a moderately priced condominium in your neighborhood. It just might be the answer to putting a kick back in their step. LOL.

· The Smallest Boston Real Estate Story [Curbed Boston]