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Boston's 3-BR Condos: Where They Sell, For How Much

Here is the latest 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 the market for three-bedroom condos in Boston. (Last week, he looked at which words in a listing make a Hub home move that much faster.)

In the first half of 2012, sales transactions for Boston one-bedroom condominiums were up 34 percent.

Transactions for Boston two-bedroom condominiums were up 23 percent.

But transactions for Boston three-bedrooms, that family-friendly-sized condo, were nearly flat, plus 1 percent.

Numbers like these—as well as the current development focus in the city on singletons and empty-nesters—made me take a closer look at the dynamics of Boston's three-bedroom market.

In the first half of the year, three-bedroom condos made up 18 percent of Boston's condo sales. Jamaica Plain, by far, was the most popular Boston neighborhood for three-bedroom condos. JP not only sold more three-bedrooms than any Boston neighborhood (53), but it also had the highest three-bedroom sales percentage (30 percent) of any neighborhood's condo tally.

Three-bedroom condos, however, were hard to come buy on the Waterfront (2.63 percent of sales); in the Fenway (4.92 percent); and in the Leather District (5.56 percent). South Boston—the neighborhood which soon may become Boston's micro-apartment capital—sold 30 three-bedroom condos in the first half of the year (the same as it did in in the first half of 2011), about 12 percent of South Boston's total condo sales.
Boston Condominium Sales By Size
One-Bedroom: 572
Two-Bedroom: 1,079
Three-Bedroom: 295
(Based on an analysis of MLSPIN sold numbers for 1/1/12-6/30/12)

Boston neighborhoods didn't just differ on the amounts of three-bedrooms sold; the size and price of their three-bedroom sales were also very different.

In Back Bay, the average size of a three-bedroom traded in the first half of 2012 was around 2,400 square feet and the median price was nearly $2 million. But in the South End, the average size was around 1,900 square feet and the median price was $1.2 million.

In JP, three-bedroom buyers received on average around 1,500 square feet in return for paying a median price in the $400Ks. In Dorchester, three-bedrooms were small in both size and price: just under 1,300 square feet, with a $245K median.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect the numbers showed about the three-bedroom market was that in some neighborhoods buyers paid more per square foot for a three bedroom condo than they did for a one- or two-bedroom (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End); but in other neighborhoods, buyers paid significantly less per square foot for a three-bedroom than they did for a one- or two-bedroom (South Boston, Charlestown and Brighton). In Jamaica Plain, the price per square foot was nearly equal regardless of bedroom count.

· South Boston to Get Hundreds of Manhattan Apartments [Curbed Boston]
· Boston Is for Lovers (Just Not Their Kids): a New Apt. Dynamic [Curbed Boston]
· Our By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

[Illustration via Mark A. Hicks at]