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The Indomitable Hub Buyer: Fewer Deals Falling Apart Now

Here is the latest installment of Bates 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 tackles the whats and wherefores of assessments. (Last week, he wrote about why assessments often rattle condo owners.)

For this week, I ran an MLS report of under-agreement homes and determined what percentage of them failed to close. I then compared the current percentages to years past.

In 2009, 6.27 percent of Greater Boston condominiums with list prices over $300,000 that went under agreement between March 1 and May 31 failed to sell. During the same period in 2011, only 4.98 percent epically failed. This year, a miniscule 3.6 percent got the kibosh.

Under-agreements in the single-family market followed a similar trend.

In 2009, 5.78 percent of single-family homes with list prices over $300,000 that went under agreement between March 1 and May 31 failed to sell. In 2011, during the same period, only 5.37 percent of the under-agreements imploded. This year, a paltry 4.05 percent tanked in that time period.

It seems that challenging inspections, surprise assessments, low appraisals, and a tricky lending market are no longer knock-out punches to prospective real estate sales. When it comes to home ownership in the Hub, today's buyers are as determined as Rocky Balboa to go the distance and answer the bell at the closing table.

While these numbers communicate that a far lower percentage of deals are falling apart now versus recent years past, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that reflects the current state of homebuyers' determination. For example, one under-agreement I know of had a hazardous waste spill just two weeks before closing. When the cleanup received the blessing of governing authorities, the buyers closed faster than you can say, "Congratulations on your new home!"

Then there's the story of the condo that looked to be in move-in condition and had a list price in excess of $500,000. The buyers' inspections revealed knob and tube wiring in the building, a lead paint inspection gone awry, a history of termites, rat droppings, standing water in the basement, rental restrictions in the condo documents, and evidence of a damaged sill. Considering what they endured to get there, I wonder if the buyers sat at the closing table displaying even more exhausted triumph than other buyers showed in years past.

· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

[Photo of 663 Tremont, #3, which was listed for $1.425 million and went under agreement on April 10. It came back on the market on May 11 and is still on the market.]