Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends and people you would not otherwise notice. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.
If September was the month that you were supposed to put down the home sale and pick up the homework, then nobody told the Cambridge, Somerville and South End condominium markets. In Cambridge, the number of condominiums that went under agreement in September 2014 was 53 percent greater than did so in September 2013. In the South End, September under-agreements were up 64 percent. And versus September 2013, Somerville's under agreements were up 18 percent and the median list price of Somerville under-agreements was up an impressive 20 percent.
These significant sales gains were in sharp contrast to the weak and somewhat flat results of many other Hub condo markets. In Back Bay, 17 percent fewer condominiums went under agreement in September 2014 than in September 2013. And, in Charlestown, September under-agreements were off 29 percent compared with the year before.
What was the leading indicator of how a market fared in 2014 versus 2013? Inventory, of course. In Cambridge, 40 percent more listings came to market this September versus last. The South End listed 20 percent more condos than it did in September 2013. In contrast, the Back Bay (-23 percent) and Charlestown (-23 percent) markets had significantly fewer condominium listings come to market than they had last September.
The increase in for-sale inventory and the advantageous market conditions combined to make this the best September for Cambridge pending sales since 2007. As well, according to MLS, data it was the best South End September for pending sales in at least as long. In Somerville, where nearly three times as many condominiums went under agreement as did in September 2011, it might have been the best ever September.
Will the uptick in pending sales continue in these key Hub markets for the rest of the year? It will depend on the amount of sale-able inventory that comes to market.
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