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Greater Boston's Condo Desert Experiencing a Drought

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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 you would not otherwise see. Check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets.

If they were going to do a Biggest Loser in Boston right now, condominium inventory would be the star. On Feb. 18, 2013, the City of Boston, one of the most important markets in the country, had just 457 condos for sale. This Feb. 18, Tuesday, there were only 398 Boston condos on the market. That's about a 13 percent drop. By the way, all you condo-market-economic nutritionists, that's not condo fat being lost, that's condo muscle that's no longer available.

It gets worse. In the nine key condo markets I write most about (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, Somerville, the South End, and South Boston), the amount of on-market condos is down a cumulative 23 percent compared with last Feb. 18.

And if we talk about many of these markets individually, of course, it gets even worse. This year, Somerville's condo inventory dropped by one-third annually. The South End lost a third, too! And, while last Feb. 18, Cambridge weighed in at an anemic 66 condos on the market, this Feb. 18, Cambridge had just 30 condos up for sale. Maybe that's why the median price for Cambridge's on-market condo inventory is now $764,000 vs. the $569,000 of just one year ago?

Heck, as bad as Cambridge's condo inventory sounds, as of Tuesday JP had only 16 condos on the market. Come on, JP, you can do better than that! JP, remember how on Feb. 18, 2009, you had 96 condos on the market? Oh, how you bathed in on-market inventory in those days. What you would have given for a frantic cash buyer wanting to put in an offer then. Or how about even last Feb 18, when you had what can only be considered a pathetic 39 condos on the market? I swear, JP, if your condo inventory goes any lower… don't be surprised if you see a few people mining for condos on Moss Hill. Who knows, maybe a forgotten development could be found?

Hey, Brookline only lost about 13 percent of its inventory. But, before you drop the shovel to grab your cell and call your agent, the median price of the 33 Brookline condos currently on the market is $949,000.

If all this talk of lack of inventory has you wondering where you are going to live next year, don't worry: Developers are building a bevy of ultra-expensive apartments in brand-new buildings. You might not be able to find a condo in the city to buy, but 900-square-foot apartments renting for $4,000 a month will be plentiful.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]