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Boston's Million-Dollar Listings Bounce, Cheaper Ones Decline

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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 and people you would not otherwise notice. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

So, Boston, I got some good news and some bad news. They're regarding your condo inventory. The good news is that despite the onslaught of record snow and freezing cold, the amount of for-sale inventory in one of your markets is actually significantly larger than it was on this same day in 2013 or 2014. The bad news is that the segment of the market where inventory has grown is the seven-figure market. Yup, Boston, your side streets may look like 10 cents, but much of your condo market is looking like a million bucks.

I put 14 of your markets under the microscope and noted that for-sale listings priced at more than $1 million were apparently immune to record snow, limited T service and government shutdowns. In fact, on March 10, million-dollar listings were up 27 percent compared with the same day a year ago, while listings priced under $1 million were down 26 percent.

In fact, million-dollar listings were so prolific that six markets came back with a current median sales price that exceeded $1 million. Three of the six markets were so overloaded with million-dollar listings that either I have to get a better microscope or these were literally nearly the only type of condo listings one could find in those markets.

In Back Bay and the Waterfront, 88 percent of the for-sale listings had seven-figure price tags. And, in Midtown—that vague MLS-designated market that reflects an area in and around the Millennium Partners development known as Millennium Tower to in and around the Millennium Partners development known Millennium Place to in and around the Millennium Partners development known as the Ritz Carlton Condominiums—95 percent of the available listings were asking at least a million. Is it any wonder that the median list price in these three markets topped $2 million or that Back Bay's median of $2.76 million looked like it was trying to break three million?

Yesterday, in Beacon Hill, the South End and Brookline, the median list price also topped a million dollars. On March 10, 2013, just two years ago, Brookline's median list price was $675K. Yesterday, it surpassed that by 50 percent. Last year, the South End's median on March 10 was $799K; yesterday, my South End pricing thermometer took a $1.1 million reading. And, in Beacon Hill versus that same day a year ago, the median is up more than $400K.

Somebody, please, grab a shovel, buy some rock salt, and let's get some more modestly priced condo inventory on market. If we don't, it won't be long before Boston wins the gold medal for highest-priced condos.

Markets surveyed: Back Bay, Midtown, Waterfront, Beacon Hill, South End, Brookline, Cambridge, South Boston, Charlestown, Somerville, Jamaica Plain, East Boston, Brighton and Dorchester.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]