One of the meta-themes of real estate and, really, civic life in the Boston area is that housing is so damned expensive and competitive. Bidding wars, over-asks, cartoonishly low inventory—it has all made for a pretty steady narrative no matter the odd blip for that property or this sale. It's kind of like a real estate Law & Order. Tune in at any point and you're liable to easily pick up the plotline.
There are finally some twists, however. We'll explain:
· As our David Bates pointed out last week, a few condo markets in the Hub have experienced a sluggish start sales-wise to 2015. These include normally active ones such as Somerville, where sales were down 29 percent in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2014.
· There have been quite a number of condos and houses selling for less than their asking prices. We troll the region's multiple-listing service rather regularly and we know of what we type. Where once you might scroll through a handful of five- or even six-figure over-asks, you now see a similar count of under asks or just plain asks. This suggests bidding wars are receding—not gone, mind you, receding.
· Finally, you may have noticed the awful winter we endured. And you may have also noticed the odd trend piece about how that winter slowed the real estate market and that once the snow was gone sales would pick up dramatically. After all, spring is typically the busiest sales season of the year regardless of the winter that proceeded it. Yet, the snow has been largely gone for nigh on three months now. And the market has not steamed ahead.
We're not suggesting that the Boston-area market is headed toward some kind of cliff or crash. Prices remain high, especially in the downtown Boston area and in Cambridge; and properties still go fast once listed. But it's clear the peak is near. If you're a prospective buyer, then take heart from these signs and from the fact that rising mortgage rates in 2016 will likely thin the competition pool even more. If you're a seller, take heart in the fact that the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Either way, keep watching.
· Slow Going So Far for Dorchester's Condo Market in 2015 [Curbed Boston]
· A Ton Off the Final Price of That Old Roxbury Farmhouse [Curbed Boston]
· L.A. vs. Boston: An Extreme Winter Weather Comparison [Curbed Boston]
· Nine Signs Spring Is on the Way in the Hub Housing Market [Curbed Boston]
· Patriots in the Super Bowl Means Good News for Hub Sellers [Curbed Boston]