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Downtown Boston housing market pulls away from rest of the city—way away

Recent numbers show just how wide the gap has become

A nighttime shot of downtown Boston anek.soowannaphoom/Shutterstock

It’s no surprise that it costs more to buy in downtown Boston than in the rest of the city. That is true of many cities nationwide. Want to live closer to everything? Pay up.

Two recent reports, though, highlight just how wide the gap is now between downtown neighborhoods such as Downtown Crossing, Back Bay, and the North End and outer neighborhoods such as Roxbury, Dorchester, and Hyde Park.

The first comes from real estate research site PropertyShark, which analyzed median sale prices in downtown Boston—which it defined as essentially the Financial District, Downtown Crossing, and some surrounding blocks—and the rest of Boston.

The median sale price in downtown was $369,000 higher than the overall Boston median, PropertyShark found. That is even after the overall median increased since the 2008 financial crisis, to $590,000 from $335,000. That is because it shot up in downtown, too: to $959,000 from $637,500.

There was also the recent report about fourth-quarter 2018 prices and sales from appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman. It found that condo and townhouse prices were generally up in a range of downtown Boston neighborhoods. The median condo sale price overall was up to $838,500, and the average was more than $1,000.

These figures are much higher than recent ones for Boston overall. Listings site Zillow pegged the city’s median sale price at $617,900 as of November 2018, and a recent rundown of market-rate listings by neighborhood from research site NeighborhoodX found immensely higher per-square-foot askings in downtown enclaves versus ones farther out.

Again, none of this should be that surprising. Downtown Boston has been pulling away from the rest of the city—from much of the rest of the United States—in terms of for-sale housing costs for years. The recent data, though, show just how yawning that chasm is now.

No wonder most of Boston rents.