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Downtown Boston home prices jumped over the summer

Every major price measure trended up annually during the third quarter of 2019, a new report says—but the end of the boom might be near

A line of quaint rowhouses with wrought-iron railings on their stairs. Shutterstock

Every major price measure for downtown Boston housing increased during the third quarter of 2019, according to a new report from brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraiser Miller Samuel.

But within such scorchingly hot statistics lay the seeds of—well, not the demise of downtown’s boom market, but at least its cooling-off.

The median sales price for condos was up 5 percent year over year, to $866,500, during the three months ended September 30. The average price per square foot rose 14.4 percent, to $1,134—its second highest level in 19 years, according to the report. And the average sales price increased 21.2 percent year over year, to $1,328,458.

As for townhouses, the median price was up 20.6 percent in the third quarter, to $1,362,500, and the average per square foot was up 1.3 percent, to $704. The average price, meanwhile, rose a scant 0.3 percent, to $1,632,226.

Despite such gains over the same period in 2018, or perhaps because of them, the sales picture is far less rosier for sellers and their brokers. Condo sales, for instance, were down annually in the third quarter by 12.5 percent, to 846.

“Even with inventory continuing to expand, buyers are encountering limited supply, which is causing sales to decline,” Scott Elwell, an executive at Manhattan-based Douglas Elliman, said in a release on the report, which can be downloaded here. “This is one of the tightest sales markets in the country, and we’ll have to see if the pace-to-supply ratio evens out going forward.”

And, while townhouse sales jumped 31.6 percent, to 104, the tight supply in that sector of the downtown market might mean a drop is coming.

“As the locals might say, the townhouse market in downtown Boston is moving ‘wicked fast,’” Miller Samuel president and CEO Jonathan Miller, the report’s author, said. “High demand is causing prices to rise, and sales numbers were strong this quarter. But, unless the supply catches up, we may see a decrease in sales in the coming months.”

The report covered closed condo sales in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charleston, Fenway, Midtown, the North End, the Seaport District, South Boston, the South End, and the West End, and closed townhouses sales throughout downtown.