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Downtown Boston condo, townhouse prices hit records in spring, report says

New analysis compares market’s spikes to earlier conditions down the coast in Brooklyn; sales down though 

A row of rowhouses along a city street. Shutterstock

The sales price for a downtown Boston condo reached a record $1,139 a square foot during the second quarter of 2019, a 10.7 percent increase over the same period in 2018, according to a new report from brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraiser Miller Samuel. (The report based that record on figures from over the past 19 years.)

The report—which covered Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charleston, Fenway, Midtown, the North End, the Seaport, South Boston, the South End, and the West End—showed a general rise across all major price measures.

The median condo sales price, for instance, was up 6.7 percent, to $910,000, and the average sales price was up 13.1 percent, to $1,336,307. These and the average per square foot record came even though there continue to be more condos available, in part because of an echoing development boom in downtown Boston.

“In condo sales, the market is moving at a rapid pace despite five consecutive quarters of inventory expansion,” Scott Elwell, Douglas Elliman’s senior executive manager for New England, said in a summary of the report.

The rising prices did put a damper on condo sales. The number of closed deals was down 15.9 percent, to 952, in the second quarter, the report said.

Still, if the condo price changes are taken with the overall performance of the townhouse market in the second quarter too, then the downtown market appears to be on tear.

Every major townhouse price indicator hit a record. The median sales price was up 7.6 percent, to $1,399,000; the average sales price was up 11.9 percent, to $1,846,959; and the average sales price per square foot was up 8.2 percent, to $756.

The inventory of available townhouses for sale was up 11.4 percent, and the number of sales was down 7.6 percent.

Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller, who has long authored housing reports covering the company’s home turf of New York City and who authored this downtown Boston one, compared that market with two boroughs in Gotham.

“The downtown Boston market is moving quickly—two to three times faster than what we’re seeing in Manhattan,” Miller said in the summary. “We’re seeing so many price records that it reminds me of the rapid market conditions in Brooklyn.”