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Downtown Boston condo prices shatter records as sales surge

The end of 2019 was apparently quite a swell time to be a seller in neighborhoods such as Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, and South Boston

Looking up at a multistory condo building just behind a street sign and traffic light. Shutterstock

Whatever the correction the overall Boston housing market appears to be undergoing, its downtown condo market remains scorchingly a seller’s market.

The median and average sales prices for downtown condos as well as the average price per square foot all broke records in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to a new report from appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman (the link to the report is not yet live).

The average price was up 37.6 percent year over year, to $1,546,011, and the median price rose 13.6 percent, to $952,500. The average per foot hit $1,247, up 22.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018 and to a level that only a decade or so ago would’ve seemed scandalously high.

The Miller Samuel-Douglas Elliman report tracked closed condo deals for the three months ended December 31 in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charleston, Fenway, Midtown, the North End, the Seaport District, South Boston, the South End, and the West End.

The same report also showed a year-over-year surge in downtown condo sales at the end of 2019. The number was up 21.8 percent annually, to 676—though that represented a similar decline from the quarter right before. The number of available condos for sale was off sharply quarter to quarter too, dropping 43. 5 percent.

It also took sellers longer to trade their condos, with the average number of days on the market growing 13 percent annually and 15.1 percent quarterly, to 61. The average listing discount rose, too, to 2.8 percent from a fraction less in the third quarter and from 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Otherwise, though, the downtown Boston condo market appeared to end 2019 solidly in sellers’ favor.

“As the year came to an end, the market remained very tight in Boston,” Scott Elwell, Douglas Elliman’s regional vice president of sales for Westchester and New England, said in a statement. “We’ll have to keep an eye on the inventory shortage as we head into 2020, but it’s exciting to see both sales and prices reaching new heights in the city.”

Meanwhile, prices and sales in the city’s overall condo market appeared to trend downward at the end of 2019. A report from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors and real estate research firm the Warren Group tracking closed condo deals in November showed that the number of sales were down 8.8 percent compared with November 2018 and 9.7 percent year to date.

And the median sales price was $645,000 in November, down 0.8 percent annually and 2.7 percent monthly. What’s more, Boston condo prices overall were down 1.9 percent year to date in November.

What’re you seeing in the city’s condo market, downtown or otherwise?