Soft inventory, soaring prices in Boston real estate

Wayne Braverman
Link Boston Homes
Unit 11F in the 22 Liberty Drive tower on Fan Pier in Seaport was sold on May 23 for $6,678,750, making it the 11th biggest sale of the second quarter. Jonathan Radford of Coldwell Banker Realty was the listing and selling agent for this deluxe 2,674-square-foot residential delight.

The trend of soft inventory and soaring prices that marked the first quarter of 2022 continued throughout the second quarter in the Boston real estate market.

According to LINK, there were only 1,198 homes sold in April, May and June. That’s 14 percent less that the 1,393 units sold in the second quarter last year.

On the plus side, it’s better than the 707 homes sold in the first quarter in the neighborhoods LINK covers.

The only three neighborhoods where sales increased were the Back Bay, Midtown and the West End.

The year began with only 128 homes on the market, dropping down to 116 by the end of January. The second quarter, which is when the market usually heats up, noticed the number rise to 145. The high point came in May with 172 units for sale, but come the end of June, that number dipped to 160 – a traditional descent that comes as the July vacation time comes around.

According to Miller Samuel Inc., which released its report on the state of the real estate market in Boston for Douglas Elliman, “Listing inventory declined annually for the fourth consecutive quarter.”

As for prices – those were elevated across the board with many neighborhoods reaching record highs. With fewer homes available, competition was hot.

Miller Samuel Inc. notes, “Four in 10 sales were sold by bidding wars, the highest market share in four years.”

The city overall set a new median price per square foot (PSF), jumping up to $999. The average price per square foot (PSF) is now 9 percent higher at $1,069.

The average selling price vaulted up 13 percent to $1,311,094 and the median mounted 10 percent to $913,000.

According to Miller Samuel Inc., “Median sales price growth rose annually for the fifth consecutive quarter.” 

Homes remained on the market an average of only 56 days – the fastest turnaround time since the red-hot market of 2018. Another factor that played a role in this scenario for some homebuyers was rising interest rates – and the Federal Reserve is not done yet in its effort to cut inflation. Add that to Boston’s already high prices, there are more people being priced out of the market for now.

One Dalton is Boston’s largest residential tower and the city’s third tallest building.

Luxury condos

This category was pretty cold during the second quarter. Sales plunged 42 percent from last year’s spring quarter with only 170 units changing hands. The average selling price soared upwards 34 percent to $2,433,272 while the median skyrocketed 40 percent to $1,611,000. The average price per square foot is now $1,607 – up 22 percent while the median spiraled up 33 percent to $1,558.

What was on the market, however, moved pretty fast, selling in an average of only 89 days – rarely does that number fall below 100 during a quarter.

The luxe category includes the full-service buildings such as the InterContinental, Four Seasons, Ritz, Rowes Wharf, One Dalton, The Lucas, Pierce Boston, The Lyndon, The Whitwell, 50 Liberty, Lovejoy Wharf, Millennium Tower and 180 Beacon. These places typically include valet parking and concierge service along with lifestyle amenities such as social clubs, theaters, gyms and pools. Some even include an array of special events.

Here is the breakdown of overall sales per neighborhood covered by LINK and Boston Homes:

Back Bay

Finding condos for sale in the habitually hot Back Bay was a bit more demanding. Thanks to the lack of condos to buy, only 131 homes sold during the second quarter.

Demand absolutely outweighed supply, resulting in the average selling price hopping up 12 percent to $2,265,017 – highest in the city. The median hiked up 17 percent to a Boston-high $1,400,000.

The average price per square foot is now 13 percent higher at $1,507 and the median PSF is 13 percent up to $1,339.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill saw sales trickle down 7 percent compared to the same time last year to 62 homes sold. That’s not for lack of interest – it’s due to deficient inventory.

The average selling price climbed 29 percent to $1,688,360 and the median scaled up 28 percent to $1,125,000. The average price per square foot is now $1,302 and the median reached a neighborhood record of $1,252. Homes here only stayed on the sizzling market an average of 32 days.

Unit A/B at 19 Monument Sq. in Charlestown features nearly 2,600 square feet of custom designed living space. On June 17, this spectacular home sold for $2,500,000, making it the biggest sale of the second quarter in this section of the city.

Charlestown

Charlestown is still a popular place to call home, as depicted by the lower inventory and the speed at which the houses turnover. Consider that homes on the market here lasted a mere 28 days before selling.

During the first quarter, 126 homes changed hands – down 8 percent from the second quarter of last year. Once again, if there were more homes available, they would certainly sell.

The average selling price ($945,275) and median price ($826,875) were both higher.

There were also new record highs for the average price per square foot ($831) and median PSF ($826) for a home in this part of the city.

East Boston

With all the new developments and its easy access to Logan Airport and the inner city, East Boston is among the trendiest and most economical neighborhoods that prospective buyers consider. During the second quarter, 138 homes sold.

The average selling price here – $641,788 is still more affordable than in other LINK coverage neighborhoods. The median price is $617,500.

The average price per square foot is also by far the lowest at $658 as is the median at $656.  

A home at Pierce Boston could be convenient and appealing to the professionals flocking to the Fenway. And it’s not just for the museums, colleges and Red Sox games, Pierce Boston is the perfect place to live.

Fenway 

The Fenway watched sales plummet 46 percent during the second quarter. Only 46 units sold during the spring. The average selling price slipped 2 percent to $856,270, however, the median dashed up 16 percent to $723,000. The average PSF is now 5 percent higher at $1,025 and the median is a percent lower at $954.

Leading the way in Midtown was the sale of Unit 3701 at The Sudbury, 110 Sudbury St. Tracy Campion of Campion & Company listed the home, which was purchased with The McLaren Team of Compass for $5,600,000 on April 12.

Midtown

Midtown had an impressive quarter with sales burgeoning 28 percent to 60 homes with new owners. The average selling price jumped up 10 percent to $2,017,650 – second highest in the city. The median selling price descended 9 percent to $1,472,500 – still the highest price in Boston.

The average price per square foot zipped up 15 percent to $1,309 (second highest in the city) and the median zoomed upwards 8 percent to $1,156.

The leading sale in the Waterfront – North End was Unit 307-308 at 40 Burroughs Wharf. This palatial palace was listed and sold through Carmela Laurella of CL Properties, closing on May 23 for $4,050,000.

North End

North End sales sunk 43 percent to only 21 sold. That’s better than the first quarter when only seven homes changed hands, but still well below last year’s markers.

The average selling price slid 7 percent to $749,452 (second lowest in the LINK coverage area) and the median dipped to $655,000 – second most affordable in the coverage area.

The price per square foot leapt up to $998 for the average and a record $989 for the median.

One of the reasons for the low sales number is that there wasn’t much to buy. Homes in this neighborhood usually sell fast; that trend was especially maintained this past quarter with units lasting on the market an average of only 13 days.

Seaport

This area of the city recognized 58 home sales, down 26 percent from the same time last year. The average selling price shed 16 percent, falling to $1,943,430, which is still the third most expensive in Boston. The median selling price of $1,342,750, also the third highest in Boston.

The price per square foot is the second highest in Boston with the average now standing at $1,504 while the median is $1,551.

The average time on the market went from 29 days in the first quarter to 129 days during the last three months.

South Boston

Southie continues to be a popular spot for people looking for homes. As the city’s second top selling area, 220 homes were sold in the second quarter, which is actually a 23 percent drop from last year. However, that’s not because the market is cold – that’s due to lower inventory. The average selling price rose 9 percent to $888,690.

It was a record quarter in three categories in Southie. The list includes: Median selling price ($852,500) | Average price per square foot ($865) | Median price per square foot ($845).

The average time to sell a home here was 43 days in the second quarter.

South End

The South End continues to be a place where many people want to live. This neighborhood viewed 271 homes change hands – the most of any section of the city. The South End experienced record sales volume during the past three months. The new mark, which is 12 percent better than the previous one, is $379,341,549.

In the year’s second period, the South End set a new neighborhood record with an average selling price of $1,399,784 – a 14 percent hike from the same time last year.

The median sales price was $1,139,900 – up 12 percent. The average price per square foot was $1,163 and the median PSF was a neighborhood record of $1,157.

Residents at Rowes Wharf enjoy five-star services, including concierge and doorman as well as the use of the gym and underground parking.

Waterfront

Sales in the Waterfront held steady with 43 homes enjoying new owners. The record for this part of Boston during the quarter includes: Average selling price ($1,886,814 – up 56 percent from last year) | Median selling price ($1,400,000 – up 59 percent) | Average price per square foot ($1,151) | Sales volume ($81,133,000).

West End

The West End witnessed sales escalate 57 percent to 22 units sold for the second quarter. The average selling price increased 21 percent to $760,557 and median picked up 26 percent to reach a new record price of $767,500.

The average PSF ($814) and median PSF ($786) were second lowest in the coverage area.