Boston real estate sales boom during second quarter

Wayne Braverman
Link Boston Homes
Unit 1 at 122 Commonwealth Ave. In the Back Bay was one of the top sales in Boston during the second quarter. This home sold on May 20 for $5,200,000.

Boston’s real estate market soared during the second quarter. The high demand that appeared in the first quarter went into overdrive in April through June, according to LINK.

With higher demand than homes available to buy, prices also zoomed up.

LINK reports that sales in the neighborhoods it covers climbed to a new record, rising 123 percent from the same time last year to 1,387 homes changing hands. That’s 6 percent higher than the old mark of 1,310 homes sold in the third quarter of 2016. The first quarter of this year’s data revealed only 777 homes sold.

According to Miller Samuel Inc., which just released its report on the state of the real estate market in Boston for Douglas Elliman, this was the “fastest paced market in a year and a half while negotiability was unchanged from the prior-year quarter.”

One factor that makes the numbers in this year’s second quarter shine so bright is the comparison to the second quarter of last year when the market collapsed with the shutdowns coming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the infection rates and deaths down during this spring, thanks to the vaccines, the economy reemerged, unleashing the great pent-up demand for homes.

Even when compared to the pre-COVID years, the numbers this quarter are very impressive.

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group of condo sales in Massachusetts. “Housing activity in urban centers, which is heavily dominated by the condo market, is back after taking a considerable hit during the second quarter last year. A total of 3,169 sales (statewide) marked the most condo sales we’ve seen since June 2006 when the median condo price was less than $300,000.”

With 60 stories of luxurious delight, Millennium Tower is the second tallest residential building in Boston.

Sales blossomed in every Boston neighborhood, led by South Boston with 292 closings followed by the South End with 261 vended.

With potential buyers outnumbering homes available, this was a seller’s market with 6 percent of homes selling above the asking price. However, that’s not near the 17 percent level reached in the second quarter of last year or the 48 percent mark hit during the spring of 2017. The intensity of the demand depended on the neighborhood and how many homes were actually available to purchase.

The second quarter began with only 200 homes on the market in the neighborhoods watched by LINK. That was an increase from this year’s low of 189 homes available in the middle of the first quarter – the lowest number in a long time. By the end of June, the number of available homes went up to 248, which is still below last year’s second quarter high of 300. The lowest point of last year came in April when the number sank to 214 homes available.

The average selling price for this quarter rose 7 percent to $1,159,009. Every neighborhood saw an increase except for the West End and South End.

The median froze at $825,000 – matching the second quarter of last year. There was an upsurge in every neighborhood except in Fenway, the South End, Waterfront and West End.    

The average price per square foot rose when compared to the same quarter last year and the first quarter this year. For the period from April through June, the average PSF citywide went up 4 percent from last year to $984 and median climbed 2 percent to $905.

With 61 floors, One Dalton is Boston’s tallest residential building.

Luxury condos

The luxury category saw a giant hike in the second quarter with sales up 382 percent to 294 sold as compared to the same time last year. A year ago, One Dalton was the driving force behind luxury sales. Most of those condos are now sold. In the top 25 sales in the city, only one was from Boston’s tallest residential building.

The average selling price in the luxury category sunk 18 percent to $1,816,778 and the median toppled 34 percent to $1,161,600 as compared to the second quarter of 2020. Both those prices are also down from the first quarter of this year. The price per square foot also slipped 14 percent with the average now at $1,327 and the median tumbled 23 percent to $1,171.

The average days on the market crept down from the first quarter, dipping from 136 during the first three months to 130 days in the second 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:

Residents at the Mandarin love the five-star services and amenities that combine New England elegance with refined Oriental touches that create a distinctive hospitality experience.

Back Bay

After sinking to only 74 units sold in the first quarter, the situation looked a lot better in the second three months of 2021. This time, 129 homes sold, up 105 percent from the same time last year.

The average selling price grew 12 percent to $2,020,361 (second highest in the city) and the median ticked up 4 percent to $1,200,000 (third highest).

The average price per square foot is now $1,329 – up from $1,267 in the first quarter and up 3 percent from last year. The median PSF was $1,183 at the end of June, a percent higher than June 2020.

Homes stayed on the market in the Back Bay an average of 97 days.

Unit 4B at 10 Otis Pl. sold on May 27 for $3,488,676. Homes on Beacon Hill don’t stay on the market for long.

Beacon Hill

Sales on Beacon Hill expanded 123 percent from 2020 with 67 homes sold. That’s much better than the first three months of this year when only 37 units sold.

The average selling price ascended 8 percent to $1,303,849 (fourth highest in the city) while the median edged up 3 percent to $880,000.

The average and median price per square foot were close to last year’s level with the average ending the quarter at $1,228 and the median at $1,195.

Homes didn’t stay on the market long, selling in an average of 63 days. Demand is, as always, higher than what’s available on the market.

Charlestown

Charlestown continues to be a hot market in Boston with sales up 113 percent from last year behind the strength of 136 homes changing hands. That’s also an improvement on the first quarter when only 82 homes sold.

Charlestown visited record sales volume at $120,921,100 – a 15 percent increase from the old mark of $105,229,875 set in the third quarter of last year.

The average selling price nudged up 2 percent to a historic level of $889,126 and the median hit a new high of $832,500. The previous marks were both set last year.

The average price per square foot slid 2 percent to $765 – the second lowest in the neighborhoods covered by LINK. The median also saw a slight drop, trickling down 3 percent to $764.  

Homes in Charlestown only remained on the market an average of 50 days – the fastest turn-around in Boston. And demand for homes in this neighborhood is still much higher than inventory. This data suggests that Charlestown is a highly sought-after and desirable place where people want to raise their kids.

East Boston

This neighborhood has grown a lot in popularity for those buying homes. East Boston, which at one time was a place home-shoppers pretty much ignored, is now very much in demand. People can buy very nice homes in this neighborhood at a lower price than in places such as Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the South End.

220 units sold during the second quarter – third highest in the city. That shatters the old neighborhood record by 61 percent. The previous high was 137 sold in the third quarter of 2019.

Sales volume also hit a new high mark of $161,378,933 – a whopping 70 percent increase from the previous record set in the third quarter of 2019.

The average selling price scaled 26 percent to $733,541 and median rose 19 percent to $656,000 – second lowest in the LINK neighborhoods.

Increased demand means paying more. The average price per square foot is now $780, surmounting 28 percent from last year’s second quarter. The median PSF skipped up 26 percent to $762.

Homes in East Boston were on the market an average of 88 days.

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

Fenway 

The Fenway saw the city’s largest leap in sales, upswinging an incredible 362 percent to 60 homes enjoying new owners during the second three months of the year. The average selling price had a 5 percent rise to $875,726, but the median dipped 14 percent to $625,000.

The average price per square foot decreased 4 percent, falling to $974 and the median slipped 2 percent to $959.

Homes here stayed on the market an average of 122 days.

Midtown

Midtown also had an impressive quarter with sales up 113 percent to 51 sold. The average selling price rocketed up 33 percent to $1,763,931 from last year’s second quarter. The median selling price boomed up 47 percent to a city high level of $1,600,000.

The average price per square foot glided up 6 percent to $1,108 and the median realized a 1 percent step up to $1,046.

Homes in this part of the city stayed on the market an average of 97 days.

Many people consider condos at the Ritz-Carlton in Midtown to be the epitome of luxury living in Boston, from the iconic brand name to the world-class service the staff provides. Unit 37F sold on April 16 for $2,900,000.

North End

The popular North End saw sales soar 71 percent from a year ago with 36 sold. That’s double the 18 that sold in the first quarter this year.

Sales volume reached a neighborhood record of $29,432,200 – crushing the previous high of $21,669,009 set in the third quarter of 2013 by 36 percent.

The average selling price escalated 33 percent to $817,561, breaking the old mark set in the second quarter of 2018 by a percent. The median flew up 29 percent to a new record of $723,500, breaking the old record from the fourth quarter of last year by 2 percent.

The price per square foot is steady at $905 and the median PSF is $909.

Units in the North End lasted only 52 days on the market – second fastest turn-around in Boston. This is one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods with demand usually higher than availability.

Seaport

There were 78 condos sold in Seaport during the second quarter, up a colossal 90 percent from the same time last year. It’s also better than the 57 sold in the first quarter of this year.

The average sales price zipped up 42 percent to $2,337,554 – the highest in the city. The median rose 12 percent to $1,460,000 – the second highest in Boston.

The price per square foot zoomed up 19 percent to $1,585 and the median PSF is now 9 percent higher at $1,601. Both are Boston’s premier prices.

The average time on the market is 95 days.

South Boston

Southie continues to be a hot spot for those seeking new homes. As the city’s top seller, 292 homes were sold in the second quarter – an incredible 110 percent increase from the same time last year.

The average selling price stuck at $812,105 (second lowest in the LINK neighborhoods) while the median went up 3 percent to $765,000.

The average PSF is now at $766 and the median is $760.

Homes in South Boston generally don’t stay on the market for long – demand is heavy in this very family-friendly neighborhood. The average time to sell a home here was 65 days.

Unit 1 at 32 Rutland Square is one of the many homes that sold in the South End during the second quarter. Sales were up 129 percent in this part of Boston.

South End

The South End continues to be very popular among home buyers. Sales soared 129 percent with 261 sold. That’s a new record for the South End, breaking the last trend-setting level of 253 homes purchased in the second quarter of 2018.

Sales volume also hit record territory, reaching $324,901,539. That’s 4 percent better than the old neighborhood mark set in the second quarter of 2018.

The average selling price shrank 4 percent to $1,244,833 and the median tumbled 13 percent to $1,020,000.

The average price per square foot rose to a new record level of $1,098, breaking the previous record of $1,083 set in last year’s third quarter. The median PSF increased 2 percent to $1,080.

This neighborhood had the second highest number of sales in the city. Homes here stayed on the market an average of 61 days. As with other popular neighborhoods, demand exceeds supply.

Waterfront

Waterfront home sales mounted upwards 65 percent to 43 sold. The average selling price bumped up 1 percent to $1,212,827, but the median was knocked down 20 percent to $880,000. That is the biggest drop in the city.

The average price per square foot is now $1,046 and the median is $984.

Homes here stayed on the market an average of 109 days – going from fastest in the city in the first quarter to second slowest currently. Homes in the higher priced neighborhoods take longer to sell, especially now when demand is for lower priced places to live.

West End

The West End saw sales fly up 75 percent to 14 units sold for the quarter. The average selling price descended 12 percent to $629,121 – lowest among the LINK neighborhoods. The median is also the lowest, falling 10 percent to $608,750.

The average PSF ($666) and median PSF ($637) are the most affordable in the neighborhoods covered by LINK. However, finding homes to buy here is challenging.

Coming up soon: The top first quarter sales by neighborhood.