Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Downtown Leads Housing Rebound

If there’s a recovery in Boston’s housing market, it’s less apparent with condos than single-family homes, and strongest for both categories near downtown.

Figures from the Warren Group show Boston single-family home sales increased slightly in 2009, with a very strong finish for the month of December. For the whole year, sales were up by less than two percent, and the median price was down by 2.24 percent. With many buyers racing to meet the deadline (since extended) for tax credits, sales for the last month increased over December of 2008 by almost 48%, while the median price increased by 24 percent.

Among the areas with more than a handful of single-family transactions, the most dramatic improvement for 2009 was around downtown Boston. In these parts of the city, sales were up slightly, but the median price increased by 36 percent. There was also a surge in Dorchester, but only for December, with single-family home sales up by 45% and the median price up by 25 percent.

Also showing a gain for the whole year was West Roxbury, where sales of single-family homes decreased slightly in 2009, while the median price increased by almost 6 percent. The largest decreases in the median price for a single-family home were in Roxbury (almost 33%), East Boston (more than 16%), Brighton (almost 15%), Hyde Park (just over 11%) and South Boston (almost 11%).

Dorchester has been hit hard by the rash of foreclosures over the past few years, especially in the condo market. In 2009, the number of condo sales in Dorchester was slightly down from 2008, but the median price fell by almost 50 percent.

For all of Boston in 2009, condo sales decreased by almost 10% and the median price decreased by almost 9 percent. In the month of December, sales increased over the same month in 2008 by almost 21%, while the median price was up by more than 15 percent.

The strongest finish for condos last year was in areas near downtown Boston. In this part of the city, condo sales for December were up by more than 43%, while the median price was up by slightly more than 12 percent. For the whole year, sales were down by almost 21% and the median price was down by more than 6 percent.

In some other parts of Boston condo sales for December increased without any gain in the median price. These areas included Charlestown, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain. For all of 2009, Roslindale condo sales increased by more than 42%, though the median price was off by almost 6 percent.