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Luxury units help push Boston condo prices to record

Low inventory likely to remain a factor

Construction on Washington Street of the Millennium Tower condos.

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Construction on Washington Street of the Millennium Tower condos.

Condominium prices in Boston’s downtown market jumped to a record high in the second quarter of the year, driven by strong demand, tight inventories, and a taste for luxury, according to data to be released Tuesday.

The median price for a condo in Boston’s central neighborhoods increased to $537,950 in the three-month period that ended in June, a 5.3 percent increase from same period a year ago, according to LINK, a Boston company that tracks condo sales in a 12-neighborhood area, including the Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

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That beat the previous record of $537,000 during the first quarter of 2013, according to LINK, which has been tracking local condo data since 1993.

Strong sales of luxury condos, which include services like a valet and concierge, helped push the citywide median value — the midway point between the lowest and highest sale prices — to the record. The median price of a luxury condo jumped to $1.4 million from $1.24 million in the second quarter of 2012, a more than 13 percent increase.

Sales of luxury condos increased by 2.4 percent between April and June, according to LINK.

“We are zooming right ahead,’’ said John Ranco, a senior sales associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate LLC in the South End. Ranco said buyers “are out there in force. It is just the matter of finding the right property.”

That hasn’t been easy for many house hunters. As in the broader Massachusetts real estate market, listings have shrunk as more buyers come into the market, according to LINK, which tracks condos in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, the Fenway, the Leather District, Midtown, the North End, the Seaport, South Boston, the South End, the Waterfront, and the West End.

Inventory for condos in these neighborhoods dropped in June to 328 units from 531 a year ago, a 38.2 percent drop.

The shortage of properties on the market contributed to the slight decline in overall condo sales, which fell 1.2 percent from the second quarter of 2012, according to LINK.

Kevin Ahearn, president of the Boston-based residential brokerage firm, Otis & Ahearn Inc., said he expects tight inventory will keep pushing prices in the city’s downtown market for years. There are very few new listings, he said.

“We are seeing the front end of a very big move up in pricing,” he said.

Home values throughout the Boston area are on the rise. Median sales prices for condos in Greater Boston — considered roughly the region within the Interstate 495 loop — rose to a record $422,000 in June, a 5.5 percent increase from the $400,000 value during the same month last year, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, which released data Monday.

Single-family homes also rose to a record $541,500 in June, a 7.8 percent increase from the same time last year, the association said.

Within the city of Boston, areas like South Boston and Charlestown — neighborhoods with relatively lower costs — have experienced some of the biggest jumps in condo values over the last several months as buyers are unable to find or afford properties in other downtown neighborhoods, said Debra Blair, president of LINK.

“It will be another three to five years before we have inventory,’’ she said. “That will keep pressure on prices going up.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jbmckim.
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