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Boston condo market held steady last year

Sales, prices move little in 2011; luxury units edge higher

Boston’s downtown condominium market remained relatively stable last year, with total sales and the median price - $474,250 - almost identical to 2010 figures, according to new data scheduled to be released today.

The luxury condo market, defined as buildings with full-service amenities such as concierges and valets, fared slightly better, according to Link, a private Boston company that tracks the downtown market. Sales in luxury buildings grew by nearly 3 percent compared with 2010 and the median price increased to $719,500, 8.2 percent higher than a year ago.

The numbers offer additional evidence that Boston’s more expensive downtown condo market has remained relatively strong since 2005, when prices began to weaken statewide.


Despite a double-digit drop in property values across Massachusetts during that period, median home values in the downtown Boston condo market are up about 2 percent compared with 2005, according to Link. The company tracks condo sales in 12 Boston neighborhoods, including the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the South End, and the Fenway. It doesn’t include neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Roxbury, Allston, and Brighton.

“The city market has been incredibly resilient through all of this,’’ said John Ranco, a senior sales associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate. “Demand remains strong here.’’

Contributing to steady home values is a tight inventory, which is increasing competition for well-priced properties, housing specialists say. There were 495 condos on the market during the last quarter of 2011, the lowest fourth-quarter total in at least a decade, according to Link president Debra Taylor Blair.

Taylor Blair said many homeowners are delaying putting their properties for sale, hoping that prices will eventually start to go up again. That means that there a fewer upscale condos available, and at higher prices. For example, sales in the luxury market dropped nearly 31 percent in the last three months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010, while median prices jumped by 33.61 percent to $795,000, data show.


Taylor Blair said some downtown condos sold significantly above their previous price.

“What shocked me were some of the resales on some of the relatively new projects,’’ she said. “Buyers are going to be challenged in trying to find appropriate properties.’’

David Stenberg, manager of the Boston operations of Hammond, said he has seen a rise in buyer interest over the last six months. But he does not expect that to lead to a dramatic surge in prices. “There is pent-up buyer demand,’’ Stenberg said. “I think it is going to be a slow, steady process.’’

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at