Many Boston condos going under agreement are old and tired listings

The Boston real estate market is as strong as it ever has been – stronger, even. Condos sold during the past thirty days in the Boston Proper neighborhoods is at a level higher than in 2011, 2010, or 2009 (and, for all years back to 2003 except for 2007, the height of the bubble).

What’s changed this year is that total units listed for sale is down from prior years. There were 620 condos on the market as of this past Sunday, whereas there were 937 (50% more) condos on the market on the same date back in 2010. There were twice as many condos listed for sale this week in 2009.

Looking at the units that have gone under agreement during just the past seven days, I’m struck by how varied the activity has been – some of the condos are going under agreement within just a couple days of being listed while others have been on the market for three or four months, but some have been on the market for a year or longer.

boston condos under agreement

I don’t have prior years’ data at hand so I can’t say whether this situation is any different from what we’ve seen in earlier years. But, it sticks out to me as something unusual, so I feel it is significant.

The properties that have been listed a long time are getting acceptable offers, even after all this time. Interestingly, several of the listings that finally went under agreement never had price changes – their owners kept the listings close to or at their original prices. (The several I researched had drops of $5-$10,000, so nothing significant.) Eventually, the homeowners’ stubbornness paid off and they have evidently found suitable buyers.

This leads me to believe that it’s because there’s limited supply out there from which buyers can choose. When the economy cratered, many owners took their properties off the market and decided to wait for better times. Others just kept their properties listed the entire time.

Now it looks as though some aged listings are seeing activity. What’s changed is that there are more buyers out there looking, pre-approvals in hand, ready to pounce when they see a property they like.

Usually, the “good” properties (priced accurately, nice quality, appealing interiors, right size) go under agreement within a period of weeks or within the first four to six weeks. That’s pretty much true in any market we’ve seen in the last decade. Then, there are those that drag on, and eventually the owners will reduce the prices, but it might be too late. The listings look old and tired and picked over. The owners might just leave their homes listed for sale or pull them from the market.

Again, I think the “old” listings” getting offers are condos that are being looked at seriously by buyers who can’t find enough of the type of properties they are looking for.

Boston condos for sale and real estate sales report for week ending April 15, 2012

The following is Boston Proper condo and real estate sales data for the week ending April 15 2011, (April 8 2011), (April 17 2011), (April 17 2010), and (April 17, 2009) where available. All condominium closings recorded by our local MLS during the past month.

Number of units currently on the market: 620 (583) (937) (1,291) (n/a)
Average days on market: 109 (115) (123) (109) (n/a)
Median list price: $749,000 ($749,900) ($629,000) ($579,000) (n/a)
Average list price: $1,107,815 ($1,133,932) ($969,818) ($955,058) (n/a)

Number of units under agreement: 191 (184) (152) (186) (n/a)

Number of units sold (past 30 days): 139 (129) (110) (120) (103)
Average days on market: 127 (134) (147) (117) (123)
Median close price: $579,000 ($579,000) ($687,250) ($538,250) ($505,000)
Average close price: $810,542 ($780,628) ($999,638) ($870,655) ($755,774)
Original list to close price: 94% (94%) (94%) (94%) (93%)
Sales velocity: $112,665,280 ($100,700,980) ($109,960,231) ($104,478,544) ($77,844,735)

Thoughts: Keep n mind that average and median closing prices typically drop when there is more business since you get a lot more closings in the mid-price range of condos. (Although we didn’t see that this week.)

This report includes sales and inventory information for condominiums located in the following downtown Boston neighborhoods: South End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, West End, North End, Waterfront, Seaport District, Chinatown, Leather District, Midtown, and Fenway.

Data collected from third-party sources by the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, Inc.

?????! New closings recorded at 45 Province, in Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood

Two new closings have been recorded in the new 45 Province condominium project, located at the foot of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, in the Downtown Crossing shopping district.

The first was a 12th-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with approximately 1,117 square feet of space. At a closing price of $837,000, this is $749 per square foot.

The second was a 12th-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with approximately 1,318 square feet of space. At a closing price of $872,000, this is $661 per square foot.

45 Province is a luxurious 135-unit condominium project. Several of the homes remaining for sale have sweeping views of the Boston Harbor, Boston Common, and points north, south, east and west.

Please contact me for more information and to inquire about buyer’s agent representation.

Photo above of a model unit from the 45 Province sales team.

The Clarendon | Back Bay records latest closing, $1,900,000

The latest closing at The Clarendon, in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, has been recorded.

This was a 21st-floor, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with approximately 1,372 square feet of space. At a closing price of $1,900,000, this is $1,385 per square foot.

A few homes remain in the ultra-luxury Clarendon condominium and apartment complex, including two penthouses with ~3,500 square feet of space.

Please contact me for complete details and to inquire about buyer’s agent representation.

Photo above from the MLSPIN listing of the model unit.

S???a??t???a! Three closings recorded at fun, hip W Boston Residences

Three closings have been recorded in the W Boston Residences and Hotel, located in Boston’s Theater District, located near the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing neighborhoods.

The first was a 22nd-floor, one-bedroom, one-bathroom home with approximately 878 square feet of space. At a closing price of $690,000, this was $786 per square foot.

The second was a 27th-floor, two-bedroom, two and #&189;-half bathroom home with approximately 1,872 square feet of space. At a closing price of $2,200,000, this was $1,175 per square foot.

The third closing was a 23rd-floor, studio home with one bathroom and approximately 512 square feet of space. At a closing price of $480,000, this was $937 per square foot.

Sales were booming at the W in April. A few homes remain of all sizes in the iconic, sleek tower.

Please contact me for more information and to inquire about buyer’s agent representation.

Image above from MLSPIN, of the model unit at the W Boston.

Tippity-top of Boston real estate market gets busy; 3rd sale for over $10 million recorded

The very top of the Boston real estate market is getting crowded.

A single-family home on Beacon Hill was purchased today for $11,000,000, one of three $10-mllion+ closings recorded thus far this year.

This circa 1846 Louisburg Square home has five bedrooms, five and #&189-half bathrooms, 8 fireplaces, and approximately 6,500 square feet of space. The purchase price included two parking spaces on the private square.

The sales price for this home is notable also because the property has been a single-family home, whereas the $12.5 million sale recorded at 15 Commonwealth Ave, earlier this month,, was for a property with ~15,000 square feet that had been turned into office / commercial space.

The third high-end sale was a condominium home in the Mandarin Oriental (a resale) that sold for $10.3 million in February.

Tracy Campion of Campion & Company Fine Homes Real Estate represented both the buyer and seller in the transaction.

The Boston real estate market has had many $1-million dollar sales over the years (see: High-end Boston condominium sales market a mixed bag in 2012, but actually very few $10-million+ sales. There were several at the Mandarin Oriental, developer direct to buyer, but on the resale market, only 7 properties have ever closed for over $10 million.

These were three units resold at the Mandarin, a penthouse condo at 51 Commonwealth Ave, and three single-family homes on Beacon Hill – the aforementioned 15 Commonwealth Ave sale, an $11.5 million Louisburg Square sale last summer, and today’s sale.

Please contact me to find out more about homes on Beacon Hill and other properties listed for sale in this price range.

Image above from MLSPIN

Top 10% of Boston real estate agents pull in 50% of the sales volume

The old adage that “20% of the people do 80% of the work / make 80% of the money” is undoubtedly true when it comes to Boston real estate agents.

The table below shows Boston condominium and single-family sales data for the 2011 calendar year. Of the thousands of licensed real estate agents in Eastern Massachusetts, 2,428 agents were a part of a deal, last year, representing either the buyer, the seller, or both. A “side” is one half of the sales transaction – the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent both have a “side” of a sale.

There were 4,396 sales in 2011, as recorded by our local MLS. (Yeah, the table below says “2012” but it’s actually 2011.)

boston real estate agent salary

The results are not that surprising. The ten most-successful real estate agents in the city are doing the largest number of sales, per person (~46 transactions each). What’s interesting is that only the top .5% of agents are doing 5% of the business, and 11% of the sales volume – so, more transactions, more sales of the most-expensive homes.

Makes sense; if you’re a high-end homeowner looking to list your home for sale, you’ll first search for the agents who are most successful. So, the success of the top agents leads to further success.

The top 2% of all agents handled more than 25% of the sales volume. The top 10% of all agents handled 54% of all sales volume.

What does this all mean? Well, if you’ve ever thought all real estate agents make a lot of money, you’re mistaken. Anyone in the bottom half of all agents is making at most about $25,000 per year. The 1,214th real estate agent in the city, at the median, did only $596,000 worth of business, last year. They’re probably part-time agents who do a couple deals per year, perhaps for family or friends.

The top 20% of agents, all 500 of them, make perhaps $60,000 – $80,000 per year. They’re closing a deal a month, so roughly estimate they’re with 5-6 clients per month (the majority who won’t buy anything). How many leads they follow to get those 5-6 clients can’t be calculated; if direct mail’s return rate is 2%, then it takes 100 leads to get 2 clients. So, they’re reaching to hundreds of potential clients every month.

Does $60,000 per year for a full-time, Boston-based real estate agent seem like a lot of money to you? Do you think agents earn their incomes? Would you work for 100% commission? How many years of little or no business would you accept before making enough to support yourself?

What is the most important value of a real estate agent, do you think? How did you choose your agent? Does previous success make you feel the agent is “better” than the others?

Data collected from third-party sources by the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network, Inc. Data cannot be verified or deemed complete. (Sales do not include developer-direct and foreclosures, for example.)