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Towns Rush Past Their 2005 Peak Values!

WOW!!!  Interesting post by Scott on

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

South End Heli Shot

OK, I guess the rich towns just keep getting richer.

Home values in Cambridge, Arlington and Brookline have all shot past their peaks reached during the bubble yearsZillow finds in its latest quarterly report.

The median home value in Cambridge (yes trolls, I know, it’s a city, was using “town” loosely) is now $463,000, a level last seen back in 2005, one of the bubbliest years on record. That’s compared to $453,000 in April, 2005.

Brookline last fall blew past its 2005 price peak of $502,000, with the median home value having skyrocketed over the past five months to just under $530,000, according to Zillow, whose home value index blends both prices of homes sold with assessed values of homes that are not on the market. (Basically, it’s a measurement of the value of all homes in the market, not just a compendium of sale prices.)

Arlington is back as well, with a median home value of $475,000 – higher than Cambridge.

That’s compared to Arlington’s bubble years’ peak of $463,000 reached back in October, 2005, Zillow reports.

Meanwhile, other local cities and towns are on target to equal and then pass their 2005 peaks over the next year.

Boston’s median home value is $372,900, a single percent below peak, while Newton, at $714,400, is just two percent off, Somerville, at $381,400, is within striking distance, at 5 percent below its last peak.

Ready to party? What’s the value of your home?


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2013 Spring Market – Forbes

Below is a great post from Forbes. It is a concise review of the four main drivers effecting the spring market nationally. Locally we are most effected by inventory shortages and increased competition… and yes, cash is still king.

Morgan Brennan, Forbes Staff

 4 Things You Need to Know About Spring 2013 Home Buying Season

Springtime is for selling houses. The months of April, May, June and July typically account for more than 40% of all housing transactions annually, in large part thanks to weather.

But unlike the painful post-bubble home buying seasons of the past several years, this year has kicked off amidst a cornucopia of experts trumpeting the U.S. housing market’s recovery. Inventory is at record lows, home prices are on the upswing and foreclosure activity has ebbed in many parts of the country. In 2012 residential real estate contributed its first positive year of gains to the overall economy since 2005, and the Federal Reserve has repeatedly called housing a “bright spot” of the economy.

The rosy recovery statistics have an increasing number of Americans feeling more confident about the prospect of buying a home.  A March survey from Fannie Mae revealed that 48% of consumers believe home prices will rise over the next year — an all-time survey high.  And another recent survey, from Prudential Real Estate, found that confidence is at a high of 69% among folks thinking about buying a home.

While promising news for aspiring sellers, it means that many of this year’s spring and summertime buyers will face a markedly different landscape than their predecessors did just a year or two ago. “In many markets around the country we have fundamentally shifted from a buyers’ market to a sellers’ market,” says Budge Huskey, chief executive of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate.

Inventory Shortages

“The story of the day is on the inventory front,” stresses Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.  It’s a sentiment echoed by many.

The number of available homes has plunged to record lows, thanks to both an abnormally small supply of existing homes for sale and a dearth of new construction. Despite the fact that new residential construction is on the rise, the current annualized rate of 618,000 housing starts is still well below the 1.5 million annual starts indicative of a healthy market, according to experts. And with more than 10 million homeowners still underwater on their mortgages, many prospective sellers are holding off on listing until home prices strengthen further.

Coupled with the brisk pace of sales, there is currently 4.7-month supply of existing homes on the market (a six-month supply is considered healthy),according to the National Association of Realtors.  That’s nearly 20% less nationally that during this time last year, and in the most sought-after markets levels are down by as much as 50%, 60%.

Traditionally this time of year welcomes a jump in inventory levels as sellers time their listings with the buying season. But even an uptick in stock won’t be enough to fend off the looming shortages in some markets: “I don’t see any relief to the housing shortage. It can only come from new home construction, which will take time to come online,” says Yun.  He and other economists suspect inventory levels will remain tight throughout the rest of this year, especially since construction lending for many small- to medium-sized homebuilders remains constrained.

Increased Competition

In addition to a dwindling supply of available homes, the number of buyers has surged. And not traditional buyers. Investors have comprised a sizeable chunk of the buyer pool since the downturn and continue to do so. NAR estimates that real estate investors are responsible for about 20% of existing home sales each month.  In hard hit markets, particularly in Sun Belt states like Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida, domestic and foreign investors have been even more prevalent.

More interestingly, investors haven’t just consisted of mom-and-pop landlords and professional house flippers either. Wall Street institutions – private equity firms and hedge funds, predominantly – have allocated billions to large-scale single-family homes, snatching up distressed properties and transforming them into rentals, typically through bulk sales. Major Wall Street firms, including Blackstone and Colony Capital, have accounted for as much as 30% of sales activity in Miami, Fla., 19% of sales in Las Vegas, Nev., and 16% of sales in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2012, according to data provider CoreLogic,helping push home prices up dramatically in all three metro areas.

Investors aside, traditional consumers have been haggling over the most desirable properties — on good streets, near good schools, in move-in condition – as well. Realtors in many markets have been reporting bidding wars since late last year. “Prices are being bid up above asking price, particularly in the mid-range of the market,” says Huskey.  “In the Seattle market, for example, our agents say quality properties have been receiving six to 10 offers within the first week.”

He also notes that in areas where bidding wars have been especially prevalent, buyer tactics reminiscent of the housing bubble, for example, proffering photos of children and personal letters demonstrating why a bidder should be chosen, have begun to creep back into the marketplace.

What does this competition mean? That you the prospective buyer need to be prepared to move fast if you find a property you’d like to buy. “Buyers need to be patient because many will be outbid by others and might have to bid on multiple homes,” cautions Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. “It also means thinking hard about the trade off: what you need to have in your home and what you’re willing to bend on because with tight inventory and lots of competition, it will be a temptation to take what you can get.”

Cash Is Still King

Given the steep competition, all-cash buyers who can close a deal relatively quickly offer great incentive to sellers. “Cash will still be king if there are multiple bids because from a seller’s view, they want a deal with fewer hiccups,” says Yun. About 30% of home sales are all-cash each month, according to NAR.

Over the past few years, mortgage lending has been incredibly tight – an irony given the fact that rates continue to hover near record lows. And due to the overwhelming number of foreclosures acting as comps, appraisals coming in under the agreed-upon price have steadfastly hampered many a financed deal.

The good news: LendingTree chief executive Doug Lebda says, in light of the recently unveiled new home-lending standards, lenders are slowly starting to make it slightly easier to get approved. “Lenders are reducing credit standards, allowing higher loan-to-value ratios than in the past,” says Lebda. “Nothing below the FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, but they are underwriting closer to them.” And as home prices rise – Case-Shiller reported an 8% yearly increase in February – appraisals may begin to fall more in line with pending sales prices.

In the meantime, cold hard cash continues to hold sway in many markets, say realtors. To better compete against the speedy certainty that a stack of green promises, buyers taking out a mortgage should always get preapproval before they embark on their hunt and plan on plunking down a sizeable downpayment.

Less Distressed Deals

The good news for housing as a whole is that nationally foreclosure activity is falling. RealtyTrac reports 30 consecutive months of declines on a national level, driven largely by double-digit declines in many of the traditional foreclosure hotspots like California, Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.

Decrease in activity coupled with fierce competition from investors targeting distressed inventory means the possibility of picking up a decent fixer-upper at a discounted price from the bank has greatly narrowed. And when such a property does come to market, the discounts are much smaller than they once were. In February short sales and foreclosures comprised 25% of home sales,  down from 34% a year ago, according to NAR. And the discounts have diminished too: short sales fetched 15% discounts on average, foreclosures 18%.

“Foreclosure inventory has been somewhat picked over,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. The largest distressed inventory increases have been among homes built prior to 1960 and/or valued below $50,000. “Finding one in a condition the buyer can work with in a decent location has become a challenge to find.”

Nonetheless real estate is local and, despite the drop in foreclosure activity nationwide, several states are actually experiencing significant increases in foreclosure starts, as lenders continue to process a backlog of defaults. This is especially true of judicial foreclosure states. “In some of the markets like Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio, we have seen increases in foreclosure activity counter to the national trend,” notes Blomquist. “Many aren’t listed for sale yet so this season some of them will be will be. So from a buyer perspective there may be some more inventory in the pipeline.”

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Big Leap In Spring Sales

South End Heli ShotMarket resilience to low invent0ry levels is surprising, but as Scott reports sales continue to increase.

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  April 9, 2013 06:44 AM

Will dwindling listings derail the real estate recovery?

At least for now, the answer is no.

The number of pending sales across the state jumped 4.6 percent in March compared to the same time last year, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports.

In fact, the 4,308 homes put under agreement was the best showing since March 2005, at the height of the real estate bubble, when buyers laid claim to 4,404 homes.

That’s just a percentage or two difference.

Pending condo sales also took a big jump in March, surging 9.4 percent to 1,888.

Given the number of homes and condos for sale is down roughly a quarter from this time in 2012, buyers are clearly biting the bullet and taking the plunge anyway.

There’s certainly anecdotal evidence of homes that couldn’t sell last year being put on the market and getting offers now.

Buyers are looking past flaws that might have been deal breakers before and likely paying more as well.

And there’s some hard evidence as well.

Home prices in Greater Boston moved up 10.6 percent in February, slightly above the national average, the Boston Business Journal notes in this post on the latest CoreLogic report.

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January Sales At Highest In Five Years.

News from The Warren Group:

Bay State January Home Sales At Highest Level In Five Years

Condo Sales Break 1,000 Mark For First Time Since 2008

The Warren Group

The strong sales trend in January in just the beginning of a hot spring selling season. Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group, weighs in.

Single-family home sales in Massachusetts rose more than 10 percent in January to 2,680, reaching the highest level since 2007, according to new data from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

January home sales in the Bay State were up over last year’s 2,436 sales. This is the highest January sales volume for single-family homes in Massachusetts in five years, when there were 2,953 transactions in January 2007.


We ended 2012 on a pretty positive note, and this is carrying into January,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. “Recent pending sales data are a hopeful sign for a strong spring market. And given low mortgage rates and steady prices, there are positive signs that 2013 will be a second year of recovery.”

The median sale price of single-family homes in Massachusetts increased for the fourth consecutive month in January. Median sale prices rose 6.8 percent in January to $277,750, up from $260,000 in January 2012. This is the highest median home price for January in three years.

“Low inventory is slowly driving up prices. This should in turn give sellers more confidence to put their homes on the market,” Warren said.

Condominium sales statewide also rose in January, increasing almost 11 percent to 1,006 from 907 in January 2012. This is the first January since 2008 where home sales broke the 1,000 mark.

The median condo price in January slipped almost 2 percent to $240,000 from $244,500 in January 2012. This is the lowest price for condos statewide since 2009, when the median price was $209,900.

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44th Annual South End House Tour

Get a Glimpse Inside the South End’s Coolest Homes on the South End House Tour

This year’s South End House Tour will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20.

by Sara Jacobi…South End Patch

It’s a little bit like the History Channel meets HGTV. Right in your backyard.

Get a peek into several of the South End’s historically notable or highly designed homes on the 44th annual South End House Tour, put on by the South End Historical Society.

The tour, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a self-guided walk through six amazing South End homes starting at the Southwest Corridor and ending mid-way down Shawmut Avenue. Since the tour is at-your-own-pace and snakes around on a more than 1 mile path, the full tour can take anywhere from two to four hours. It starts at the Boston Center for the Arts.

South End Historical Society Executive Director Hope Shannon said the idea for the house tour began more than four decades ago as a way to showcase the creativity and history of the neighborhood.

“People were buying a lot of run down or abandoned buildings in the South End and restoring them,” she said. “The neighborhood was much different back then.”

Today, the tour seeks to showcase all sorts of notable homes, from the historical, to the “green,” to the homes with unique architecture or high design.

Special to the 2012 tour is a combination deal with the Ellis Memorial Antique Show, which will be held at the Cyclorama on the same day. A ticket to the house tour comes with a complimentary admission to the antiques show. This year’s tour will also feature a stop inside the New Hope Baptist Church, which will soon be turned into condo apartments.

Shannon said that besides serving as a significant fundraiser for the historical society, the house tour’s main goals are to continue bringing people into the South End and to showcase the neighborhood’s history and charm.

“The neighborhood has changed so much, and the homes have so much history,” she said. “We want to remind people of the long history and bring awareness for continued preservation. We want visitors to leave with positive memories of the people they meet and the businesses they patronize, and recognize the South End is an important place historically.”

Tickets are on sale now through Oct. 19 for $25, and can be purchased online at the Historical Society’s website or through several different realtors in the neighborhood. Tickets will also be on sale on the day-of for $30 each. A $50 ticket includes admission to a private party at an additional house. 

Related Topics: south end historical society and south end house tour

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Boston Q3 Condo Sales Review

The Big Number is 21%. That’s the increase in condo sales year over year at the end of the 3rd quarter, September 30. Combined, all Boston neighborhoods saw a 21% increase in the number of condo sales year to date, a 3% increase in the average price of a condominium sold to $545K, and an 8% increase in the median sales price to $409K. This real estate market is healthy except for the continuing decrease in inventory levels. Inventory levels of available condo’s for sale have fallen 41% to 919 properties for sale versus 1,567 at this time last year.

The Back Bay,  saw a 20% increase in sales year to date, but the average price  of a condo sold dropped by 2% to $1.120M. The inventory level of condos for sale dropped 53% to 95 condos for sale vs 204 last year.

The South End saw a 13% increase in the number of condo sales to 425 condos sold year to date compared to 377 last year.  The average price of a condo sold increased 4% to $690K compared with $665K last year. The inventory of condos for sale decreased 52% from 173 last year to 83 today. This will continue to be a factor in market performance going forward.

South Boston saw a 28% increase in the number of condo sales year to date compared with 360 last year. The average sales price of a condo increased by 9% to $421K compared with $388K last year.  South Boston has the largest drop in inventory of all downtown n’hoods down 60% from 196 properties for sale last year to 78 available for sale today.

Inventory remains the problem, but as I have said repeatedly this market is so resilient and so desirable that declining inventory levels have not negatively effected the steady increase in sales and prices. Go figure!



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Lack of Inventory In Boston Getting Serious

My good friend, excellent agent and blogger Briggs Johnson at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage hits it squarely on the mark with this post which illustrates the decrease in inventory year over year and its potential effect on the market. I have posted it in its entirety below. Visit his blog. 

September 18, 2012 By 

“The Caravan Indicator”

There are several indicators and indexes that people follow to determine market conditions.  The indicator I am going to use that sparked this blog entry is  going to called the “Caravan Indicator”. What many people don’t know is that behind the scenes here at Coldwell Banker (downtown), every few weeks, we hire a bus to drive us all around town to check out new listings in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, South Boston and the Seaport District etc. Its a great way for us to view new inventory and for us to be knowledgeable of the market in all price points. Today, is caravan day and it was cancelled due to lack of inventory…..Wait, What?! I can understand there being a cancelled caravan in late fall or August when everyone is on vacation, but not now, not September, not in the second week of the second strongest time of year to get new inventory. Really?

I was ready to bounce around the city and view some properties, but, since that wasn’t happening, I did some research to see how limited inventory really is. I went on MLS and looked up current inventory, the amount of listings currently under agreement and the amount of listings that have been sold in the past 2 months. The numbers don’t lie and I found them pretty shocking. Since I really only focus on the downtown neighborhoods. I used the 4 neighborhoods i do a lot of business in . Here are the Stats:

Neighborhood         # of Listings    # Under Agreement      # Sold in last 2 months

Back Bay                            104                                  57                                   124

South End                          78                                   57                                    110

Beacon Hill                        59                                  14                                      41

Seaport District               16                                  7                                        23


Last Year (2011)              # of Listings                          % Decrease from 2011

Back Bay                                213                                                           52%

South End                             183                                                           58%

Beacon Hill                            82                                                             28%

Seaport District                   37                                                             57%


The way I look at this information is that it is a great time to sell and list a property. There are a ton of buyers out there and they are in desperate need of decent inventory. On the flip side, If you are a buyer looking in these neighborhoods, be prepared to be frustrated and be ready to enter a multiple offer situation (if you are a serious buyer looking in a popular area). In the South End alone there have been 24 places go under agreement in the past 2 weeks.  If you are a buyer looking in the South End under $450k. there are only 9 places on the market and only 3 of them are north of Washington Street. If you are a buyer looking in the 800-1 million range in the Back Bay, there are only 11 listings on the market.  Six of those listings have been on the market for over 100 days, so quality is as compromised as quantity right now. If you are a Beacon Hill buyer looking from 600-900k there are only 3 listings on the market. 2 of those listings have been on the market for over 170 days. Brutal!!

I can understand that sellers are hesitant to list because there  isn’t much to move into if they sell and want to stay in downtown Boston. But if you are a possible seller looking to move out of state or to the “burbs” this could be an ideal time to make the jump.

I know all downtown agents are saying “list your property now” but hopefully some of this data, makes you think about the scenario with a different tone. Have hope and don’t be afraid to enter the market, just be informed and realistic.

Happy Hunting and Start Listing!!



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More Evidence That Home Prices Have Hit Bottom.

Great article in the WSJ. Nick Timiraos does a great job in putting things in perspective.

By Nick Timiraos of The Wall Street Journal

In each of the last three years, home prices have increased in the spring and summer, when more people are buying homes, before giving back all of those gains and then some in the fall and winter, when activity cools.

But it is beginning to look like that might not happen this year, absent a major stumble for the economy.

Home prices in July were up by 3.8% from one year ago, the largest year-over-year jump in six years. Moreover, prices have shot up by 9.6% from February, when they registered their lowest levels of the housing downturn, according to CoreLogic CLGX +0.40% data released Tuesday.

This adds evidence to the case that U.S. home prices may have hit bottom earlier this year. Even though prices will soften in the autumn, “we have a much better supply and demand dynamic” than in previous years, said Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic.

So when people say they believe home prices haven’t reached a bottom—that this year’s seasonal gains will be wiped away by January or February of next year—here’s the relevant question: Will home prices fall by 9.6% in the next six months?

Anything, of course, is possible. Home prices fell in the winter—what Mr. Fleming calls the “offseason”—in each of the last three years to record a new low. But they have not fallen by 9.6% in any six-month span since March 2009, which was when the U.S. economy was still in recession.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: While the year-over-year comparisons look good right now, the economy—and workers’ wages—aren’t growing fast enough to justify this kind of increase on a sustained basis.

Instead, the snapback in home prices in the last six months is more an indication of how prices “over-shot” over the past year. Investors, sensing deals, began buying up homes. The most likely scenario for home prices over the next year is that they may rise, but not at the breakneck pace of the past few months (and they’ll fall on a relative basis in the coming months due to normal seasonal factors).

There are other serious headwinds. It’s still hard to get a mortgage, and many households have too much debt. Millions of homeowners owe more than their homes are worth. Millions more have enough equity to sell their house but not enough to make a down payment on their next house and pay a real-estate broker’s commission.

As we’ve written many times before, the strong rise in home prices this year owes as much to sharp declines in inventory as it does to demand-side improvement. Banks have been much slower to take back and list foreclosed properties, easing pressure on home prices but leaving a bloated “shadow inventory” of potential foreclosures.

These homes will weigh on markets for years, though there’s less evidence that they will be dumped on the market at once. While the shadow inventory may not lead to a big drop in prices that some have feared, it will probably keep a lid on future home-price gains.

Finally, lower mortgage rates have dramatically increased the purchasing power of today’s home buyers when compared to one year ago. Some real-estate executives are nervous that demand isn’t stronger given today’s low mortgage rates, and they’re worried about what will happen if rates rise.

The bottom line: Don’t be surprised if the all-time low in home prices is in the rearview mirror. But this doesn’t mean a full-on recovery is here, and there’s little evidence that the current pace of improvement can continue. For now, home prices appear to be bumping along a bottom.

Follow Nick @NickTimiraos


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Condo Association Hints

We recently had a closing where the buyers had always owned single family homes and never a condominium, so didn’t have any idea of how Condo Associations worked. So…an HOA (home owners association) primer follows. Yes, condo documents are boring, association meeting notes are boring, budgets are boring… but get to know your new new homeowners association! Don’t be surprised by assessments, crazy leadership, unreasonable rules..get to know your HOA and then work with your HOA to make your property a better investment. Below is a great post from Inman News.

Inman News

Here are a few guidelines for buyers-to-be and new owners of condos and other properties in HOAs:

1. Read the HOA disclosures — thoroughly. When you get into contract on a home that is located within an HOA, you receive a bulky stack of documentation about the association. It can be a mind-numbing, eye-twitch-inducing pile of bank account statements, historical documents and legalese. However, these materials are uber-important, as they provide the details and contours of this new business and interpersonal relationship you are about to embark on with your neighbors.

Things like the HOA’s plans for ongoing maintenance and upgrades, the HOA budget, the cash they have in reserve — all these things have the potential to impact your household budget.

For example, if the building needs a new roof and there’s not enough cash to cover the costs, most HOAs have the power to levy a special assessment on each owner for their share of the cost! The fact that you own your place means you also own some share of the responsibility for the building. That’s what owning in an HOA is all about.

Additionally, as you’ve learned the hard way, there are loads of HOA guidelines that may impact your lifestyle and your plans for your home. I have received dozens and dozens of notes over the years from condo owners like yourself protesting HOA restrictions on everything from parking to pet size and even flooring material and paint colors! Yes, the place belongs to you, but when you buy into a condo you opt into following the guidelines the HOA has in place for ensuring every owner can enjoy their home and all can live in peace.

I suspect the fee of concern to you covers the management company’s processing of your plans for modifying your home to ensure their compliance with HOA and other guidelines.

The ideal here is to read these documents thoroughly as part of your decision-making about whether to buy the property while you still have time to back out of the transaction if you don’t want to be bound by the HOA’s strictures.

2. Read more casual HOA member documents. Along with the formal HOA disclosures, condo buyers often receive a set of more casual documents, including a copy of the building rules and regulations, and the community newsletters. In my experience, these documents can actually be even more telling than the formal ones in terms of previewing for you the daily experience of living in the community. Yes, you’re likely to see a fair amount of minutiae, like recipes and block party announcements.

But you’re also likely to see things like board meeting agendas with line items like discussions of whether to raise the HOA dues, and conversations about any concerning, large repairs that might need doing. If you haven’t read these documents yet, you should now, to prevent further nasty or costly surprises.

In the same vein, I encourage condo buyers and new owners to talk with the building manager about common complaints and community issues (including fee increases) that are on the horizon, as well as connecting with other homeowners in the building or complex about their experience and any surprise costs or unpleasant rules they have encountered.

3. Participate in your HOA. Read the agendas of your HOA’s board meetings before they happen, attend the meetings and even participate on your board if possible. HOA boards ultimately have the power to impose dues increases, select the accounting and insurance vendors whose work and fees are so critical to the costs of living in the community, and select the contractors who do major building and community upgrades and repairs.

If you have a very strong issue with fees or rules that are currently governing your experience as a homeowner, the best way to address them is to become a vocal, active participant in your HOA board.


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Boston Condo Prices Set Record… And A Scarcity Of Units Ensues!

Yesterdays Boston Globe article follows for those who didn’t see it. It is all the buzz!… and for good reason.

Globe Staff / July 24, 2012
Condominium values in Boston’s core reached a record high during the second quarter of this year as eager buyers drove up sales, according to data­ scheduled to be released Tuesday.
The median price in a dozen downtown neighborhoods — they include Beacon Hill, the Fenway, the North End, and South Boston — climbed to $515,000 during the three months that ended June 30, according to LINK, meaning half sold for more than that price and half for less. That topped the previous peak of $498,500 in 2008, just prior to the nation’s financial crisis. LINK, a Boston company, tracks the downtown condominium market.
The increase adds to mounting evidence that the state’s housing market is on the mend, housing specialists said.

The feeling out there is prices are not going to soften anymore,” said Barry ­Bluestone, the director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. “We are seeing the real signs of a recovery in the housing market.”

Even during the worst years of the real estate industry’s decline, condominium prices in some of Boston’s more desirable areas fell only modestly, putting the local market in a better position to rebound. Prices and sales were propped up by higher-income homeowners who were hurt less during the recession, as well as by the increasing popularity of urban living coupled with limited inventory, housing specialists said.

“The city attracts young and old by providing fun and beauty, art and restaurants, all without needing a car,” said a Harvard University economist, Edward­ Glaeser, author of the book “Triumph of the City.”

Trisha Collins McCarthy, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said many condominium buyers like the idea of trading long, congested commutes for city conveniences. “We have more of a population that has said, ‘I want to be near the train,’ ’’ she said.

After dropping for a couple of years, downtown condo prices started to climb in 2010. This year, that growth has been bolstered by continued low interest rates and improving consumer confidence, according to housing specialists.

Condominium sales volume was up sharply during the second quarter of this year, to 1,051, or nearly 36 percent more than during the same three months of last year.

The median sale price of condominiums in luxury buildings — those that offer amenities such as concierge and valet services — also climbed.

The $779,000 median closing price for the luxury condos was 7.8 percent higher than during the second quarter of 2011, LINK said, compared with 7.5 percent higher for the all of the Boston neighborhoods measured by the company.

The number of luxury condo sales during the past three months increased by 22.2 percent to 198, the company said.

Statewide, single-family home values remained essentially flat in June, at $331,000, compared with June 2011, while the number of sales increased by 18 percent to 5,099, according to William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance. It is based in Shelton, Conn., but also does business in Massachusetts.

Even though more people are signaling they are ready to buy a condominium in Boston, real estate agents say they struggle to find enough units to show. Only 531 properties were available in the downtown area on the last day of June, about half the number up for sale on that day in 2011, LINK reported.

Eddy Foley, 45, said he has spent six months looking for a South End condominium priced in the $500,000 range. He found one he wanted, but lost out when someone else bid $34,000 over the asking price.

“It’s torture out there,” Foley said. “There’s really nothing available.”

Carmela Laurella, president of the Boston-based real estate company CL Waterfront Properties LLC, said condominiums priced reasonably are selling quickly.

Indeed, sales on the Boston waterfront jumped by 72.7 percent in the second quarter, compared with the second quarter of 2011. The median price for a waterfront condominium increased by 21.2 percent, to $827,000, LINK found.

“We have more demand than we have property to sell,’’ Laurella said. “We can barely list anything without it going under [a purchase agreement] within a couple of weeks.”

John Ranco, a senior sales associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate in the South End, said times have changed so drastically that real estate agents are now searching to locate interested sellers rather than wary buyers.

“The supply side is really hurting,” Ranco said. “There is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at [email protected]