Newton/Brookline Real Estate- What do the numbers mean?

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board issued their real estate rewind this week. The piece reported on number of sales, median price, under agreements, days on the market, as a comparison of 3rd quarter 07 vs. 3rd quarter of 08.

NEWTON
2007/ 2008
213 SF Homes/ 168 Single Family Homes
$850K Median Price/ $817K Median Price
$978K Average Price/ $998K Average Price
94 Days on the Market/ 95 days on the market

Volume is down 21.5% Median Price down 3.8% Days on market up 1 day

BROOKLINE
2007/ 2008
62 Single Family Homes/ 35 Single Family Homes
$1735K Median Price / $972K Median Price
$1,435K Average price/ $1,400K Average Price
91 days on market/ 93 days on the market

Volume is down 43.5% Median Price is down 32.3%* Days on the market is up 2 days
The most important thing to look at regarding the Brookline numbers is very simple. In August of 07 a house sold for $14 million dollars, that one sale altered the true the numbers for 07 not 08. It is true that fewer higher end homes (over 1.5) went under agreemnt in the 3rd quarter of 08, bringing down the median price, but the reality is, the market in Brookline and Newton has remained relatively strong. At this point, it is clear buyers are on the sidelines, volume is down in both towns 21.1% in Newton and 43.5% in Brookline. Both towns have a fairly sizable population employed in the financial services industry. Many buyers are sitting on the sidelines waiting for the bottom; of course, no one knows where the bottom is, until the market is on the way up. My question is, if todays’ buyers had bought last year and their home dropped 5% in value, what percentage did they lose in the stock market waiting for the bottom of the real estate market? I bet more than 5%. Real Estate is a much safer investment, the bottom fell out of the real estate market in many other areas because of loans people could not afford. Thankfully, Metro Boston has had few foreclosures. Let’s hope the finance people can still afford their homes.

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