Single Family Homes, Condos Are Hot in Charlestown

November 5, 2015
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By Seth Daniel

The Charlestown real estate market is undoubtedly as healthy as a top professional athlete, but delving into the most recent numbers shows that prices for single-family homes and condos have been the foods that have fed the recent surge in the market.

According to the MLS Property Information Network (PIN) and a study done by Charlestown resident and real estate professional Jane Reitz, buyers are looking for single-family homes in Charlestown and there will likely never be enough to quench the thirst.

“The big thing is single-families,” said Reitz of the recently formed Reitz Realty Group. “Everything from a gut rehab to a high-end purchase. There will never be an oversupply of single-family homes here because there are so few and so many people are craving them. Supply will never meet demand.

“This is a six-month phenomenon and very new,” she continued. “We had our first $2 million home sold in Charlestown a few years ago. Now in the last six to eight months we had a $1.9 million sale, a $1.8 million sale and a $1.3 million sale on Cedar Street where they’re going to do work and have no parking. This kind of thing hasn’t happened before and it’s people from other areas of the city.”

Because there are so few single-families, there isn’t a huge amount of data.

From April to August of 2014, there were 39 single-family listings sold at and average price of $809,016. For the same period in 2015, there were 41 sold at an average price of $1.046 million.

And things moved quickly as well for those record prices. The average day on the market before an offer came was only 18 days.

Reitz said she believes that a lot of it has to do with families from areas like the South End, Back Bay, Beacon Hill or even those relocating from the suburbs who want to raise their children in the city and live close to work.

That, she said, is a quality of life decision that she believes many are making, and she said Charlestown and South Boston are the most popular destinations for these folks.

“We have popularity, families and young people coming to us,” she said. “We’re such a better value than the South End, Back Bay or Beacon Hill. Southie is comparable in popularity, but in Charlestown you get the families because of the school situation and couples who are staring out and want to stay. Southie is younger and doesn’t have the family vibe that we do.”

Having sold real estate since 2005 and having lived in Charlestown since 1998, Reitz said the genesis of the recent surge came only a few years ago.

“In 2005 we corrected and up to 2012 we were flat in Charlestown,” she said. “Then overnight in 2013, that spring it was dramatic. We saw prices we had never seen. We didn’t know if it was a one-off or a trend. What happened is inventory became scarce and Charlestown’s popularity grew. The two things converged and it was not just an inventory issue. Inventory would have to increase so much to meet demand because we have so little inventory. Even with a correction, I find that one of the best values in the entire city is Charlestown.”

A similar situation has unfolded in the last year for condos, where numbers show that inventory has increased, but prices have also increased.

There were 130 condos sold between April and August 2014 at an average price of $589,068. Yet, in the same time period in 2015, there were 164 sold at an average price of $657,501.

“We had 30 percent more inventory in condos, yet nobody feels like that’s the case,” Reitz said. “It was a staggered inventory and so even though inventory increased, prices also increased. One thing is that rents are going so high. It’s so expensive to rent and that drives people to buy a condo. People see themselves throwing away money on rent when they can have a mortgage and equity in a condo for a similar expense.”

Reitz lives in Charlestown with her husband, and her children attend the Warren Prescott. She just recently formed the Reitz Realty Group on Warren Street.