Changing Prices in Suburban Boston Real Estate

As I have pointed out in this space recently, the western suburbs — the “blue chip” towns with a winning mix of quality schools, proximity to Boston and Cambridge, and municipal services — have been relatively buffered from the woes seen in national real estate trends. This has certainly been the case in my neck of the woods, Lexington, where bidding wars were common — yes, common — this spring for houses priced under one million dollars.

This fall, however, we have seen slightly more skittishness from buyers. Houses are still selling typically within 95-plus percent of their asking price and are generally on the market for less than two or three months. We have had a listing or two in this price range during the past month, and the sellers accepted offers within the first week close to asking price. We even had a small bidding war on one of them. But where they might have sold for over asking price in the spring with many bids, the action was slightly less than it would have been in the spring, even for the one of them that was priced over $100,000 below its town-assessed price. This is somewhat predictable. The spring always sees a larger pool of buyers than the fall.

We are noticing that buyers are holding off on making low-ball offers but that when prices have dropped on a few listings, there was instant action, often multiple bids. This was the case with this listing we had. We dropped it from $899,000 to $849,000 and had two offers in hand soon thereafter. In the spring, it is likely that at least one buyer would have made a lower offer while it was still at the $899,000 price. The fall has seemed to need a little bit more stimulus.


Belmont Loft

We have this loft-style condo on the market and are dropping the price from $619,000 to $599,000 this weekend. We are hoping this knocks fence-sitters into action. These sorts of price drops, going into a new $100k price range, can be very effective as sellers open the listing to a buyer pool that might be too low to even look at the higher range. Such buyers may make a Hail Mary pass at an offer. Coupled with a more realistic bid from a second buyer, you have yourself a bidding war.