Thursday, April 08, 2010

The condominium market

The records here at the registry of deeds provide us only a limited ability to discern what is built upon each property, but we can usually pick out condominiums with ease. Consequently, I've applied a "condominium filter" to some of our recording statistics. In 2009 in the city of Lowell, for instance, condominiums accounted for one out of every three foreclosures. In the nine towns in the Middlesex North District, one out of every four foreclosures was a condominium.

The primary reason condominium foreclosures are relatively high is the roller coaster ride of prices through the last decade. Back in 2000, the median price of a condo in Lowell was $90,000. In 2005 when prices reached their peak, that number rose to $194,900. By 2009 it had slid to $147,000. If you bought a condo in 2000 and still owned it (and hadn't refinanced in the interim), you'd be in pretty good shape. But if you bought anytime near mid-decade, you probably paid more for the unit than it is now worth.

Similar trends apply to condo values in the towns of the Middlesex North District. In 2000, the median condo price was $142,900, in 2005 it was $256,500, and in 2009 it was $215,500. The 2005 to 2009 drop was 16% which means that if you bought in 2005 and borrowed more than 80% of the then value of the property, you now owe more on your mortgage than your unit is worth.


bostonbubble said...

Is this "condominium filter" something the public could do too? If so, how did you do it, and do you know if this would work equally well for other Massachusetts registries? Thanks.

Dick said...

Can the "condo filter" be used by the public? Yes and no. I searched for street addresses containing the word "unit" which is how we index condominiums. On the ACS system, the "wildcard" character for doing searches is %, so if you put in the "street name" field " %unit " you will get for results any document that deals with a condo. The reason this won't work as well for you is that the property search screen does not allow you to limit by document type. With the access I have to the database, I can do that which is how I obtained my data. You could conceivably obtain the same data despite the limitations of the public website interface, but it would be quite burdensome.

bostonbubble said...

Thanks for the reply. Somewhat related, is there a "residential" filter that could be used to exclude commercial and industrial property? Maybe that's not even necessary - does even index non-residential property? Sorry if this is a dumb question or too far off topic.