Downtown Boston's housing market is competitive, to say the least

Greater Boston residents have seen their city's economy improve vastly over the past year. The unemployment rate in the Bay State stood at 7.4 percent in August 2011, and a year later in August 2012, the rate dropped to 6.3 percent. While this metric remains relatively high compared to the 2.6 percent rate in August 2000, progress is nonetheless apparent.

Buyers may be encouraged by the stabilization of both the U.S. and Boston economy. With job creation reaching new heights across America, Boston remains a favorable place to live for students, families, young professionals and workforce veterans.

Nevertheless, real estate in Boston continues to impress with both a high sales rate and a shortage of available homes. Nowhere in Boston is this more obvious than in the South End, where properties leave the market just as soon as they enter.

According to a local real estate blog, properties sold year-to-date in the core downtown neighborhoods of Boston, which includes Back Bay, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, Chinatown, Fenway, Leather District, Midtown, North End, Seaport, South End, South Boston, Theater District, Waterfront and West End, rose 27 percent year-over-year from 2,213 transactions to 28,13. Sales of luxury properties, which are homes that exceed $1 million, in the core downtown neighborhoods increased 22.5 percent year-over-year from 354 transactions to 434.

In fact, Boston's condominium market is in full throttle, with buyers feeling additional pressure to make purchasing decisions quickly in order to enter a home closing before another prospective buyer. According to The Boston Globe, the median sale price for condos in Greater Boston was $380,000 in August 2012 - up 3.5 percent year-over-year. Sales of condos during the same time period increased 23.1 percent in August 2012.

What was even more impressive was the amount of time it took for properties to get picked up after entering the marketplace. According to the news source, the average time it took to sell a condo in downtown Boston fell to 76 days in August 2012 - down 18.4 percent year-over-year. In addition, inventory dropped 42.3 percent when compared to the same time period last year.

The Boston housing market is a pressure-filled environment, and prospective buyers who want to find their dream homes need to come to the table prepared, with down payments in hand and with a will to outbid buyers looking for similar amenities in a home. Otherwise, the top-notch for-sale properties will remain hard to get.