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Interior Designer Michael Ferzoco’s North End Makeover.

Michael Ferzoco is the principle of Eleven interiors, the Interior design  firm he founded in 2005. Michael’s post below starts a work in progress in the North End. Enjoy.  Michael

We recently began working with a client in Boston’s North End neighborhood.  Over the past 18 months he’s had a number of issues with water leaks and this past summer he began noticing mold on the walls and baseboards.  Our client realized that he needed to bite the bullet and completely renovate the space to guarantee that it was sealed from the elements.  The space is quasi-free standing in that it only shares a fire wall with a mirror image space.  These two units each have their own private entrance from the street.  They are part of a condo association that includes a multi-unit building with 8 condos. It is the mirror image of my client’s space.  The unobstructed views of Boston Harbor from my client’s home are magical.  The space has the potential to be a sweet, little oasis in one of the most ethnically European neighborhoods in the city.

The space feels small at 750 square feet because it’s a duplex.  Yes, that’s right, just about 350 square feet of livable space on each floor in order to accommodate the stair case and entry area.  The space is also awkwardly shaped with two fairly long exterior walls that actually follow the curve of the sidewalk/street. The client has lived in the space for more than 10 years without making any changes. It was originally developed in the late 1990’s.  The space is so poorly laid out that whoever did it originally should have their license revoked. WOW!  Talk about bad flow, bad energy, a poor use of limited space and mediocre, at best, materials. This place had everything wrong with it. See for yourself…


The big question is, how do you take a space like this and create something that’s actually wonderful to live in? Check back here from time to time to follow the transformation.

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Real Estate This Week. Buyers Jump In!

The first full week of March. Continued low inventory and strong demand has created a dynamic where inventory is selling very quickly, many with multiple offers. Pending home sales increased  last month by 44% from last February as per the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. We usually start seeing an increase of market activity in early March culminating in May but this early activity is similar to what we see in a very busy mid spring market. Crazy for the first week in March.

Open houses on the last two Sundays were literally mobbed with 25 – 40 visitors at every open house. Very rarely have we seen 20 parties waiting to get into an open house on Sunday yet this scene was repeated in almost every neighborhood this past weekend.

While new proprieties are coming on the market they are selling just as quickly . The South End has 21% less condominiums available for sale than at the same time last year. Back Bay has 12% less.  Beacon Hill has 41% less. South Boston has 31% less condos for sale then at this time last year.


Our office put 11 properties under agreement in the last 10 days with a volume of $11M, and listed just 10. This is happening all over the city and does not allow for any appreciable and normal build up of inventory heading into the key spring Market. Those properties that went under agreement this weekend were 524 Massachusetts Ave #3, 94 Waltham St # 6 and 343 Commonwealth Ave.


There will be several new properties listed this week that were mentioned “around the table” in my sales meeting yesterday. This activity looks promising and hopefully will begin to build some listing momentum. All are very attractive, well priced properties with prices from $499K and up. Will they stick around long? I will let you know next week.







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Miami Market Buoyed by Foreign Money

An article by Roben Farzad in this weeks Bloomberg Businessweek illustrates a very different Miami and general South Florida real estate market than what we are used to reading about. We hear the good news of decreasing inventory as investors buy up swaths of distressed real estate to turn into rentals, but not a healthy building boom, with full occupancy predicted in a years time.

Roben writes that at least two dozen condo projects have been announced in the past 10 months. The 27-floor Bellini on Williams Island is taking orders for its 70 condos, each with elevators that open directly into the unit. The 65-floor, 1,000-unit Resorts World Miami, featuring a lagoon, casino, shopping mall, and six towers, is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2014. The Mansions at Acqualina, by local developer Jules Trump, will have 79 villas with ocean views and a 16,000-square-foot, $50 million Palazzo di Oro penthouse. Trump says the project registered $200 million in sales in its first month.

Latin Americans, Europeans, and Asians, are said to represent as much as 80 percent of new buyers in the area.  At Trump Hollywood, another superluxury complex (by the Donald, and the Related Group), buyers are South Americans, Canadians, and Russians. Apogee Beach, a new Related Group condo 20 miles north of the city, presold 87 percent of its units to Argentines, Venezuelans, and Mexicans—and only 5 percent to Americans, the developer says. “When we saw that foreigners were again buying condos here, we rapidly adapted,” says Jorge Pérez, Related’s chief executive officer.

Developers predict that Miami’s downtown condo market will reach full occupancy early next year, compared with 8 percent vacancy now—even as 4,500 new condos become available across South Florida. Peter Zalewski, a principal at Condo Vultures, says, “The speculator seeking riches has always been the common thread in South Florida’s boom-bust cycles,”  “The only change today is the extent of foreign investors with strong currencies flooding in.”


It certainly seems like the downtown Miami and South Beach are hot again as international buyers rush to acquire pied-a-terres in what has long been considered the gateway to Latin America. Home sales jumped 46% last year, the Miami Association of Realtors reports. Median monthly rents are up 30%from 2009, according to Condo Vultures, a Miami real state consulting firm.

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Boston Up 1.4% From Low

The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index released this week shows that Boston real estate prices are up 1.4% from  our low in September 2005. Most parts of the country seemed to bottom out in the summer of 2009 and from there began a slow recovery. Many markets have now fallen below that 2009 “bottom” too, but not Boston.  The Case Shiller composite of cities index shows prices decreasing 1.8% since that composite “bottom” in 2009. Hmm…so that really wasn’t the bottom in many markets.

As we fortunate folks in Boston know, we fared much better than most. Atlanta has declined another 17.2% from its low in July 2007. Las Vegas has declined another 19.3% from its ow in August 2006. On the other end of the spectrum San Francisco has increased 8.7% since its low in in May 2006.

Here is some interesting context as we try to make sense of all this analysis and what it means  to us in our  specific neighborhoods. At 2005 year end, which was near Boston’s historic low, the average sales price for a condo in the South End was $527K. At year end 2011 the average sales price of a condo was $656K, an increase of 14.6%. At 2005 year end the average price of a Back Bay condo was $1,038K.  At year end in 2011 it was $1,045K, a .07% increase.

As you can imagine the 1.4% increase in prices from the low in Boston in 2005 represents an average of all neighborhoods.  This composite average price increase is a result of the incredible variety of prices, inventory type, location, condition, and of course supply dynamics in Boston, and drives home the huge variety of buying and selling opportunities that exists today.