analytics general info

Signs Of Recovery Even With The Cliff!

A repost of Jennifer McKim’s article in the Boston Globe follows. It shows significant evidence that we are in a real estate recovery even in the broader Massachusetts market.  We have been experiencing The Recovery in downtown Boston and on the outer Cape for months now, but this broader evidence is very welcome news as we enter the NewYear.

The pullquote below from the article states what we are hearing all aross the country. Good news especially as we deal with the ramifications of the possible Fiscal Cliff.

It feels like a housing market that has now switched into the mode of helping drive a recovery,

The Boston Globe/December 28, 2012/Jennifer McKim GLOBE STAff

  • Analysts say prices remained stable, while the number of single­family units sold rose steeply
  • A surge in home sales in November and strengthening property values are adding to a growing sentiment in the real estate industry that 2012 will mark when the housing market in Massachusetts officially began its recovery.

SOURCE: The Warren Group
With the supply of available properties still thin, homes are selling quickly and prices are edging up, prompting real estate specialists to predict that the days of bargain prices for residences are likely to be over soon.

“This year marks the shift in housing,” said John Ranco of Hammond Residential Real Estate in South Boston. “Over the next couple of years we will start to see prices heat up a little bit.”

Last month, 4,539 single-family properties traded owners — the best November for sales since the market peak in 2005, the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate, reported Thursday.

The number of single-family home sales through the first 11 months of 2012 exceeded that of all of last year, and the year will probably be the strongest since 2006.

Through the first 11 months of the year, home prices were about where they were for 2011 — at a median price of $288,000 — a trend that industry officials said represents a stabilized market.

In the more active market in Greater Boston, median prices were 1.1 percent above where they were in 2011, at $456,500 for single-family properties, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. It’s been seven years since the housing market in Massachusetts first showed signs of slowing, and during the steepest period of the downturn values plunged 20 percent, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show. Prices have since rebounded modestly, though values have also bounced during the past three years.

But now, prices appear to be on the upswing — with Boston area home values up 1.6 percent in October, compared with the same month in 2011, according to Case-Shiller, which measures repeat sales and is largely considered the best marker of the housing industry.

“It is clear that the housing recovery is gaining strength,’’ said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

This good news comes despite uncertainty over the socalled fiscal cliff and possible changes in the mortgage interest deduction, which provides thousands of dollars in annual savings to many mortgage holders.

There are still many unknowns that could turn the market around.

However, Eric Belsky, managing director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, said he foresees a strong spring season, propelled by tight inventory and low mortgage rates. He also expects markets outside of Boston to strengthen.

It feels like a housing market that has now switched into the mode of helping drive a recovery,” Belsky said.

Meanwhile, the condo market appears to be even stronger. The number of condos sold in November, 1,635, was 33 percent above the number a year earlier, according to the Warren Group. Year-to-date condo sales rose 27 percent, compared with a year earlier.

Prices are up, too. The median condo sales price was $275,000 in November, more than 7 percent higher than a year earlier.

Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said the condo market is thriving because young people and baby boomers are increasingly interested in living in the city, with all its amenities. “Urban living is gaining ground,” he said.

Both condos and single-family homes are selling faster this year, too. And so the supply of available properties is tightening: The number of single-family homes on the market last month was 25.9 percent fewer than in November 2011, with similar declines in the condo market.

Mary O’ Donaghue, president of the the Northeast Association of Realtors, said she expects that improving consumer confidence, low interest rates, and tight inventory will keep housing moving in the spring.

We are entering a spring market with close to ideal conditions,” she said.


Boston’s Fiscal (Listing) Cliff

Great post from Curbed Boston Blog!

Here is the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by broker David Bates that drills down into the Hub’s housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. This week, David looks at the effects of Boston’s absurdly low condo inventory on the city

Boston%20Inventory%20as%20of%2012-12.jpgMcDonald’s would never run out of hamburgers.

Amazon would never run out of books.

But could Greater Boston run out of reasonably priced condos?

Currently, the city’s on-market condominium inventory is scary low. It’s so low that if we were using actively marketed Boston condos as gas for our car, we might not make it to the closest station to fill up. A year ago, Boston had nearly twice as many condos on the market as it does today. Brookline had two-and-a-half times its current condo selection and South Boston was marketing more than three times the 46 condos currently being marketed. Put simply: Regardless of price, there are very few condos available to buy in Boston; and, when demand is high and supply is low, prices go up.

You might not realize how the pricing menu of Greater Boston condos has changed in just a year. A year ago (12/12/11), the median list price of an on-market condo in the South End was $575K. Today, the median is $749K. Which is more incredible: the $174K increase or the fact that 02118 now has a 90210 median list price?

In Greater Boston, rising median list prices are not relegated to the South End. Brookline’s median list price for on-market condos is $202K higher than it was a year ago, up from $538K to $740K. And a year ago in Back Bay, the median list price for on-market condos was a cool million—today it is a cool $1.47 million. That new median might get Robin Leach excited, but if you’re looking for modestly priced Boston condos to buy, it’s an indication you just might have a better chance of seeing the Jets win the Super Bowl this year.

When Boston housing prices spiraled out of control between 2001 and 2005, the Boston Foundation’s Housing Report Card stated that it contributed to 60,000 more people leaving the Hub than coming to it, many of them in the 20- to 34-year-old age demographic. FYI, back in 2005, when there was no marketing of condos after they had technically found buyers, the city had five times the amount of condos on the market as it does today and the median listing price of the on-market inventory was $390K. Today the median list price of Boston’s on-market available-to-purchase inventory is $483K, which provokes the request: Would the last hipster to leave the Hub please take the titanium spork with him?

architecture general info style

Provincetown Contrasts

December is a month of contrasts here in Provincetown. On one hand the streets are uncrowded, morning walks with the pooch can be totally solitary, yet evenings out for dinner at The Mews or Jimmy’s can be packed and boisterous.

The stores and homes are decorated for the holidays, including our sweet Beachfront Realty office done up for the Holidays with garland, lights, wreathes and ribbon. Next door The Adam Peck gallery is decorated to look like a ginger bread house. (Pictures to come)








Other contrasts are of the physical type.  Take a look at these pictures of Commercial Street  taken Friday….watching weekday strollers and locals walking downtown during the reconstruction of Commercial Street is like looking going back to the 1800″s. Not a motor vehicle in sight. The reconstruction of Commercial Street has become quite a fall/winter event. The street has been dug up, a thick layer of heavy gravel has been put down, and a temporary layer of asphalt over that…all to be finished this spring.






Then you drive out to Province Landing and you see this vision of modernity…This home is rising from the sand on Lot #2 at the development. (More on this in a future post)










….and of course the beauty that is the Moors on a gorgeous late fall day.









analytics general info

Cape Bargains?

Below is an interesting post by Scott Van Voorhis contrasting sales and price performance in different towns on the Cape, as many towns are experiencing sales increases but with price decreases. Provincetown is experiencing a more positive cycle of price and sales increases. Through November 30 as per Cape Cod MLS the average sale price of a single family home in Provincetown was $827K a 5% increase with a median price of $762K. 46 single family properties have sold year to date, an increase of 45% over 2011 year to date.

Through November 30, the average sale price of condominiums in Provincetown was $413K, an increase of 10% year to date with a median price of $399K.  149 condos have sold year to date an increase of 49%.

See Scott’s post below.

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis
If you are looking for a second home, there may be bargains to be had right now on the Cape.

Sales are up big time across the sandy spit, even as median prices fall in the Mid-Cape towns of Chatham, Harwich, Orleans, according to data from The Warren Group.

Chatham saw the biggest price decline, falling more than 14 percent, year-to-date, at the end of October to $550,000, while Orleans fell 3.7 percent, to $505,000, and Harwich slid 1.1 percent to $335,500.

Heading farther out towards Provincetown, Wellfleet prices dropped 5.7 percent to $511,250.

Other towns on or close to the Cape Cod Canal are also seeing prices fall. Sandwich is down 6 percent to $280,000, Mashpee fell 7 percent to $310,000, while Bourne saw a 5.8 percent decline to $251,500.

Venturing off Cape to the islands, Nantucket prices fell 9.1 percent to an ultra-affordable median of $1,090,000.

The Outer Cape appears to be bucking the trends, with Provincetown posting a 16 percent rise, to $680,000.

Brewster and Dennis also posted price increases as well.

Of course, there is the whole issue of rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather – Cape living may not be a picnic in years to come. It’s an area already poorly served by the power companies and prone to outages.

The cost of insuring a home on the Cape is also soaring.

Still, I say go for it. But beware of beachfront bargains!


analytics general info

Massachusetts Tops In Listing Prices, Provincetown Is Higher!

Scott always has good posts. This one is surprising showing MA is #1, (in the continental US) or #2 in  the whole USA when it comes to the average listing price for single family homes. To put that in context, Provincetown’s average singe family listing price today is $1.378M, more than twice the state average.

High listing Prices? Massachusetts has them beat!

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

Basically, the good old Bay State is No. 1 in the continental U.S. when it comes to the listing price of a typical four-bedroom, two-bath suburban home, Coldwell Banker finds in a new survey.

The average listing price here is pushing half a million at $489,063 for your basic subdivision home. That’s far above the national average, which weighs in at $292,152.

Now to be clear here, Hawaii ($742,551) actually has the highest listing price for the entire country, but given the obvious land constraints of the island state, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges.

Interestingly, Massachusetts listing prices even beat out California ($431,625), New Jersey ($425,625) and Connecticut ($411,884), which has the hedge fund capital of the world in Stamford.

We also have more than are our share of spots in the top 100 when listing prices for two-bedroom, two-bath homes are broken down by individual towns and cities.

With an average listing price of $1.1 million for a two-bedroom, two-bath home, Weston ranks No. 14 in the country. But Los Altos in Silicon Valley has anything in Massachusetts beat, with an average listing price of $1.7 million.

So what’s happening here? We are heading into our third decade here in Massachusetts of anemic construction of suburban, single-family homes, with no change in sight.

In fact, Gov. Deval Patrick’s belated proposal to tackle the growing mismatch between supply and demand in the Bay State housing market focuses almost exclusively on construction of apartments, townhomes and condos.

The problem is well-paid professionals who relocate here to take jobs in our growing biotech and high-tech fields aren’t selling their spacious 4,000-square-foot colonials in Texas and North Carolina and saying gee, can’t wait to move into a tiny 1,100-square-foot condo next to a train station up in Massachusetts.

Instead they are bidding up whatever available suburban homes they can find within the 495 beltway, and, if they have the bucks, paying for teardowns in which new, outsized homes replace old capes and ranches in Concord, Wellesley, Hingham and other upscale suburbs.

OK, your turn on the soap box. What’s your take?


general info

Real Estate Recovery Sounds Familiar

Steven Syres Boston Globe column this morning provides a terrific real estate review for 2012. Conditions vary in Boston’s downtown neighborhoods as well as Cape Cod towns, but his basic points are spot on.

Stevens Column follows.


The story of this year’s economy is told in a mountain of statistics. Some of the most interesting numbers measure the condition of residential real estate markets.

Those markets, the epicenter of our economic woes of the past five years, are obviously important. Thankfully, the news about home sales — both locally and across the country — has turned out to be one of the most upbeat economic developments of the year.

The combination of pent-up demand, relatively low home prices, and incredibly cheap mortgage rates has become a powerful market force. Residential real estate activity is expected to account for more than half of the nation’s admittedly weak economic growth over the final three months of this year, according to Pat Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington.

The housing market still has a long way to go, but the economic benefits are spreading beyond homeowners to builders, bankers, and even makers of household appliances.

So where do we go from here? There is no single answer that applies to all markets across the country, but real estate activity around Massachusetts this year offers an interesting hint about our local future.

Trace 2012 home sales in Massachusetts and the pattern starts to look a lot like the state’s residential market as it began to recover from the local real estate depression of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The good news: That recovery stuck. The bad news: It took seven years from that point for home prices to recover.

Sales volume is rising more than 20 percent this year, and the statewide inventory of homes has fallen sharply. But median prices have remained completely flat or increased very modestly, depending on whose reports you read.

In most economic markets, rising sales and falling inventories usually put pressure on prices. Oddly, that’s not happening to residential real estate in Massachusetts so far.

And it didn’t happen here 20 years ago, either.

“We had exactly the same thing back in the ’90s,” said Tim Warren, chief executive of Warren Group in Boston. “We had two years of increasing sales volume before median prices started to edge up.”

I take some comfort in that echo. Otherwise, I’d worry that the failure of home prices to rise under current conditions signals another stall ahead. The experience of two decades past suggests that’s not necessarily so. In fact, it may be a normal part of a long, difficult recovery.

So what’s actually happening right now? I asked a variety of real estate experts and most pointed to potential sellers who remain reluctant to list their homes at current prices. The inventory of motivated sellers — pressed by the threat of foreclosure and a hundred other factors — has met much of the demand this year. But that supply of homes for sale is getting short.

Statewide inventory amounted to 8.9 months of supply in October of last year, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. That figure has fallen more than 43 percent to 5.1 months this October, and that’s reason to worry.

“If we don’t have more inventory to put out there, buyers who really want to buy won’t,” said Trisha McCarthy, president of the realtors association.

No doubt you’ve heard stories about homes getting snapped up in no time, often for more than listed prices. That reflects a thin inventory of attractive properties current owners are reluctant to put on the market.

McCarthy recently led a routine conference call among association leaders spread across the state and she said 14 of 16 expressed concern about the inventory available for sale in their local markets. “Most of them used the word ‘fragile’,” she said.

There are other, big-picture reasons to fret about the real estate recovery, above and beyond inventory issues. Wellesley College economist Chip Case did not sound very optimistic the other day.

“I think school is still out about whether people believe home ownership is a good idea anymore,” he told me. “There are just a lot of reasons to be cautious.”

With the consequences of the last housing bubble, caution is good advice. But the Massachusetts real estate recovery of 2012 looks a lot like our rocky road out of the collapse of the 1990s.

That’s good news for buyers and owners with patience.