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Boston – Area Home Values 7.5% Higher In June

Great article from Jenifer in this mornings Globe.

By Jenifer B. McKim

JULY 31, 2013

With nearly a year’s worth of rising prices now in the books, local housing values have rebounded to within about 11.3 percent of their last peak, in September 2005, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which tracks repeat home sales around the United States and is largely considered one of the best marker’s of the nation’s health.

David Blitzer, managing director of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said if the rebound sustains its current pace, Boston-area home values will likely be back to record high levels within two years.

“Home prices continue to strengthen,’’ Blitzer said. “The economy is clearly getting better.”

The latest values reflect increased buyer demand and low inventory, which is prompting fierce bidding wars in especially desirable neighborhoods. Case-Shiller defines the Boston-area as Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk counties, and the New Hampshire counties of Rockingham and Strafford.

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Nationwide, home values ballooned even more in May — gaining 12.2 percent compared with the same month last year, according to Case-Shiller’s report on 20 metro regions across the United States. Nationwide, however, prices are still about 24.4 percent off their historic highs, Case-Shiller reported.

Blitzer said it will probably take about three more years for housing to recover all the way nationwide — at least a year longer than in Massachusetts. “The [US] cities that went up the most came down the most,’’ he said.

As home prices escalate, foreclosures in Massachusetts and around the country are slowing, another set of data released Tuesday showed.

Statewide, foreclosure starts dropped to 245 in June, 84 percent fewer than during the same period last year, according to the Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate.

That was the lowest number of foreclosure petitions filed for any month since the Warren Group started tracking home takings in 2006, the company said. Between January and June, 2,943 foreclosures were initiated, nearly 69 percent fewer than the first six months of last year.

Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of the Warren Group, said rising home prices are helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by allowing them to sell their properties with money to spare or to win loan modifications from lenders. “Higher home values make more solutions possible,’’ Warren said.

Foreclosure deeds, which mark the last step in the property seizure process, dropped to 329 in June, 56 percent fewer than during the same time in 2012, the Warren Group said. Between January and June, there were 1,575 completed foreclosures, about a 67 percent drop compared with last year.

Property seizures also are falling nationwide. There were 55,000 completed foreclosures in the United States in June, a near 20 percent drop compared with June 2012, according to CoreLogic, a national data tracker based in California.

“The housing market is clearly on the mend,” said Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic’s chief executive. “But we expect the ultimate conclusion of the present housing cycle to be another several years away.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at [email protected].

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Mortgage Rates Ease


Mortgage Rates Ease for Second Straight Week

  Jul 25, 2013
  By: ,
Average rates on fixed mortgages trended downward for the second consecutive week.

The decline comes after rates spiked dramatically over the past month over worries the Federal Reserve would curb its bond-purchase program – giant stimulus policies involving $85 million worth of Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities that have helped spur growth in a recovering housing market.

Three weeks removed from hitting a two-year high, the average rate on a 30-year fixed eased to 4.31 percent, down 0.08 percentage point from 4.37 a week ago, according to the latest survey by mortgage lender Freddie Mac. The 30-year fixed loan neared a historic low as recently as early May before spiking to 4.46 percent in the last week of June. It was at 3.49 percent at this time one year ago.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage saw its own decline, albeit a slight one. Previously trending at 3.41 percent, the average on a 15-year fixed loan fell by 0.02 percentage point to 3.39 percent this week. It previously achieved a historic low in early May, when it fell to 2.56 percent. A year ago, the average rate on a 15-year fixed was 2.8 percent.

In a statement, Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said the relief “should help to alleviate market concerns of a slowdown in the housing market.”

Thus far, existing home sales for June were the second highest since November 2009 and new home sales were the strongest since May 2008,” Nothaft continued. “In addition, the low inventories of homes for purchase are putting upward pressure on house prices.”

The positive signs from June sales bode well for the housing market moving forward, especially after it weathered its first significant spike in key mortgage rates.

The average rate on a 5-year hybrid adjustable loan fell slightly from 3.17 percent a week ago to 3.16 percent. After holding firm at 2.66 percent for four consecutive weeks, the average on a 1-year hybrid adjustable loan dropped by 0.01 percentage point this week to 2.56 percent.

Although mortgage loans remain historically low, home buyers and home owners looking to refinance may want to act quickly to lock in affordable rates. In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by, 91 percent of the mortgage analysts and experts polled believe average loans will trend upward or remain unchanged over the next week.

“Rates have moved significantly higher in the last five weeks,” says Academy Mortgage branch manager Derek Egeberg. “There is greater risk of continued moves higher than potential of a market move lower. Advice is to lock if you are a buyer with a property under contract.”


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Telegraph Hill Activity

Telegraph Hill is a gorgeous community of large single family homes on the highest hill in Provincetown.  I recently posted about 2 properties going under contract on the Hill. Both have now closed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA9 Telegraph Hill sold for $2M last week.

MLS description: Nestled atop the highest point in Provincetown this gorgeous 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home is privately sited in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, an exclusive cul-de-sac with eight architect designed single family homes. Entering into the 30 foot long sunlit gallery you are drawn to the expansive walls of glass with water views in every direction. The home offers a warm inviting presence as you enter into the sunken living room with it’s fieldstone fireplace and over-sized buffet that leads into the spacious dining room. The chef’s kitchen has high end appliances, a pantry and breakfast nook. The entire 2nd floor is the master suite with rich wood paneling, fireplace, sumptuous master bath and twin walk in closets. Extras include radiant heat floors, lots of storage and an extra large two car garage.



21304104_038 Telegraph Hill sold for $2.895M two weeks ago.

MLS description. This is the best view on Telegraph Hill. Custom built in 2002 this home home offers panoramic views of Provincetown Harbor,the shores of Truro & Wellfleet, west end rooftops of Provincetown & a stunning view of the Monument. Meticulously maintained, well appointed w/hardwood floors, custom Hunter Douglas blinds, marble & limestone baths, commercial grade Viking appliances, double fireplace, high ceilings w/custom lighting, central ac, mature gardens, irrigation system & a 2 car garage. The upside down design gives you living and dining space on the top floor w/an open floor plan, along with a wrap around deck for outside entertaining. The entry level has 3 large bedrooms including two master suites, all with en-suite baths. Lower level offers a finished room, laundry room & 2 car garage. Granite block driveway.


7 Telegraph Hill $2.895M…..and 7 Telegraph Hill just came on the market at an asking price of $2.895M.

Built in 2006, this reverse design home offers both privacy and views of Hatches Harbor, the Atlantic Ocean and Seashore. Meticulous attention was paid to every detail, including custom carpentry & cabinetry, top-of-the line appliances, polished concrete countertops, & a 10 ft. high wall of glass showcasing the extraordinary view. The dramatic open floor plan includes a large dining alcove, a fireplace, and atmospheric lighting throughout. The master suite is very spacious with high ceilings, a large walk in closet with custom built ins, and a marble master bath. The 2 guest suites each have en-suite baths & sliders out to private decks. There is also a den, 2-car garage, excellent basement storage and multiple decks.

This is an amazing amount of activity in the high end as only 8 properties have sold over $2M in the last 2 years. Four of these homes are waterfront properties on Commercial Street and the other four are on Telegraph Hill.



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Boston Prices Soar

Interesting fact from Trulia that Scott reported on

Boston proces soar while the suburbs lag.

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis,

Home and condo prices in Greater Boston’s suburbs rose a solid 6.1 percent over the first five months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, real estate portal Trulia reports.

But Boston home and condo prices blew that number away, rising 10.1 percent during the same period.

While price increases in the cities are outpacing the suburbs around the country, Boston is in a league of its own, right along with New York, where prices are also on a tear.

“The difference makes it among the biggest gaps in the country,” Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist, commented in an email.

Yet despite or maybe because of the rising city prices, the suburbs are seeing markedly faster population growth.

While urban areas saw their overall population rise by .36 percent, the suburbs grew much faster, by .56 percent, Trulia reports.

Leading the upward charge in prices are “high-rise neighborhoods,” as well as ethnically diverse neighborhood and zip codes with a significant percentage of same sex couples.

Needless to say, such diversity is for the most part the monopoly of urban areas right now – a pattern particularly evident in Greater Boston. Our suburbs, for the most part, are the opposite of diverse.

Neighborhoods where no particular ethnic or racial group makes up the majority saw prices rise 14.3 percent. And in neighborhoods where same-sex couples account for more than 1 percent, prices rose a staggering 16.5 percent.

It does make you wonder whether the cities and suburbs are getting ready to change places now, with rising urban prices pushing anyone who can’t afford elevated prices and rents into the suburbs.


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Boston Condo Prices At Record High


Jenifer’s article today in the Globe…WOW!

Luxury units help push Boston condo prices to record

Low inventory likely to remain a factor

By Jenifer B. McKim

|  GLOBE STAFF  JULY 23, 2013

Condominium prices in Boston’s downtown market jumped to a record high in the second quarter of the year, driven by strong demand, tight inventories, and a taste for luxury, according to data to be released Tuesday.

The median price for a condo in Boston’s central neighborhoods increased to $537,950 in the three-month period that ended in June, a 5.3 percent increase from same period a year ago, according to LINK, a Boston company that tracks condo sales in a 12-neighborhood area, including the Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

That beat the previous record of $537,000 during the first quarter of 2013, according to LINK, which has been tracking local condo data since 1993.

Strong sales of luxury condos, which include services like a valet and concierge, helped push the citywide median value — the midway point between the lowest and highest sale prices — to the record. The median price of a luxury condo jumped to $1.4 million from $1.24 million in the second quarter of 2012, a more than 13 percent increase.

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Sales of luxury condos increased by 2.4 percent between April and June, according to LINK.

“We are zooming right ahead,’’ said John Ranco, a senior sales associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate LLC in the South End. Ranco said buyers “are out there in force. It is just the matter of finding the right property.”

That hasn’t been easy for many house hunters. As in the broader Massachusetts real estate market, listings have shrunk as more buyers come into the market, according to LINK, which tracks condos in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Charlestown, the Fenway, the Leather District, Midtown, the North End, the Seaport, South Boston, the South End, the Waterfront, and the West End.

Inventory for condos in these neighborhoods dropped in June to 328 units from 531 a year ago, a 38.2 percent drop.

The shortage of properties on the market contributed to the slight decline in overall condo sales, which fell 1.2 percent from the second quarter of 2012, according to LINK.

Kevin Ahearn, president of the Boston-based residential brokerage firm, Otis & Ahearn Inc., said he expects tight inventory will keep pushing prices in the city’s downtown market for years. There are very few new listings, he said.

“We are seeing the front end of a very big move up in pricing,” he said.

Home values throughout the Boston area are on the rise. Median sales prices for condos in Greater Boston — considered roughly the region within the Interstate 495 loop — rose to a record $422,000 in June, a 5.5 percent increase from the $400,000 value during the same month last year, according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, which released data Monday.

Single-family homes also rose to a record $541,500 in June, a 7.8 percent increase from the same time last year, the association said.

Within the city of Boston, areas like South Boston and Charlestown — neighborhoods with relatively lower costs — have experienced some of the biggest jumps in condo values over the last several months as buyers are unable to find or afford properties in other downtown neighborhoods, said Debra Blair, president of LINK.

“It will be another three to five years before we have inventory,’’ she said. “That will keep pressure on prices going up.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter@jbmckim.

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Inventory Shortage Eases

Good national perspective on inventory levels from Teke at

Inventory shortages ease data shows 4.3 percent growth in listings from May to June
Teke Wiggin

Teke Wiggin Staff Writer

Inventory shortages that constrained home sales this spring are beginning to ease, with the number of homes listed for sale trending upwards in June, according to data, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The total number of listings rose by 4.3 percent from May to June, to 1.9 million homes. While that’s down by 7.3 percent from the same time a year ago, inventory was off 18.6 percent year over year in February, the newspaper said.

Real estate industry observers have speculated that home price gains might spur more homeowners to put their properties up for sale — and for builders to break ground on more new homes.

With the latest CoreLogic Home Price index showing a 12.2 percent year-over-year gain in home prices in May, the recent uptick in listings — though bolstered by a normal seasonal increase — suggests that these market reactions may be starting to play out.

“No one wants to sell at the bottom, but prices have now been rising for more than a year and by more than 30 percent in some markets — triggering some homeowners to lock in those gains, including those who have been underwater,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at listing portal Trulia.

But while home value appreciation may be coaxing some to sell, National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement last month that growth in home supply will primarily depend on an increase in construction.

“The housing numbers are overwhelmingly positive,” Yun said about May home sales, which NAR said hit their highest level since November 2009. “However, the number of available homes is unlikely to grow, despite a nice gain in May, unless new home construction ramps up quickly by an additional 50 percent. The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth.”

A recovery in construction activity is already beginning to take hold, Kolko noted.

“Even though inventory peaks in the summer and drops off later in the year, buyers should have more to choose from next spring and summer than they had this year,” he said.

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Goode and Farmer Report – Boston July 2013

 Condos are selling 46% faster than last year and there are 38% less available for sale.

Jon photo 2There are two big numbers that stand out when looking at Boston condo sales through the 2nd quarter. In all Boston neighborhoods combined, days on market have decreased an average 46% in 2013. The number of available condos for sale has decreased 38% to 693 properties for sale from 1,123 at this time last year…and these figures are down from very low 2012 numbers! Condos are selling 46% faster than last year and there are 38% less available for sale.  How’s that for a volatile dynamic.


All Boston neighborhoods combined saw a 9% increase in the average sales price of condos to $605K from $553K last year. The total number of condos sold was flat at 2,007 units vs. 2,034 units. This real estate market remains relatively healthy but the continuing decrease in inventory levels is beginning to affect the number of sales.

The Back Bay, saw a 13% increase in average sales price to $1.309M but a 19% decrease in sales from 248 in 2012 to 202 this year. The inventory of available condos for sale dropped 36% to 101 units.

The South End saw a 15% increase in the average sales price to $791K from $691K in 2012, but a 4% decrease in the number of sales to 268.  Inventory of condos for sale decreased a whopping 47% to 57 from 107 last year. This will continue to be a factor in market performance going forward.

South Boston saw the largest decrease in inventory in downtown Boston. Available condos for sale dropped 53% to 46 from 98 available for sale last year. The average sales price of a condo increased by 10% to $452K from $410K last year. The number of sales dropped 1% to 245 vs 249.

Inventory remains the problem, but this market is so resilient and so desirable that declining inventory levels are just now beginning to impact sales. We will keep an eye on the very important fall market to see where this trend takes us.


Boston Q2 2013

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Goode and Farmer Report – Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet July 2013

Provincetown year-to-date sales moderated somewhat from a robust 2012 first half as a shortage of properties for sale and a harsh winter kept buyers on the sidelines. Recently the market ticked up markedly as the weather improved.

Condominium sales slowed by 27% from 69 units last year to 50 this year, although a sluggish 16 sales in 1Q more than doubled in 2Q to 34. The average sales price of condos sold stayed relatively flat at $390K – a 2% decrease from $400K last year. Days on market for condominiums sold decreased by 8%; further illustrating the lack of inventory.

Single-family properties performed well with a 24% increase in the average sale price from $731K in 2012 to $905K year-to-date. The median sales price increased 28% to $867K from last years $675K – 22 have sold so far this year against 27 last year. Total sales volume was up 1% to $19.7M.

The average days on market has decreased in both categories driven by less inventory available for sale and relatively strong demand. For condos, it decreased 8% from 214 to 197 and for single-family properties, DOM decreased 22% from 253 to 197. Properties are selling faster as there are fewer on the market and demand remains very high.

Speaking of inventory, currently there are 110 condos on the market with an average listing price of $470K and an average price per square foot (ppsf) of $557. There are 54 single-family properties on the market with an average listing price of $1.411M and an average ppsf of $558.

The market has heated up in the past several weeks with several properties going under contract. The most interesting development is that two, $2M+ houses on Telegraph Hill went under contract in the past few weeks. The number of properties going U/A has increased noticeably. It has turned into summer overnight and the fourth of July has come and gone. The season is in full swing!

Ptown 2Q 2013











Other towns on the Outer Cape have experienced a similar dynamic. The number of single-family home sales in Truro was down 13% to 26 units from 30 in 2012. The average sales price was down 18% to $607K from $737K last year.

The Truro market consists mostly of single-family homes. There are currently 72 single-family properties available to chose from.

In Wellfleet, the single-family market performed better than last year with a 4% increase in the average sales prices to $556K from last year’s $533K. The number of sales was the same as in 2012 at 32 properties sold. The current 93 single-family homes available for sale offer many choices for buyers.

Truro 2Q 2013












There is generally positive news on the outer Cape in both single-family homes and condominiums. A strong second-home market on the Cape is an indication of an improving economy and of improving consumer confidence. These buyer and seller attitudes and still relatively low interest rates are signaling a very strong second half for outer Cape real estate.

Please call or stop in if you are considering selling or if you are just curious as to what your home is worth. If you are considering buying a home, remember that our business philosophy is that the best-informed buyers are the happiest and it is what we do best.


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Rising Mortgage Rates And The Housing Recovery

 My favorite Mike Simonsen of Altos Research on rising mortgage rates. 

How Much Risk are Rising Mortgage Rates to the Housing Recovery

A recovery created purely by government largess is no recovery at all.

That’s the strongest argument that our universally hot housing market is ephemeral. It’s true that the hot housing market is due in large part to federal government policy aimed at stimulating and rewarding housing demand. It’s generally a far better deal to own than to rent and the US Government likes it that way.

No place is policy more obvious than in the mortgage markets. By buying mortgages by the truckload since late 2008, the Fed has suppressed rates to ridiculously low levels. I’ve said this before, 3.4% guaranteed for 30 years? I wouldn’t give myself that loan. But this trend can’t last forever, and over the last few weeks, mortgage rates are on the rise. What happens next?

Mortgage Rates as of 2013
Average interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgage, primary residence, across 20 major US metros. Source: Altos Research

Surely this is bad news, right?

Despite recent moves, mortgages are still insanely cheap. See the above chart for the Altos Research mortgage rate monitor.

Slight moves in rates impact the re-finance application rate instantly. Refinancers are hyper-sensitive to rate moves.

For real estate purchases, consider this analysis by Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports. Rising rates cuts into purchasing power. We’ve had a 25 basis point move in rates in May. It’s a sharp move.  For some people, that will mean a 4% lower priced home. A full 100 basis point increase in rates translates into 10.75% less purchasing power.

This is all bad, right? For home prices in 2013, I’m going to argue “No.” Last week, while refinance applications fell by 12%, new purchase applications actually rose3%. The low-but-rising mortgage rate scenario results in a rush to get in while the getting is good. All of the bullish factors in today’s roaring housing market are still in full effect, so demand is strong.

Mortgage purchasing power
Home price affordability falls as mortgage rates climb. Source: The Mortgage Reports

Rising Rates to Accelerate the Housing Price Surge in 2013

A surprisingly large proportion of buyers in this housing market are all-cash buyers. They’re in the market because homes are cheap, relative to the alternative, prices and rents are rising. Real estate is an attractive place to put your cash this year. This demand cohort is unaffected by rate moves.

Low-but-rising rates actually stimulates demand for people who had not yet seriously committed to buying a home. Because we’re in a supply-constrained market, this extra demand goes right to the prices of the homes available for sale.

To track this scenario, we’ll watch supply and demand levels after June 30.  That’s the day that inventory typically peaks across the country and, for the second half of the year, the inventory is absorbed with fewer and fewer new homes listed for sale, until January 15 of the following year when everything resets.

If rates climb sharply through the end of the year, then continued price recovery in 2014 will be at risk. As of 2013, consider this yet another stimulus spike. We’ll see those leading indicators emerge in 3Q and 4Q of 2013. Altos clients see this data in real-time. Casual readers will have to wait until I get around to writing a blog post.


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2 Telegraph Hill Homes Under Contract.

Two beautiful houses atop  Telegraph  Hill have gone under contract in the last few weeks. Both have asking prices over $2M.  In the last 2 years only 5 properties have sold in Provincetown with prices over $2M. Four were on the water on Commercial Street and the other was on Telegraph Hill

9 Telegraph Hill which we have been marketing with an asking price of $2.295M is under contract. This is one of the most perfectly sited homes on the hill, hardly visible from the street and with expansive water views from most rooms. The house has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, an incredibly large open living area with a giant fieldstone fireplace and a deck running the full length of the back of the house. The rear of the house is all glass and deck.


9 Telegraph living telescope  9 Telegraph Hill. List price $2.295M Pending.  9 Telegraph master bedroom 1


8 Telegraph Hill sits atop the Hill at its eastern tip with arguably the best views on the hill.  This is a 3 bedroom, 4 bath home of 3,510 square feet that has a listing price of $3.195M.  This property went under contract a few weeks ago and is being marketed by our good friends at Atlantic Bay Sothebys.









Pretty heady stuff for the Provincetown market to have two similar and $2M+ properties sell in the same few weeks. And while these two properties are not representative of the entire market they do represent renewed interest and activity in this segment of the market.