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10 Most “Out Of Touch” Housing Markets

On the face of it this headline is dramatic, but all it refers to is the conforming loan limits throughout the U.S and their relationship to local market conditions. A very interesting perspective from Housing Wire and Trulia.

Trulia: 10 most out-of-touch housing markets

The vast divide in conforming loan limits and reality

April 28

As the whispers of housing reform start to grow into greater fruition, the topic of conforming loan limits is brought up as well.

In his latest blog, Jed Kolko, chief economist with Trulia, noted that the current system of conforming loan limits falls far short of reflecting the actual differences in local home prices and ends up favoring borrowers in lower-cost markets.

“The housing finance system – as well as other national housing policies – needs to serve a country where local home prices in some markets are 10 times as high as in others, and where local and state laws affect how much new construction is allowed, how long foreclosures take, and more,” Kolko said.

In the current system, the conforming system sits at $417,000. However, in 2008, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act granted “high cost area” higher conforming loans limits to reflect local price differences.

But as housing regulators markup the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform bill on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, Kolko pointed just how the conforming loan limits fall short.

Using Trulia’s database of homes for sale, Kolko listed the top 10 housing markets with the highest share of for-sale homes above the local loan limit, showing just how out of touch conforming loan limits are.  

10. Boston, Mass.

Currently,  $470,350 is the conforming loan limit, while 30% of homes for sale are above the local loan limit.


9. Oakland, Calif.

Right now 30% of homes for sale are above the local loan limit, with the conforming loan limit sitting at $625,500.

8. New York, N.Y.

The conforming loan limit sits at $625,500 for New York, with 30% of homes for sale above the local loan limit.


7. Middlesex County, Mass.

The city’s conforming loan limit weighs in at $470,350, with 33% of homes for sale above the local loan limit.

6. San Diego, Calif.

So far, the city’s conforming loan limit is  $546,250, with 33% of the homes for sale above the local loan limit.

5. Ventura County, Calif.

The conforming loan limited is $598,000, with 34% of the homes for sale above the local loan limit.

4. Orange County, Calif.

Orange County has a conforming loan limit of $625,500, with 38% of the homes for sale above the local loan limit.

3. Fairfield County, Calif.  

In Fairfield County, the conforming loan limit is $601,450, and 39% of homes for sale are above the local loan limit.

2. San Jose, Calif.

This city posted a $625,500 conforming loan limit, with 43% of the homes for sale above the local loan limit.


1. San Francisco, Calif.

San Francisco posted that its conforming loan limit sits at $625,500. With a whopping 61% of the homes for sale above the local loan limit, it is the nation’s most out-of-touch housing market.


Brena Swanson joined the HousingWire news team in February 2013. Prior to serving HW in the role as Reporter and Content Specialist, Brena attended Evangel University in Springfield, MO.
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Will Success Ruin Boston?

Another interesting post by Scott.

Will success ruin Greater Boston?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

Boston is one of those hot cities increasingly favored by the global business elite.

It’s easy to gaze at all the posh new apartment and condo towers on the city’s skyline and wonder who can afford to live there, but the wealthy buyers just keep on coming, whether from the suburbs or from any number of distant lands.

We’ve got the best colleges and universities, one of the biggest concentrations of bio-tech and life science companies and talent in the world, and a thriving tech sector.

But success can come sometimes with a hefty price-tag, and rising real estate prices tops the list.

Writes Bynxers, a regular contributor to the comment board of this blog:

Eventually- the city will drown in its own success. Is it the natural evolution of a successful city? That only the wealthy can afford to reside there, and to “promote equality” affordable housing is put in place for those needing government subsidy, while no help or policy is put in place to assist the working class, middle class or even upper-middle class??

Right on, Bynxers. Too much success, unless treated properly, can prove to be a fatal disease.

The tendency is to keep on keeping on, despite diminishing and increasingly toxic returns.

Here’s more:

Hop in a plane and ride east for several hours to Europe or West to San Francisco. And behold, there you will see the future of Boston…..

Eventually- the city will drown in its own success. Is it the natural evolution of a successful city? That only the wealthy can afford to reside there, and to “promote equality” affordable housing is put in place for those needing government subsidy, while no help or policy is put in place to assist the working class, middle class or even upper-middle class??

Those original property owners are long gone: residents of Southie sold their triple deckers and now live on the South Shore…. Other neighborhoods have similar outcomes. Is this natural??? Is this the price of success???

I argue, in part, yes…. With a MAJOR “but” at the end….. Housing prices have been pushed up by artificial scarcity for years (atleast 20 or so). Not just in Boston- but eastern mass as a whole. Large lot requirements for single families, height restrictions and density restrictions…. its simple supply and demand. Now the city and state are just trying to catch up, but its too little too late.

There is no vindication at the end of this, no “gotcha” moment, no fairness, really. The middle class will have a choice: pay up or leave. There’s a constant new influx of young grads to fill the void for a while though and it will be a revolving door. Those born and raised here will likely stick it out. However, many will pack up and leave. The fate of the city and region at this point is more or less cast in stone, I’d assert.

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Pond Side Contemporary


46 Shank Painter Road is a gorgeous 12 year old contemporary cape with luxurious living on three levels – and it is a complete surprise! Entering into the house from the beautifully landscaped front entrance you are immediately struck by the view of Shank Painter Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. Most people don’t realize that this incredible pond view exists behind the house. This house literally sits on Shank Painter Pond and looks out on the most beautiful conservation land in town.


front of house 1


As you see the front of the house is a traditional full Cape with an extension that has it’s own entrance, and the back of the house is 3 full floors of glass sliders that take full advantage of the view – and this stunning house is only 2 blocks to Commercial Street!

The pictures below show the living room and dining room – the west and south walls are rough hewn stone, the floors are hardwood, and the view as you can see is delightful. There is a wood burning fireplace, a large full bath, and a den with doors out to a sheltered and private sunning or dining deck.


front of house 2

glass doors

living room








The dream chef’s kitchen has double Themador wall ovens, double stainless sinks, a subzero fridge, a 6 burner gas stove top, double trash compactors and beautiful marble and tiled full wall backsplash.


master br 1

master bath 1


deck view 2







The spacious master suite on the lower level has sliders out to the yard and pond beyond.  The large master bath has double sinks, a large glass enclosed shower, and the double size soaking tub with a view that you see below. In addition on this level there are double walk in closets,  a full size sauna, and a large laundry room with side by side W/D and extra storage. In the backyard, steps from the master bedroom is a large hot tub, and an outside shower.


upper suite

deck with chairs

back of house 2

46 rear view Shank Painter Pond







The second full floor suite is on the top floor of the house, and as you can see below has stunning views of the conservation land stretching out before you. This floor is a light and bright aerie and has been used by the owners as an artists studio. There is a combination master bath, and a charming  meditation room on this floor, as well as a private deck.

46 Shank Painter Road is being offered at $998,000.

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Listing Of The Week

49 Bradford Street #11, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, central A/C and parking. Offered at $485,000


















Centrally located in the near West End this free standing two bedroom , one bath condo is just steps from the Boatslip, Joes Coffee and the bay beaches.  The main level has an open floor plan with a living room, dining area and kitchen. There is also a full bath on this floor. The charming screened in porch adds another space for dining and entertaining. There are two bedrooms upstairs, one with a good size private deck. There is one parking space, exclusive use extra storage space, and a common laundry. There is exclusive use garden space in the front and on the side of the condo.


front door

kitchen 2

kitchen to living

bedroom 1







49 Bradford Street #11 has  678 square feet, condo fees of $316 per month which includes heat, and annual taxes of $3,038 for fiscal year 2014. Weekly rentals are allowed. Central A/C, Common laundry, Patio area for grilling, Assigned parking.



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Q1 Goode and Farmer Report Boston


The national real estate pundits are talking about the lack of available inventory and declining sales numbers. These first quarter results for downtown Boston condominium sales tell a different story. The average sales price for condos in downtown Boston neighborhoods increased 21%. Sale were up by 12%. Total sale volume was up by 35%.

The South End and Back Bay neighborhoods reflect the more  standard state of the real estate industry here in eastern MA. Prices are up because of buyer demand, but sales are down and volume is flat – the effect of the critically depressed inventory of available condos for sale.


Boston chart























South Boston is  standout neighborhood! Average sales price up 20%.  Sales up 41%. Volume up 71%…and interestingly enough the only neighborhood with an increase in days on market, a result of additional inventory.

The all important spring market will be very important in determining the state of the real estate market in Boston.

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Goode and Farmer Report – Provincetown, Truro and Wellfleet Q1 2014

While it is tough to identify trends in the first quarter – especially a quarter rocked nationally and locally by severe winter weather, local sales and prices are bucking the national trends that show moderating sales numbers. First quarter results here on the outer cape were surprisingly strong given the relentless winter weather.

The average price of condos sold in Provincetown was up 25%. Single-family prices were up 6%. And in Wellfleet, 48% more single-family properties sold than last year. Total sales in Provincetown were up 22% from 31 sales in the first quarter of 2013 to 38 sales in 2014. Total volume closed was up 33% from $18.5M to $24.7M this year.

There were 24 condominium sales in the first quarter vs. 16 last year, an increase of 50%. And total condo sales volume increased 87% to $11M. The average sale price for condominiums in Provincetown was up 25% to $460K from $368K in 2013. Average days on market for condos decreased by an average of 37. The average price per square foot for condos sold was $500, up from $410 psf in the 1st quarter of 2013.

The average sale price for a single-family home was up 6% to an average sale price of $1.086M from $1.02M in 2013. Single-family home sales in Provincetown decreased by 33% to 6 from 9. Many of us feel that this is a result of lower inventory and not a true indication of market strength.

Provincetown continues to lead the way on the outer Cape with higher prices and higher sales volume. It continues to attract international buyers and buyers from around the country who have visited over the years who now want to have a home here on the Outer Cape.

This market dynamic continues to build the case for a strong spring market. It remains an historically opportune time for those sellers who have been waiting on the sidelines to put their property on the market. This strong demand for Provincetown real estate by more confident buyers has proven itself in higher sales numbers. The snow is gone and temperatures are finally above 40. Let the spring market begin.


Provincetown Chart












Other towns on the Outer Cape did relatively well too. The average sales price for single-family properties in Truro was up 19% to $733K from $617K in 2013. The number of sales was down to 8 sales from 14 last year. The Truro market consists mostly of single-family homes.

In Wellfleet, the average sales price of single-family properties sold increased 2% to $521K from $510K last year. The number of sales increased by 44% to 13 from 9 in 2013. Wellfleet is predominantly a single-family sales market as well.


Trueo Wellfleet chart












While these numbers are relatively strong it is always difficult to identify trends in the first quarter The one constant in each town and each category is increasing prices, even with the weather and a shortage of inventory. This illustrates a very resilient market and strong buyer demand.

Buyers do need more choices though as inventory remains low. Positive buyer and seller attitudes coupled with a continuation of relatively low mortgage rates and an improving economy bode well for 2014 being a great year to jump into the market.

Please call or stop in if you are considering selling or buying, or if you are just curious as to what your home is worth. Our business philosophy has always been that the best-informed buyers and sellers are most satisfied with their real estate results. And that’s what we do best!


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Favorite Listing Of The Week

If there ever was a quintessential West End Cottage this is surely it. 12 Atwood Avenue #B, offered at $525,000 is a 696 square feet one bedroom cottage in the West End.


12 Atwood Ave #2








This charming wood frame cottage is set back from a private unpaved lane behind a honeysuckle covered white picket fence. This 696 square foot 1 bedroom 2 story cottage is the ultimate Provincetown retreat. The living room is at the front of the Cottage and has a large wood burning fireplace. There is a dining room/den next to the kitchen in the rear of the first floor. The entire second floor is a large bedroom and bath with large windows and wonderful sight lines to lovely Atwood Avenue.


living room 2

living room 3

kitchen 1








The Cottage at 12 Atwood Avenue has just been organized into an independent 2 unit condo complex. The Cottage has a large exclusive use garden area, parking and 696 square feet.


bedroom 2

garden 1

kitchen 2

garden umbrella







The Cottage is a rare offering providing charm and  privacy.  It is a block from the bay, a block from Victors Restaurant, and in an association crafted for independent living. Offered at $525,000.

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Condos Sizzle

Interesting post by Scott.

Condos party like it’s 1989


Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

Condos haven’t sizzled like this since the crazy condo boom of the 1980s.

OK, I took a little liberty with the headline. After all, by 1989 the great 80s condo boom had already started to go bust, but you get the point.

Condo prices are on a tear, rising 18.4 percent during the first two months of 2014 compared to last year, reports The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Even stranger still, condo prices have almost caught up with home values, which they traditionally lag by a considerable margin.

The median sale price for a condo in Massachusetts this February topped $281,000, just $4,000 below the median home price of $285,500, Warren Group numbers show.

So what’s going on here?

Well, for starters, the relentless decline in listings of homes for sale is doing more than just driving up Boston-area prices.

It also appears to be pushing some buyers into the condo market in search of affordable alternatives.

Of course, as more buyers switch to condos, that’s now having the unfortunate effect of driving up condo prices as well,

But we are also likely seeing the impact of empty-nesters moving into the condo market as well.

Remember all those Baby Boomers who wanted to downsize a few years ago, but couldn’t sell their homes? Well now they are finally making their move.

However, instead of buying another home, they are going condo

And, of course, let’s not forget all those luxury condos that are selling like hotcakes in downtown Boston – and skewing the median price upward.

“The 18.4 percent increase in condo median prices so far this year is an indicator that condominiums are increasingly popular and we have a strong mix of luxury condos in the sales totals,” said Tim Warren, chief executive of The Warren Group, in a statement.

Empty-nesters are ready for a change in lifestyle and have the net worth to take the plunge,” he said.


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3 Reasons The Market Will Thrive In 2014


Another great and succinct post by the KCM gang!

3 Reasons the Housing Market Should Thrive in 2014



Recently, HousingWire asked David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide, for his opinion on the near-term future of housing. Below are what Mr. Berson believes to be the three things you need to know about housing in 2014. We have included a quote from the article and a small comment from KCM for all three points.

Number 1: 2014 should prove to be the strongest year for housing activity since before the Great Recession

“Most economists expect an improved job market in 2014, with employment growth accelerating and the unemployment rate continuing to decline. That jobless rate drop will reflect more of a pickup in employment than further declines in the labor force participation rate. This will be the key factor improving housing demand this year, even if mortgage rates rise and affordability declines. While the housing market tends to do especially well when the job market improves and mortgage rates decline simultaneously, that combination of events occurs only rarely…People buy homes when their job and income prospects improve – even if it’s more expensive to do so – rather than buy when it is inexpensive to do so but they’re worried about keeping their jobs.”

KCM Comment:

We agree that the job market will continue to improve and that rising interest rates will not be a detriment to the market in 2014. As Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist atFannie Mae, recently revealed:

“Consumers have taken the interest rate rise in stride. Expectations for continued improvement in housing persist, and sentiment toward the current buying and selling environment is back on track.”

Number 2: Demographics should start to favor housing activity

“If the economy expands at a faster pace this year, bringing a more rapid rate of job creation, that should translate into more households, raising housing demand. We won’t see all three million missing households return to the housing market at once. (That wouldn’t be a good thing for the housing market anyway, since that would be on top of the 1.2 million households that normally would develop this year; such a surge would swamp the existing housing supply). Beginning in 2014, the pace of household formations should accelerate to an above-trend pace for several years, pushing up housing demand.”

KCM Comment:

The Urban Land Institute recently released a report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014, projecting that 4.48 million new households will be formed over the next three years. Millennials will make up a large portion of these new households. With the economy improving, we believe they will finally be moving out of their parents’ homes and, after they compare renting versus buying, many will choose homeownership.

Number 3: Mortgage availability shouldn’t worsen and may improve

“The rise in mortgage rates already has reduced mortgage origination volumes as refinance activity declines. If mortgage rates rise further this year, as expected, then refinance activity will fall still more. In response, mortgage lenders probably will ease lending standards to the extent possible under the QM rules to boost lending activity by increasing purchase originations. As a result, the increase in new households expected to be created this year, spurred by a stronger job market, should find that qualifying for a mortgage loan will be somewhat easier in 2014 than in prior years.”

KCM Comment:

We also believe that, as the refinancing market begins to dry up, mortgage entities will be more aggressive in the purchase money market (mortgages necessary to purchase a home). There even seems to be recent evidence that lending standards are actually loosening.

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Affordable Water Views

Below is a great new townhouse listing of ours at 4 Willow Dr #9.  This is a 2 bed, 2 bath condo with 1,065 square feet for $579K. Check out the water views!


4 Willow 1

4 Willow 2

4 Willow 4

4 Willow 3







MLS COPY: Spectacular water views from hilltop East End Townhouse. Enter great room kitchen dining living open to 1st deck. Half bath with laundry complete this level. Up one floor to observatory room, currently used as a home office and den, with large walk out roof deck and panoramic views. Lower level has two good size bedrooms and a full bath and a 3rd deck. Wall unit AC on each level. LP gas Rinnai FHA heat main level. 1 parking space plus ample guest parking. Pets okay for owners. One month minimum for rentals.