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Boston Condo Prices Set Record… And A Scarcity Of Units Ensues!

Yesterdays Boston Globe article follows for those who didn’t see it. It is all the buzz!… and for good reason.

Globe Staff / July 24, 2012
Condominium values in Boston’s core reached a record high during the second quarter of this year as eager buyers drove up sales, according to data­ scheduled to be released Tuesday.
The median price in a dozen downtown neighborhoods — they include Beacon Hill, the Fenway, the North End, and South Boston — climbed to $515,000 during the three months that ended June 30, according to LINK, meaning half sold for more than that price and half for less. That topped the previous peak of $498,500 in 2008, just prior to the nation’s financial crisis. LINK, a Boston company, tracks the downtown condominium market.
The increase adds to mounting evidence that the state’s housing market is on the mend, housing specialists said.

The feeling out there is prices are not going to soften anymore,” said Barry ­Bluestone, the director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. “We are seeing the real signs of a recovery in the housing market.”

Even during the worst years of the real estate industry’s decline, condominium prices in some of Boston’s more desirable areas fell only modestly, putting the local market in a better position to rebound. Prices and sales were propped up by higher-income homeowners who were hurt less during the recession, as well as by the increasing popularity of urban living coupled with limited inventory, housing specialists said.

“The city attracts young and old by providing fun and beauty, art and restaurants, all without needing a car,” said a Harvard University economist, Edward­ Glaeser, author of the book “Triumph of the City.”

Trisha Collins McCarthy, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said many condominium buyers like the idea of trading long, congested commutes for city conveniences. “We have more of a population that has said, ‘I want to be near the train,’ ’’ she said.

After dropping for a couple of years, downtown condo prices started to climb in 2010. This year, that growth has been bolstered by continued low interest rates and improving consumer confidence, according to housing specialists.

Condominium sales volume was up sharply during the second quarter of this year, to 1,051, or nearly 36 percent more than during the same three months of last year.

The median sale price of condominiums in luxury buildings — those that offer amenities such as concierge and valet services — also climbed.

The $779,000 median closing price for the luxury condos was 7.8 percent higher than during the second quarter of 2011, LINK said, compared with 7.5 percent higher for the all of the Boston neighborhoods measured by the company.

The number of luxury condo sales during the past three months increased by 22.2 percent to 198, the company said.

Statewide, single-family home values remained essentially flat in June, at $331,000, compared with June 2011, while the number of sales increased by 18 percent to 5,099, according to William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance. It is based in Shelton, Conn., but also does business in Massachusetts.

Even though more people are signaling they are ready to buy a condominium in Boston, real estate agents say they struggle to find enough units to show. Only 531 properties were available in the downtown area on the last day of June, about half the number up for sale on that day in 2011, LINK reported.

Eddy Foley, 45, said he has spent six months looking for a South End condominium priced in the $500,000 range. He found one he wanted, but lost out when someone else bid $34,000 over the asking price.

“It’s torture out there,” Foley said. “There’s really nothing available.”

Carmela Laurella, president of the Boston-based real estate company CL Waterfront Properties LLC, said condominiums priced reasonably are selling quickly.

Indeed, sales on the Boston waterfront jumped by 72.7 percent in the second quarter, compared with the second quarter of 2011. The median price for a waterfront condominium increased by 21.2 percent, to $827,000, LINK found.

“We have more demand than we have property to sell,’’ Laurella said. “We can barely list anything without it going under [a purchase agreement] within a couple of weeks.”

John Ranco, a senior sales associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate in the South End, said times have changed so drastically that real estate agents are now searching to locate interested sellers rather than wary buyers.

“The supply side is really hurting,” Ranco said. “There is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand.”

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

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The Goode and Farmer Report – Boston Q2 Update

The Big Number is 16%. That’s the increase in condo sales in Boston as of June 30. Combined, all Boston neighborhoods saw a 16% increase in the number of condo sales year to date, a 2% increase in the average price of a condominium sold, and a 5% increase in the median sales price. Put together all this good news is more evidence that while not necessarily out of the woods, this real estate market is healthier than most. The one downside to this exceptional sales activity is that inventory levels of available condo’s for sale have fallen 38% to 1,177 properties for sale versus 1,903 at th is time last year.

Boston’s most expensive neighborhood the Back Bay,  saw a 30% increase in sales while the average price  of a condo sold dropped by 11% to $1.162M. The inventory level of properties for sale dropped 31% to 168 condos for sale vs 242 last year.

The South End saw a 24% increase in the number of condo sales to 264 properties and  the average price of a condo sold increased 1% to $684K. The inventory of condos for sale decreased 45% from 208 to 114. Unless this condition corrects itself this will be a factor in market performance going forward.

South Boston, the darling of the my last market report moderated somewhat with a 4% increase in the average sales price to $408K and a 12% increase in sales to 235 properties sold through the second quarter. South Boston has the largest drop in inventory of all downtown n’hoods down 56% from 225 properties for sale last year to 99 available for sale today.

Every downtown neighborhood has it’s own story and most are positive excepting the inventory numbers. Total Boston numbers highlight the good news. Sales volume is up 19% to $1.080B… One Billion, 80 million dollars! Average days on market are down 12% and the inventory of properties for sale is down 38%.  These numbers highlight incredible short term performance but portend serious issues going forward.

 

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The Goode and Farmer Report – Provincetown Q2 Update

Sales through the 2Q in Provincetown continue to be strong! Growing economic optimism and continued low interest rate have kept buyers and sellers in the market, and almost more importantly, there is a great assortment of properties for sale.

Year-to-date condominium sales through the second quarter surged 28% from 54 sales last year to 69 sales this year. The average sales price of condos sold increased 11% to an average of $400K vs. $361K last year.

Single Family sales did more than surge – they exploded! We went from 14 sales last year to 27 sales through the second quarter. Even with this relatively small sampling, these represent very positive increases. The average sales price of single-family properties sold was $731K. The total sales volume of single-family homes sold was close to $20M – up 67% from last year’s volume of $11.8M.

These figures are evidence that the market has improved markedly year-over-year. More evidence of the market improvement can be seen in both the condo and single-family segments where the average days on market has decreased by 33% and 9% respectively. While we don’t look at days on market with quite the same importance as we do in Boston, DOM’s are a good indication that properties are selling faster and that the inventory of properties for sale is becoming leaner.

Speaking of inventory, as of July 14 there are 157 condominiums for sale in Provincetown, with an average price of $466K and an average price per square foot of $583. And the average days these remain on market is 246.

There are 77 single-family properties for sale with an average price of $1.441M with an average of 2,398 square feet.

We are in the midst of an incredible summer season here in town and this will surely add to the positive real estate news. The number of buyers and of sellers looking to market their properties for sale is up, indicating continued strength and excitement for real estate in our little fishing village.

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Low Inventory Pushing Prices Up In Boston?

Scott Van Voorhis  did a great post on declining inventory levels finally driving up prices in Boston.  I have excerpted the post below. The numbers are staggering in many of the markets shown.

Boston has landed near the top of a list of major metro markets across the country where low inventory appears to finally driving up home prices.

Boston comes in No. 11 on the report, having seen the number of homes on the market drop 37 percent over the past year, as of June 19, according to a new report by Movoto Real Estate. (Movoto is an national on-line brokerage whom I am certainly not endorsing but who did an interesting report). During the same period prices of homes on the market in the Hub have risen 11 percent to nearly $300,000.

Here’s an excerpt from Movoto’s report.

We are seeing a gradual increase in the prices of homes in areas that have been most affected by low inventory. This could be an indicator the housing market has finally pulled out of its slump. We’d like to think so.

Here are the two relevant sets of stats taken from the Movoto report. The first shows declining inventory levels in Boston and other major metro markets across country.

  • Las Vegas, down 66 percent
  • San Francisco, down 65 percent
  • Miami, down 62 percent
  • Fresno, down 52 percent
  • Oakland, down 50 percent
  • Long Beach, down 49 percent
  • Seattle, down 42 percent
  • Mesa, down 41 percent
  • Phoenix, down 41 percent
  • Portland, down 41 percent
  • Boston, down 37 percent

The second set of stats, also from Movoto, shows the rise in list prices in these same cities.

  • Las Vegas, up 52 percent
  • Phoenix, up 30 percent
  • Mesa, up 25 percent
  • Miami, up 23 percent
  • San Francisco, up 23 percent
  • Austin, up 22 percent
  • Oakland, up 17 percent
  • Seattle, up 14 percent
  • Fresno, up 13 percent
  • Long Beach, up 12 percent
  • Boston, up 11 percent

Combine more buyers with fewer sellers and prices start to go up.

That tried and true  economic law of supply and demand is always the reason why prices go up or down. As I say repeatedly… Empirical data does not lie.

 

 

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We All Knew It – Home Sales Are Back

The comeback in home sales that many of us have been seeing hints of is now backed up with solid numbers. All reports are showing sales increases as well as declining inventory levels. Second quarter sales reports will show terrific numbers especially in downtown Boston neighborhoods. Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts have bounced back to levels not seen since the Great Recession sent an already declining market into a tailspin. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported this week that May home sales were up more than 27 percent over the same month last year, while  The Warren Group pegs the jump at 35 percent.

The best news is that after hints of recovery for months, and most importantly our experience on the streets, the long-suffering real estate market finally appears to be living up to expectations and is finally in a recovery and coming out of the the deep trough it plunged into after the near global economic collapse of September 2008.

The 4,445 homes sold in May surpassed both May 2007 and May 2006 as well, when 3,884 and 4,200 homes were sold, respectively, in those months, according to a comparison of numbers from past monthly reports on the MAR website.

Look for articles and reports touting these terrific results and for the resulting positive effect on buyer and seller confidence.

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June Sales In Provincetown – 5 Of My Favorites

There are so many interesting properties here. In fact, almost every one is special. Down a dirt lane, up on a hill, built in the 1700’s, owned by a sea captain or a police chief, 195 square feet on the beach, a small stand-alone condo nestled in the woods – every turn you make and every open house you go to, something wonderful intrigues you about a property.

3 Atlantic Ave, $1.065M

 

3 Atlantic Avenue has always been one of my favorite houses in town.  This is one of the town’s oldest homes dating back to the 1700’s.  One lot in from Commercial Street with peeks of the bay, this charmer recently received a total renovation. The previous owners brought this three-quarter Cape back into the 21st century preserving the original architectural details and adding the highest quality contemporary fixtures. This incredible 1,604 square foot, 3 bed/2 bath home sold for $1.065M.

 

 

 

5 Creek Round Hill, $910K

 

5 Creek Round Hill Road is a large 2,592 square foot, 3 bed/3bath single-family home in the far West End with panoramic views of the Moors. Sited to maximize views and privacy this home has multiple decks, fireplaces, a sun room and a home gym. It also includes the adjacent lot of .295 acres. This property had been on the market for 262 days and sold for a very reasonable $910K.

 

 

 

3 Thistlemore, $575K

 

Another interesting single-family home sale was 3 Thistlemore Road.  This was a really well-priced, single-family home nestled in the wooded hills of the Somerset Heights neighborhood in the East End. This house has 3 bed/2 bath, a den, 1,967 square feet and a 20′ x 20′ rooftop deck with treetop and dune views. There is a master suite on the top floor with a sitting area, fireplace and a large master bath. The outdoor gardens have been lovingly planted with perennials and herb gardens and includes a garden shed. This property was updated in 1997. See what I mean? It was a great value at $575K. 

 

 

54 Harry Kemp Way $665K

 

There have been two interesting condominium sales so far this month. One was at 54 Harry Kemp Way in the White Pines complex and sold for $665K. This is a sought after group of condos – many have great farmer porches and some are stand-alone condos reading like single-family homes. This 3 bed/3 bath home has 2,500 square feet, four floors of living space including a large master suite, 2 guest bedrooms with central air and 2 parking spaces. Talk about value!

 

 

 

46 Pleasant St #D, $435K

 

46D Pleasant Street is a terrific 1,200 square foot,  2 bed/3 bath condo in the four-unit Pleasant View complex. This property provides privacy and seclusion from the street. Handsome cabinetry, wood flooring and a newly renovated bath add to this very comfortable and attractive space. The ground level has a spacious sitting room and a cedar- walled bathing-suite. (their words, not mine). It sold for $435K and was on the market for a relatively short 51 days.

You can see why these are my favorites of all the properties sold this month. I will report on all June sales at the end of the month.

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Stay On Rte 6

Marie Yolen-Cohen so gets our fabulous little fishing village with her incredible book Stay On Route 6, and in her travel post on Huffington Post the other day. See excerpts below.

I love Provincetown. The dunes, the artists, the gayness, the glitter eyeshadow on men. It is a party town, as edge of the world towns usually are, and, as such, swarms with tourists out for a good time. It is like New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but with fewer beads, more high heels and  more men in those high heels. It is also the very start — or end, depending on which direction you head — of U.S. Route 6.

Bishop, CA is just 3205 miles away.

 

 

As I mention in my book Stay On Route 6, Provincetown is where the Mayflower Pilgrims landed first, before decamping to the more protected Plymouth.  And yes, there’s a great obelisk monument to climb — The Pilgrim Monument — considered to be the tallest all granite structure in the world.

Rob Costa of Art’s Dune Tours has been driving visitors around the Provincetown, MA sand dunes for 30 years, since he was a mere 18 years old.  His Dad, Art, launched the company in 1956, and though there were imitators over the years, Art’s remains the sole surviving Dune Tour operator on Cape Cod.  Among the eminent guests that Art escorted around were Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway who were in Provincetown filming the Thomas Crowne Affair.  Rob continues that folksy tradition.  He’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of Provincetown and its sandy habitat, informing us that “The Cape Cod National Seashore, a National Park established by President John F. Kennedy, takes up nearly 75 percent of the whole of Cape Cod” and that “Marlon Brando crawled across these dunes when he was rehearsing for A Streetcar Named Desire.”

He points out the tenacious plants that cling to life in this sandy environment, rosehips, beach plums and cranberries that thrive in fresh-water pools found throughout the dunes.  Poets, painters and writers (Eugene O’Neil, Thoreau, Jackson Pollock, for example) stayed in squatters shacks originally built in the 1850’s as temporary shelters for heroic “Surfmen” who patrolled the beach, ever ready to rescue shipwreck victims.  A bit over 100 years later, the U.S. Government removed all but 19 of these primitive dwellings — and now a few are available to Artists In Residence willing to live without electricity, fresh water or plumbing (but with one of the best vistas on the planet) for a few weeks at a time.

For a change of pace, watch six-pack abs and Katie Perry Drag Queens vie for your attention at one of the shows that puts Provincetown on the map.  Though Crown and Anchor is more famous, hit up the Post Office Cabaret for the ICONS show.  You’ve never seen prettier or more hunky boys gyrating and lip-syncing to the tunes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, Donna Summer, the dearly departed Whitney, (I’m not sure who will replace her.  Possibly the “not a real Rapper”, Nicki Minaj?) and others.

Grab a VIP ticket to sit in the front row and you get their sweat for free.

What a great post! See you in town.

 

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Amazing Year-To-Date Sales In Boston

Stunning figures. In all Boston neighborhoods combined, year-to-date as of May 31, the average selling price for condominiums is up 12% to $542K. The number of condo sales is up 19% to 1,443. Total dollar volume is up 20% to $782,000,000. The number of condos available for sale is down an amazing 65% from the same time last year, from 2,132  to 1,293 condos for sale today.

The story continues to be inventory, yet the number of sales in downtown Boston neighborhoods is up markedly or at least even with last year, except in Dorchester where the number of sales was down 17% and where inventory was down 36%.

2 Commonwealth Ave $1.43M

 

In Back Bay the number of condominium sales is up 27% to 166 sales against 131 last year. The average sales price is down 7% to $1,154K and inventory is down 34% to only 174 condos on the market as compared to 264 last year. The total dollar volume of condominium sales year to date in the Back Bay is $191M.

 

 

 

 

40 Worcester St, 1B/1B, $439K

 

In the most popular Boston neighborhood, the South End, the number of sales is up 25% to 186 against 149 last year. The average sales price for a condo year to date is equal to last year at $678K. The unbelievable story in the South End is that the inventory of properties for sale is down 49% to 122 from 241 last year.

The pressure on existing inventory is acute. The fact that we are seeing both a substantial increase in sales units and a substantial decrease in inventory for sale has created an uncomfortable balance between buyer engagement and frustration.

 

 

 

26 Danforth St., 3B/1B, $380K

 

Jamiaca Plain is experiencing the same dynamic as the South End. The average condominium sale price year to date is $363K, a 4% increase from $348K last year. The number of sales has increased 33% to 120 from 90 in 2011. The number of available condominium properties for sale is 96, a 41% decrease from 162 available last year.

 

 

 

 

529 E 8th St, 2B/2B, $463K

South  Boston, our “other” hot neighborhood saw a 27% increase in the number of sold properties to 183 versus 144 sold last year. The average selling price for a condominium year to date increased 3% to $412K from $399K last year. The number of available condos for sale decreased 57% to 112 against 261 last year at this time.

In most downtown neighborhoods the sustainability of high sales numbers in light of the huge decreases in inventory levels poses a real challenge for market balance. As always market forces will come into play. We have begun to see this in the increases in sales prices. Barring a substantial increase in inventory this trend will continue.

 

 

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Provincetown Sales Year To Date

Provincetown year to date sales figures as of May 31 look great!

5 Brown St $350K

Condo sales are up 20% over last year with 53 condos sold year to date versus 44 last year. The average sale price was up 13% to $388K versus $343K last year. The energy on “the street” is palpable. There are excited buyers looking to take advantage of historically low interest rates and affordability levels not seen in a long time.

In past posts condos under $300K were highlighted and in another the “belly” of the condo market in the $500″s was examined. Both posts illustrate the broad assortment of properties for sale which is helping to drive sales.

 

 

 

5 Harbour Dr. $2.95M

The number of single family properties sold was up an amazing 83% to 22 properties year to date versus 12 last year. The average sales price was $732K against $871K last year  which is a decrease of 16%.

In Boston we can read more into “averages” as hundreds of properties are sold each month, and averages tend to be more important and meaningful. In Provincetown with a smaller sampling of properties, averages can be skewed wildly by one excessively high or low sale, and while still important and very interesting to look at, whats’s more important is the general trajectory of sales.

 

Provincetown is on track to have a very solid year in real estate.

We will publish our quarterly Goode and Farmer Report for Provincetown Q2 in early July.  Watch for it.


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Black Bear Update!

 

At 6:15 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012, Provincetown police received two reports from local citizens regarding a black bear sighting along Route 6 and in the National Seashore. Officers discovered bear tracks in the areas where the bear was sighted. Police notified the National Park Rangers and the State Fish and Wildlife Large Animal Rescue Team. Fish and Wildlife Team members responded to Provincetown to evaluate the condition of the bear. The public is reminded to use common sense and stay safe.   Massachusetts Black Bears are a regulated species. Do not seek to locate or harass the bear for any purpose.   According to the American Bear Association bear attacks on humans are extremely rare. Bears are typically shy and easily frightened. To prevent nuisance encounters with bears store garbage indoors or in secure containers. Do not feed or leave food outside for any wild animals including bears. Take birdfeeders indoors.   Should the public encounter the bear:   Stay calm. DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response by the bear)   Pick up children so they don’t run or scream.   RESTRAIN YOUR DOG.   Avoid eye contact and talk in a soothing voice.   If the bear stands up, he is NOT going to attack but is curious and wants a better sniff or view   Back away slowly. If the bear chomps their jaw, lunges or slaps the ground or brush with paw he feels threatened.   Slowly retreat from the area or make a wide detour around the bear. DO NOT block or crowd the bear’s escape route.   These guidelines provided by the American Bear Association.     The public is encouraged to contact the Provincetown Police Department at 508-487-1212 with accurate and detailed sighting details.   More information can be found from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.   http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/facts/mammals/bear/black_bear_biology_faq.htm#biofaq31