architecture general info

Boston – Lovejoy Wharf Sales Underway

I am reposting this Lovejoy Wharf story from and Tom Acitelli  because it is so exciting to see it finally happening.  I worked on this project pre-development at  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage oh so many years ago.  So happy to see the incredible Barbara Cusack named sales  director for this Related Beal development.

Lovejoy Wharf sales now underway: $750,000 and way up

Plus: new renderings!

analytics general info

Boston Sales And Prices Jump

A good year end analysis from Scott at


Boston sees condo prices, sales jump

From Back Bay and Beacon Hill to Dorchester and Southie, doube-digit price increases have been seen in several Boston neighborhoods.

Boston’s red hot condo market is closing out the year with a bang, posting double-digit increases in prices and sales, the latest stats show.

The median condo price in Suffolk County, made up mostly of Boston, hit $580,000 in November after a 34 percent jump, finds real estate publisher and data firm, The Warren Group. Condo sales jumped 43 percent.

By contrast, the median home price in Boston and fellow Suffolk County communities of Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere, weighed in at $406,500 after a 3 percent increase.

Downtown Boston, including the South End, Back Bay, and Beacon Hill, led the condo price charge, with a 24 percent increase that pushed the median price to $974,000.

Jamaica Plain and South Boston both saw significant gains in condo prices in November, with prices year to date up nearly 11 percent ($445,000) in J.P. and 12 percent ($557,000) in Southie.

Dorchester and East Boston, which have been hubs of activity for new development as buyers get priced out of other neighborhoods like J.P. and the South End, also saw big gains.

Year-to-date through November, Dorchester’s median condo price has gone up 17 percent, to $344,060, while the median price of an Eastie condo rose 14 percent to $342,750.

Meanwhile, statewide, sales and prices of both condos and homes posted gains in November, posting significant gains with help from a relatively mild fall that helped keep buyers on the hunt and sellers in the game.

Sales of single-family homes across Massachusetts rose 8 percent, to 3,915 in November, reports the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR).

The state’s median home price rose 4.5 percent to $330,000.

Condo sales rose 5 percent, while the median price of a condo posted a 10 percent increase, to $304,000.

“While most people in Massachusetts were focused on raking, getting ready for Thanksgiving and shopping in November, homebuyers stayed focused and once again push closed home sales up,” said 2015 MAR president Corinne Fitzgerald, broker-owner of FITZGERALD Real Estate in Greenfield, in a press release.

analytics general info

B&T – July Is Best Month for Mass. Home Sales since 2005

BOSTON, August 25, 2015 – The 7,077 single-family home sales in July signaled the best month for the Massachusetts real estate market since June 2005, according to a new report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

By breaking 7,000 sales, July saw the market’s first return to that level in more than 10 years, since the 7,239 sales recorded in June 2005. The big month marked a 24.31 percent increase year-over-year from July 2014, which had 5,693 sales.MAsaleschartJuly15

The median sales price for single-family homes in July 2015 was $359,900, a 1.38 percent increase from July 2014’s median of $355,000. Year to date the median price has been $340,000, a 1.49 percent increase from last year’s mark of $335,000 through July.

“July’s numbers are the result of a very strong spring season and are an improvement over the sluggish start to the year,” said Cassidy Murphy, editorial director of The Warren Group. “A rough winter and pent-up demand turned into a strong spring that is a positive sign for the real estate market throughout the state.”

The condo sales market in July was also robust, seeing 2,794 sales, the most since August 2007. This month’s mark was a 20.07 percent increase from July 2014, which had 2,327. July 2015 supplanted last month as the best month in the eight-year stretch. There were 2,764 in June.

The median condo price in July was $337,500, up 3.85 percent from July 2014, when the median was $325,000. Year to date the median condo price has is $316,685, up .86 percent from $314,000 at this time last year.

Year to date Massachusetts has had 28,745 single-family home sales, a 6.52 percent increase from last year’s total through July of 26,985. There have been 12,132 condo sales through July, a 1.8 percent increase over last year’s year-to-date total of 11,917.

The Warren Group has recorded and tracked real estate transactions since 1872. The fourth-generation family-owned company uses its long-time leadership in Boston real estate and banking information to produce specialized reports and printed publications, including Banker & Tradesman and The Commercial Record.

With more than 140 years as a local business leader, The Warren Group has developed relationships with a variety of industry leaders and trade groups, including bankers, mortgage brokers, credit unions and lawyers. Working together with our partners, The Warren Group organizes trade shows and industry events, including The Bank Summit, coming in October.

For more information about The Warren Group, visit

general info trends

Three Boston Neighborhoods With A September To Remember


An interesting post from


Three Hub Condo Markets Have a September to Remember

Thursday, October 16, 2014, by Tom Acitelli
Here’s the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates.

up-arrow.jpgIf September was the month that you were supposed to put down the home sale and pick up the homework, then nobody told the CambridgeSomerville and South End condominium markets. In Cambridge, the number of condominiums that went under agreement in September 2014 was 53 percent greater than did so in September 2013. In the South End, September under-agreements were up 64 percent. And versus September 2013, Somerville’s under agreements were up 18 percent and the median list price of Somerville under-agreements was up an impressive 20 percent.

These significant sales gains were in sharp contrast to the weak and somewhat flat results of many other Hub condo markets. In Back Bay, 17 percent fewer condominiums went under agreement in September 2014 than in September 2013. And, in Charlestown, September under-agreements were off 29 percent compared with the year before.

What was the leading indicator of how a market fared in 2014 versus 2013? Inventory, of course. In Cambridge, 40 percent more listings came to market this September versus last. The South End listed 20 percent more condos than it did in September 2013. In contrast, the Back Bay (-23 percent) and Charlestown (-23 percent) markets had significantly fewer condominium listings come to market than they had last September.

The increase in for-sale inventory and the advantageous market conditions combined to make this the best September for Cambridge pending sales since 2007. As well, according to MLS, data it was the best South End September for pending sales in at least as long. In Somerville, where nearly three times as many condominiums went under agreement as did in September 2011, it might have been the best ever September.

Will the uptick in pending sales continue in these key Hub markets for the rest of the year? It will depend on the amount of sale-able inventory that comes to market.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

general info

What to Watch For This Fall In Boston Real Estate-


Very good post by Tom at


What to Watch This Fall in Greater Boston Real Estate

by Tom Acitelli


[Rendering from Pei Cobb Freed/Cambridge 7 Associates via the Globe]
‘Tis the unofficial start of autumn/fall this week with the passing of Labor Day, so we thought we’d dive into which trends and events in Greater Boston Real Estate Land are worth your attention in the next few months (they’re certainly things we’ll be following). Will Boston see its first $20M condo sale? Will Everett get a casino-resort? Will Revere? Can anything bring Hub apartment rents down? Come along, now, let’s get interested.

The Great Luxury Apartment Pivot
This is a phenomenon already under way and it could really pick up steam this fall: the conversion of under-construction or planned luxury apartment complexes into luxury condos. There are two big reasons for this: a dearth of available condos, especially in downtown Boston (more on this in a bit); and too many new luxury apartments going up, especially in downtown Boston (more on this, too, in a bit). Higher demand in a red-hot condo market also makes this move deliciously appealing.

Up, Up and Away Go Condo Prices
Condo sales prices throughout the region have been scaling up for many months now. Take downtown Boston (please… no, seriously…). It’s entirely likely that as you read this that area’s average condo price is $1,000,000 or more. Limited supply + seemingly insatiable demand + maddening opposition to new development + historically low (for now) mortgage rates = sellers asking, and getting, more and more—a trend sure to continue this fall.

And the Rents Came Tumbling Down (Sort Of)
We called a luxury apartment glut a while ago and it looks like it’s here. Newer developments are starting to offer mad-crazy incentives to lure tenants (two free months?!) and others are taking their sweet time leasing up. Add to this surplus of supply a greater number of vacancies in general and you’ve got the seeds of gradually lower rents, particularly at the higher-end. We think this fall will mark the end, at least for a while, of $3,000-a-month studios. It was a helluva run.

Mass. Rolls the Dice on Everett or Revere 
Mark your calendars: Friday, Sept. 12. That is when the state gaming commission is set to designate either Everett or Revere as host city of eastern Massachusetts’ casino-resort. Yes, it seems like the wrangling has been going on forever (and it has: Massachusetts has already taken longer than any other state on its casino licensing, according to The New York Times); but the deadline for a decision is clearly in sight this fall. But! So is another deadline of sorts: Election Day on Nov. 4, when voters will have a chance to repeal the 2011 law O.K.’ing casinos.

The March Toward Boston’s First $20M Condo Begins
Construction on the massive pair of towers (massive for Boston, at least) at the Christian Science Plaza is likely to start this fall. The taller of the two towers will be quite swanky, with condos and hotel rooms managed by the Four Seasons brand (the tower’s rendered above, to the left of the Pru). Speculation has already started as to whether this699-foot spire, destined to be the tallest residential one in Boston, will host the city’s first-ever $20,000,000 condo deal. Allow us to add to the speculation: Yes, or the tower going atop Copley Place will.

As always, dear reader, stay tuned.

general info

Five Trends – Boston Real Estate

Tom Acitelli does a great job outlining issues effecting the Boston market in this post on

The Five Trends Dominating Boston Real Estate Right Now

Monday, August 25, 2014, by Tom Acitelli

[Photo by Bill Damon via Flickr]

It’s a deceptively simple question: What’s driving Boston’s housing market, both the rental and for-sale sides, right this second? The short answer is low supply and high demand. There’s more to it, though. Thus! We run down the five trends driving the city’s residential real estate. And we also offer a prediction for 2015 and beyond. Hold us to it. For now, the first of the five trends…

Low Inventory
Our numbers guru David Bates was the first to the party on this trend and has stayed with it ever since. Basically, there are way too few condos and single-family homes to satiate demand in Boston. Moreover, there is relatively little on the for-sale horizon development-wise. Also! The city’s poor planning over the last several decades hasn’t helped matters nor has Boston’s legendary aversion to height and density in its downtown areas.

Lots of New Luxury Apartments
There is a silver lining in the storm cloud that is Boston’s dearth of new for-sale development, and it comes at the expense of its luxury apartment market. In short, there are a lot of luxury apartments going up in the city, maybe too many. It’s taking some new complexes a long time and all sorts of tenant sweeteners to fill their units. Some luxury rental towers, then, have pivoted to condos, opening up that much more for-sale inventory.

Bidding Wars
Still, what little new condo development there is in Boston is not nearly enough to satisfy that demand. (And, frankly, this holds true for the rental development as well.) So those in the market for condos in particular often show up at open houses with garbage bags full of cash or some other ready financing, prepared to go above and beyond what sellers want. Yes, bidding wars are a common feature of many condo sales across the city; perhaps even most. These bidding wars lead tosuper-fast sales and to our next trend.

The redoubtable Mr. Bates has also been all over this one: Lots of Boston buyers offering lots over what condos (and single-families) are asking. It’s not only that this over-ask trend drives up prices that much more; it’s that the, um, coverage of such over-asks drives up the hype and hysteria surrounding the Boston housing market. The vibrancy of Boston real estate is a very real thing, don’t get us wrong; we just wonder how much of it is a self-perpetuating cycle and how much is really the invisible hand doing its thing.

Tougher Lending
Even though mortgage rates remain cartoonishly low, lending terms remain tougher than they were before the last bubble burst in 2007 and 2008. Simply put, it’s harder to get a home loan; and harder to get one on terms that will allow for victory in a Boston bidding war. This keeps more Bostonians in the rental market, which, in turn, dries up the inventory in that real estate sector; which, in turn, ensures that rents escalate along with sales prices. Vicious cycle, this.

But! The Federal Reserve has signaled a gradual rise in rates through 2015. This will make it more expensive to borrow money for a mortgage, which could dampen the fervor of Boston buyers (of U.S. buyers in general). That will mean fewer bidding wars, fewer over-asks, more tenants instead of owners (sorry, apartment-hunters), and, ultimately, fewer sellers, as homes are taken off the market or never put on in the first place as prices come down amid this flagging demand. Or at least that’s the scenario. Starting next year.

general info

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.

general info

Boston Is One Of The Healthiest Markets

I like Scott’s take on what constitutes a healthy real estate market.  A more balanced inventory picture certainly is part of it.

Greater Boston one of the “healthiest” markets?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

The Boston area has been anointed one of the “healthiest” real estate markets in the country by real estate website Zillow.

In fact, we weigh in at No. 6, behind only the top California markets and Denver, healthier than 75 percent of the hundreds of markets surveyed by Zillow.

And how did Zillow come to this conclusion? Apparently, we have a relatively low foreclosure rate – just one in every 10,000 was foreclosed on in October – while just 12 percent of homeowners in the Boston area are mired in the negative equity trap.

Overall, home values were up more than 9 percent in October to a median of $343,000.

I beg to differ.

Zillow’s metrics speak volumes about the health of the Greater Boston jobs market, one of the strongest in the country for some years now.

More high-paying jobs compared to other metro markets mean higher prices, less negative equity and fewer foreclosures. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that one.

But while Boston-area sellers are doing better now, this has to be one of the worst markets in the country for home buyers right now.

Listings of homes for sale are skidding along at all time lows and construction of new homes and condos remain mired in what has become a decades-long slump.

Some buyers have become desperate enough to resort to mass mailings in a hunt for potential homes to buy.

At least for buyers, the Boston area is hardly a healthy market. In fact, right now, it has to be one of the sickest housing markets in the country, if measured by buyer frustration.

So what’s your take? Is Greater Boston really one of the country’s healthiest housing markets? And frankly, what does “healthy” truly mean when we are talking real estate?


general info

Condo Prices Increasing Faster Than Single-Family Homes

The post below is from  Dan Stone and his blog The Mortgage Report Daily. He is based in Madison Wisconsin. It also provides a good top level review of mortgages for condos. In our local markets its all about condos so it is interesting to see his mid western viewpoint..i.e. “Getting a mortgage for a condo can sometimes be a challenge”. Regardless it is a good and informative post. Sometimes we need to see what the middle of the country is thinking and doing.

 Case-Shiller Index : U.S. Condos Increasing In Value Faster Than Comparable Single-Family Homes

August 9,  2013.

Case-Shiller Index shows home prices in U.S. condominiums and co-ops outpacing single-family residences

As the U.S. housing market gains, it’s taking the condominium market with it.

Home price growth in condos and co-ops is outpacing growth in single-family residences. This is a major shift for the housing market — condos were among the most distressed sectors of last decade’s housing market downturn.

Home sellers are getting higher prices for their condos.

Los Angeles Condos Jump 23%; Chicago Rises 12%

According to the most recent Case-Shiller Index, home values climbed 12.2 percent nationwide for the 12 months ending May 2013. This jump marks the biggest one-year increase in home valuation since the Case-Shiller Index launched 26 years ago.

Each of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked cities posted annual gains, led by the San Francisco Bay Area; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona. Home valuations in the Las Vegas are up 23% since from 12 months ago, which claws back against the heavy losses sustained last decade.

The “last place” finisher in the May 2013 Case-Shiller Index? New York City.

As compared to one year ago, home values in the city’s five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island — rose just 3.3 percent, which is well below the U.S. national average.

However, the Case-Shiller headline figure tells just part of the story.

In New York City, the market is thick with condominiums and co-ops and it just so happens that the Case-Shiller Index ignores homes of these types. If we were to add back condos and co-ops to the Case-Shiller Index data, we’d actually see that New York City is performing quite well.

In New York, condo values are up nearly 10% since last year — well above the broader index’s reading of 3.3 percent.

The same is true in other Case-Shiller Index markets, too. Condos in the 4 other cities tracked by the Case-Shiller Condominium Index showed strong annual gains, and each outpaced its home city.

  • Los Angeles, California : Condos +23.1% annually (versus +19.2% for single-family homes)
  • San Francisco, California : Condos + 27.6% annually (versus +24.5% for single-family homes)
  • Chicago, Illinois : Condos + 11.9% annually (versus +8.5% for single-family homes)
  • Boston, Massachusetts : Condos +8.7% annually (versus +7.5% for single-family homes)
  • New York City, New York : Condos + 9.8% annually (versus +3.3% for single-family homes)

With tight supply and limited construction, buyers of condos and co-ops should expect higher home prices through the end of 2013 and into early-2014, at least.

Mortgages For Condominiums

Getting a mortgage for a condo can sometimes be a challenge. Last decade, lenders were burned on condos for a variety of reasons and so they’ve bounced back on condo loans a bit more cautious and a bit more wise.

Today’s buyers of condos have fewer financing choices as compared to buyers of single-family detached homes.

As one example, buyers using conventional mortgage financing via Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac pay a premium for all loans with less than 25% equity. For this reason, buyers of condos and co-ops are encouraged to cap loans at 75% loan-to-value (LTV).

Condo loans above 75% LTV remain acceptable and approvable, however, the accompanying mortgage rate and/or closing costs will likely be higher.

VA loans for condos are available, too. VA loans allow 100% financing with no mortgage insurance required. Mortgage rates tend to be relatively low with a VA loan because all VA loans are guaranteed by the government.

In nearly all cases, though, buyers of condominiums will want to verify a building’s warrantability.

“Warrantability” is a mortgage term whether mortgages in a given condo building are eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Non-warrantable condos are sometimes denied for funding, but not always.

A building’s warrantability is based on a host of traits, some of which include :

  1. No person owns more than 10% of the building units
  2. No more than 50% of the building’s units are active rental units
  3. No more than 20% of the building is dedicated to commercial/retail space

To determine whether a building is warrantable or non-warrantable, mortgage lenders will often use a “condominium questionnaire”, which addresses the lendability of a building.

Non-warrantable condos can still be financed, it should be mentioned. Product availability, however, is limited and mortgage rates are sometimes higher.

The Case-Shiller Index reports rising values for today’s condos and co-ops. In many cases, condo prices have climbed more than for comparable single-family residences. Buyers of condos should expect rising prices.

About the Author

Dan Green (NMLS #227607) is an active loan officer with Waterstone Mortgage. You can also connect with Dan on Twitter and on Google+.

analytics general info

Shadow Demand Outweighs Shadow Inventory

Very interesting post from Mike Simonsen at Altos Research. In essence he is saying that buyers who held back buying in a sluggish economy are now entering the market in a time of low inventory, creating additional demand, which becomes hard to satisfy.

Real Estate Shadow Demand Outweighs its Shadow Inventory


Quit your yapping about how strong the real estate market is, Simonsen. It’s a fake rally. There is no actual demand.

That’s the bearish argument I’ve been hearing lately. I’m not buying it.

For years we’ve been watching the phenomenon of “Shadow Inventory” of potential homes that need to be sold, and looking for impact on the market. This set of underwater or distressed properties is now shrinking rapidly.  The number of homes with underwater mortgages fell by nearly two million last year. According to the Fed, home price gains of 10% will be enough to move 40% of underwater borrowers back above water. These home sellers are highly likely to buy another home in the same or comparable market, off setting new supply with new demand.

Meanwhile another phenomenon that emerged from the bubble burst has been developing, and it’s hit the market with full force. Shadow Demand. Demand for homes that went unsatisfied, primarily due to financial and economic uncertainty, that can now emerge as jobs recover and mortgages remain cheap.

Housing’s Shadow Demand

Let’s look at the source of new demand. Increased demand for housing comes from new “households.”

household formation

Cumulative Household formation surpluss/defecit relative to 5 year average (millions). Source: Federal Reserve Bank, Altos ResearchFrom 1997 through 2007, each year an average of 1.3 million new households were formed per year. Our population grows via immigration and kids maturing. These people need to  rent or buy homes, or they double up with friends and family. During the Great Recession, household formation was closer to 600,000 per year. Population growth continued at about the same pace but people didn’t move into homes of their own.  That means for the three years of 2008, 2009, 2010 we had “Shadow Demand” forming around 2 million potential homes that can’t wait to launch on their own.

In the chart above, you can see that households get formed during times of economic strength. People hide when the economy is bad.

Household formation in the five years of the housing bust was lower than any five year period since the 1960s.  This is the Shadow Demand and it’s now hitting the real estate market. These millions of potential buyers were waiting until they were financially stable and until the bargains arrived. In 2012, these conditions converged. In 2013 employment and recovery is stronger. Real estate demand is higher.

Despite all the risks in the US and global economies, the 2012 real estate market’s demand is a function of years of pent up purchases. After years of historic lows, this demand trends seems poised for a multi-year recovery.