I am reposting this Lovejoy Wharf story from Curbed.com 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.
Interesting story from Scott detailing the rise in median prices in metro Boston.
The 9 Boston area towns where median home price has hit $1M
The median price of a single-family home has shot past the $1 million mark in several cities and towns across the Boston area during the first half of 2015, the latest real estate stats show.
Nine communities, from urban Cambridge to bucolic Lincoln, have seen their median home prices hit seven figures as demand for brand-name location combines with a shortage of homes for sale to drive up values.
Concord saw one of the biggest gains, with the median home prices in the historic town hitting $1,050,000 after a 24 percent leap this June compared to the same month a year before, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports.
Other cities and towns posted impressive gains as well.
Somerville saw single-family prices skyrocket in June by over 50 percent, to $855,000. Through the first six months of the year, Somerville prices weighed in at a still lofty $621,600, the real estate group reports.
Condo prices in Somerville rose 12 percent through the first half of the year, hitting $552,500.
Bedford saw home prices rise 20 percent, to $785,000 in June, according to MAR.
Overall, sales and prices were up markedly across the state in June, making it the best month since August 2005, back during the last real estate boom, noted Tim Warren, chief executive of real estate market tracker and publisher, The Warren Group.
“We are seeing the early results from a strong spring market,” Warren said in a press release. “It is a remarkable showing after a prolonged slump and a sluggish recovery extending over the past 10 years.”
Good post by Scott about the effects of continued scarce inventory.
Why home prices are likely to stay high
Despite talk of the need for new housing, the number of building permits being issued across Massachusetts has yet to rebound to its pre-Great Recession peak.
Building permit slowdown
Developers took out just 1,051 building permits for single-family homes during the first three months of the year, U.S. Census Bureau stats show.
That represents a 16 percent drop from the same period in 2014 and a 65 percent drop from early 2006, when the real estate market was last in boom mode.
New apartment and condo construction is doing somewhat better. Developers took out permits for 2,370 new units, or roughly double the number of single-family homes, according to Census stats.
Yet the number of total housing units is still 33 percent below where it was back in the early months of 2006.
And the shortage of listings on the market has been widely blamed for pushing up home and condo prices as demand exceeds supply.
“In theory, 2014 should have been better than 2013, but it wasn’t,” said Jeff Rhuda, director of business development at Symes, a home builder in the North Shore. “In theory, you have a recovering economy, but I think 2015 will end up below 2014.”
Tough regulations in towns and neighborhoods across the Boston area are one reason for the slow recovery in housing construction, especially as it relates to single-family homes, builders contend.
“It is going to get worse.” – Jeff Rhuda, director of business development at Symes
It is also especially hard to build new single-family homes within the Route 128 beltway, where the biotech and tech sectors are booming and demand for new homes is the strongest.
A dearth of developable land combined with local restrictions has resulted in a steady decline in home building in the communities closest to Boston.
And with no major game changer in the works in terms of efforts to force local communities to open their doors to more housing, the number of homes being built in the Boston area is likely to only continue to fall, Rhuda contends.
“It is going to get worse,” he said.
Interesting post by Scott.
Homes are getting more expensive all over Mass., but these towns have it worst
The cost of buying a house in Massachusetts, already one of the most expensive states in the nation, just keeps on going up.
The pattern continues
Bay State home prices rose again in April, and several Greater Boston suburbs posted some of the biggest gains.
The median price of a home in Massachusetts rose 3 percent from last year to $324,500, reports The Warren Group, which tracks home prices across the state.
Home sales fell 7.6 percent, but given that most of the initial purchase and sales agreements were inked in February amid record snowfall, with the final closings in April, the decline was likely a result of the extreme winter weather, said Timothy M. Warren Jr., The Warren Group’s chief executive.
“Prices, though, continue to rise, which tells us that the demand is there and the market is strong,” Timothy M. Warren Jr. of the Warren Group said. “Lack of inventory is the biggest problem.”
Overall, a combination of strong demand coupled with a shortage of homes for sale has helped drive prices up, experts say. Newly built starter homes are somewhat of a rarity inside Route 128, and home building numbers are down in general across the state.
“Prices, though, continue to rise which tells us that the demand is there and the market is strong,” Warren said. “Lack of inventory is the biggest problem.”
Some towns stand out
Home prices have risen across the state in the past 30 out of 31 months, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, which issued its own report. And some communities with extreme price increases also saw big dips in the amount of homes for sale.
• Milton saw its median price rise 77 percent to $753,000. The number of homes for sale dropped by nearly 12 percent, according to MAR.
• Hingham saw its median price soar past $952,000. Meanwhile, homes for sale dropped 23 percent.
• Westwood saw a 42 percent increase, to $707,000, while the number of homes on the market lowered by 6 percent.
Arlington, Medfield, Framingham, Natick, Hopkinton, Needham, Lexington, Milford, Newton, North Andover, and Andover all saw price increases ranging from 12 to more than 30 percent. With a couple exceptions, most also saw the number of listings drop.
Condo sales are more varied
Meanwhile, condo prices fell statewide by 4 percent from last year to $305,000, with sales declining by 12 percent, according to the Realtors group.
However, a number of Boston area communities bucked that trend to follow the familiar growing-prices/falling-inventory arc instead, MAR finds.
• Newton: median condo price jumped 28 percent to $675,000, while the units on the market fell by 33 percent.
• Arlington: 15 percent jump in median condo price to $472,000, coupled with a 23 percent drop in the number of properties on the market.
• Brookline: median condo price rose 14 percent to $672,000, while the number of units for sale dropped by a quarter.
• Boston: median condo price rose 11 percent to $519,000, while listings fell 15 percent.
Provincetown shares many of these same characteristics! Just saying.
Why You Should Stay in Boston for the Rest of Your Life
Forget retiring to Florida. Boston may be the place to settle down.
According to AARP’s “Livability Index,” Boston is the second most-livable large city in the United States, falling just behind San Francisco.
Though AARP makes it clear that the index can relate to people of all ages, there are specific applications for the elderly:
“Retired residents on fixed incomes need affordable places to live; those who don’t drive need other transportation options; and those with mobility challenges need accessible transportation and housing. No one wants to be forced to leave their community because of changing income or physical agility.”
And, on AARP’s list of the 10 most livable neighborhoods, Boston’s Downtown Crossing made the cut.
AARP elaborated upon Downtown Crossing’s score calling it, “A shopping district in transition to more mixed use with high-rise residences. Adjacent to Boston Common (and all of its recreational amenities), the theater district and the financial district. Stations for three main rail lines are nearby. Some streets are for pedestrians only.”
With AARP’s “livability index” you can type in an address, state, city, or zip code to get a score that is based on an assessment of seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity.
Boston received a score of 65 out of 100 for livability, broken down into the seven categories below. Each score is out of 100.
Housing (80): 86.3 percent of the units in Boston are multi-family and there are 681 subsidized housing units per 10,000 people, which is way above the U.S. median of 124. AARP says that they measure units that are multi-family as elders whose spouses have passed away, single-parent families, childless couples, or people who choose to share housing with roommates may prefer this living situation. But Boston’s housing costs, ($1,455 average per month), which includes taxes, rent, mortgage fees, and utilities, falls significantly above the U.S. average ($999 per month).
Neighborhood (76): In this category Boston ranks above the national average in a slew of metrics: access to grocery stores and famers markets, access to parks, access to libraries, access to jobs by transit, access to jobs by auto, diversity of destinations, and activity density. However, the city’s crime rate is slightly higher than the national average.
Transportation (84): In regards to frequency of local transit service, walking trips, household transportation costs, and crash rates, Boston does better than the United States on average. Maybe not so shockingly, Boston does worse than average in terms of traffic congestion.
Environment (65): Boston ranks well in drinking water quality and air quality, boasting only two unhealthy air quality days per year, below the median U.S. average of eight days. But Boston does fall short in near-roadway pollution and local industrial pollution.
Health (65): 99.8 percent of people in Boston have access to exercise opportunities and 21.7 percent of people are obese, which is below the national average. Tobacco use and the availability of health care professionals are both fairly average. But preventable hospitalization rate and patient satisfaction in Boston both were worse than the national averages.
Engagement (61): This category looked at metrics based on civic and social engagement in the community. Boston ranked very high in Internet access and also fell above the national average of the number of cultural, artistic, and entertainment institutions available. Opportunity for civic involvement and the social involvement index were both about average, while voting rates in the Hub are lower than the national average.
Opportunity (25): This was Boston’s worst ranking of the seven, scoring below average in all of the metrics – income inequality, jobs per worker, high school graduation rate and age diversity.
Pending Sales Surge: Great Sign for the Housing Market
The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed that homes going into contract in February increased to their highest level since June 2013.
The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The Index is now 12.0 percent above February 2014. The index is at its highest level since June 2013, has increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and is above what is considered “the average level of activity” – for the 10th consecutive month.
Here is a graph showing the Pending Sales numbers:
Here is a chart showing the Pending Sales increases by region:
In an article from Investors’ Business Daily, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, explained what these numbers will mean to the overall market:
“It looks like the buyers want to come out to the market and they are eager to find the right home and make an offer. Therefore, I expect the second quarter of this year to be easily ahead of last year in terms of sales activity. Pending contracts are implying that the closing activity in coming months will be quite solid.”
Great post by Scott at Boston.com
The Numbers Behind Boston’s Record-Breaking Year in Development
Boston’s building boom is poised to shift into overdrive over the next few months as two big new tower projects come up for approval at City Hall.
A revised proposal to replace a four-story garage next to the TD Garden with a 46-story residential tower is working its way through the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s vetting process, said Brian Golden, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
And the first of four towers that will replace the Government Center garage eyesore is also moving towards a final approval vote by the BRA’s board, Golden noted.
The progress on the big projects is the latest sign that the handoff of Boston’s development boom to Mayor Marty Walsh has apparently come off without a hitch.
During Walsh’s first year in office in 2014, the Boston Redevelopment Authority gave a green light to 62 projects across the city totaling more than $3 billion.
So far in 2015, City Hall’s development arm has approved another 16 projects, totaling more than $677 million, according to numbers complied by the agency.
“It quite literally has been one of the most active periods for building in Boston’s history.”
All told, 20 million square feet of new development has been green-lit by City Hall over the last few years but have yet to break ground, representing dozens of projects that are coming soon, according to BRA officials.
“That presents a very promising picture about all the projects that are in the pipeline and that will bear fruit in the coming two or three years,” Golden said.
Meanwhile, the amount of new office, lab, residential, and retail space currently under construction has also grown dramatically.
That number has nearly quadrupled to 15.6 million square feet, up from 4.5 million in 2012, according to Nicholas Martin, the BRA’s spokesman.
Projects that have won the blessing of city officials this year include the $290 million Fenway condo and apartment tower, The Point, and an $85 million plan to transform the Chain Forge Building in the Charlestown Navy Yard into a hotel.
“It quite literally has been one of the most active periods for building in Boston’s history,” Martin said.
The numbers also include thousands of new homes, condos, and apartments, with Walsh, like the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino before him, having pledged to make new housing a top priority.
Overall, the Walsh Administration has racked up numbers during its first 15 months in office that appear to match up favorably with Menino’s record — no small matter given Boston’s longest serving mayor’s intense focus on development issues in the city.
Under Walsh, the BRA signed off on plans for 4,158 residential units in 2014, rising to a total of 5,100 if the first three months of 2015 are included.
By comparison, City Hall’s development arm approved 3,898 residential units in 2012 when Menino was mayor. The $3.4 billion in overall development OK’d by the agency that year was on par with the $3 billion under Walsh’s first year.
Behind Boston’s development boom is a diverse economy that is spinning off jobs in a range of sectors, including high-tech, life sciences, and financial services, real estate experts say.
The Hub’s residential, hotel, retail, and office markets are some of the most highly rated in the country when it comes to interest by real estate developers, a new survey by PwC and the Urban Land Institute finds.
There is also pent up demand for new housing amid steady growth in Boston’s population as an eclectic mix of millennials, young families, and empty nesters rediscover urban living.
The big numbers should put to rest early concerns expressed by some in the business community that Walsh might slow down the pace of development in Boston, notes David Begelfer, chief executive of NAIOP Massachusetts, a trade group that represents developers from across the state.
“Things have been moving along,” Begelfer said. “Boston is in boom time right now and it’s not a bubble but a real boom. It is very rational development.”
Micro-apartments have been popping up by the dozens in Greater Boston in the last few years, going by such aliases as innovation units and micro-lofts. However you dub these roses and where you plant them, they smell generally the same rent-wise: that is, they’re comparable, if not more expensive than, studios and even 1-BRs of similar age and size. Still, micro-apartments! From the Seaport District to East Cambridge, they’re the trend that won’t die. And we’ve got the five buildings in the region with sizable amounts of ’em. Let’s start with one opening in a matter of weeks.
100 Pier 4
The 359-unit development, part of a much larger project in the Seaport District, includes 50 innovation units spread over two floors. Above is a 3D rendering of a 460-square-foot studio asking $2,574 a month. The complex opens next month.
One Seaport Square
The 832-unit Seaport District behemoth, which includes both the Benjamin and VIA towers (and a ton of retail space), officially broke ground in November. Some of its 96 innovation units, which will be concentrated in the VIA spire, are due to be as small as 365 square feet. The rents for these are not yet clear.
[Photo via Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype Inc.]
This 38-unit conversion of an old Fort Point shoe factory dropped in early 2013, and its apartments quickly leased up, including 23 innovation units. Some of these were asking well north of $2,000 a month.
315 on A
Another Fort Point creation, 315 on A held its grand opening in January 2014. It included studios as small as 464 square feet renting for well over $2K a month. It also fostered the concept of 20-Minute Living,which you can’t put a price tag on.
Avalon North Point Lofts
The 103-unit East Cambridge complex carved from an old hot-dog factory (yup) opened in late 2014, and includes what are called micro-lofts. The available 450-square-foot ones now ask at least $2,285 a month.
Interesting post by Scott from Boston.com.
The difference between the biggest winners and losers when it comes to home prices across Massachusetts can be summed up in a single word: jobs.
Cambridge and nearby cities and suburbs dominated the 2014 list of the top ten gainers in home values over the past decade, reports The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.
The epi-center of the tech and life sciences boom, Cambridge led the way with an 80 percent increase in its median home price since 2005, which hit a lofty $1.2 million in 2014.
By contrast, the top 10 losers in value were all beyond the 128 and 495 beltways in economically struggling parts of the state, distant from the wealth and jobs of Greater Boston and Cambridge.
“Proximity to good jobs seems to be the common thread among the top communities,” Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief of The Warren Group, said in a press release. “Location matters in real estate, and here we see these key communities adding even more in terms of their home values.”
No. 3 was Lexington, at $950,000 after a 34 percent hike, and it’s practically next door to Cambridge and Somerville, separated only by high-flying Arlington.
After Lexington, there’s South Boston, Brookline, Concord, Newton, and Winchester.
By contrast, hard-hit old industrial towns and cities along Route 2 in North Central Massachusetts took the biggest hits to their home values.
Athol led the way down with a 36 percent plunge that lowered its median price to $115,000, followed by Fitchburg, Orange, and Gardner.
Three towns from Central Massachusetts also made the losers list: Warren (No. 4), Southbridge (No. 3), and Barre (No. 8).
Rounding off the list were Randolph, the only town in Greater Boston to make the list of the biggest decliners, and New Bedford.
However, rock bottom prices for homes and other real estate could provide some of the ingredients for a comeback for these communities as well, Warren noted.
“In order for prices to rebound, an economic revitalization in these areas needs to occur,” he said. “With low-cost housing abundant, these communities should be able to attract business relocations and start-ups.”