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.
Informative post by Scott at Boston.com.
Where condo prices are rising fastest in Greater Boston
The Boston area condo market is poised to get even more expensive in 2016, with rising prices spreading from shiny new luxury towers downtown to traditionally working class enclaves.
The median condo price in downtown Boston neighborhoods like the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the South End and the Fenway hit $775,000 in 2015, up 9 percent from the year before, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.
But neighboring Revere, and Boston neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester and East Boston, saw even bigger, double-digit increases.
Revere saw one of the biggest jumps in condo prices in the Boston area, with the median value leaping more than 23 percent to just under $280,000 in 2015. Sales were also up 9.8 percent for the year.
Roxbury condo prices were not far behind, rising 17 percent, to $427,500.
Dorchester, which is starting to see proposals for new condo developments, saw its median price rise nearly 12 percent, to $341,500, while East Boston hit $339,000 after an 11 percent jump.
“Bidding wars have moderated a little, but we saw 35-40% of Boston city neighborhood condos sold last year go over asking price,” noted Michael DiMella, managing partner of Charlesgate Realty.
In fact, DiMella said that number rises to 50 percent when it comes to affluent and super-hot neighborhoods like the South End and Charlestown, which saw a 27 percent jump in sales last year, one of the largest increases in the Boston area. The median price of a condo in Charlestown rose 7 percent, to $570,000, according to The Warren Group.
Increasingly upscale South Boston saw prices rise 11 percent, to $555,000.
“There’s some variation from neighborhood to neighborhood, but there was strong median price growth throughout downtown Boston, especially when you look at price per square foot,” DiMella said.
Student-packed Brighton, which is seeing its own surge of new residential construction, also saw condo prices rise 9 percent, to $353,500, while sales edged up 4.7 percent, The Warren Group reports.
Hipster hotspots like Somerville, Jamaica Plain and Cambridge also experienced big run-ups in condo prices in 2015, though sales lagged amid a tight market that saw a decline in the number of units for sale.
Cambridge prices edged up nearly 6 percent, to $570,000, while Somerville was not far behind after a 13 percent jump boosted its median condo price to $540,000. But sales fell 5 and 15 percent in Cambridge and Somerville, respectively, Warren Group stats show.
Jamaica Plain proved to be an exception, with sales rising 6 percent and its median condo price hitting $440,000 after a 10 percent increase.
“The most important driving force in the market is lack of inventory,” notes veteran Coldwell Banker real estate agent Sara Rosenfeld, who has been selling real estate in Somerville since the early 1980s. It is “supply and demand – simply laws of economics.”
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.
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.”
Interesting dynamics in the Boston and metro Boston markets – from Scott at Boston.com.
Sales rise in suburbs, slow down in Boston.
The suburbs led the way. Several communities are actually ahead of last year’s pace when it comes to home sales, according to numbers released by The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.
Cambridge proved as desirable as ever, with both condo and home sales rising markedly, as the median price of a house in the city hit $1.3 million.
Boston was more of a mixed bag; some neighborhoods posted strong numbers, but others all but fell off the map.
Overall, home sales across Massachusetts rose 4 percent in February, with the median single-family home price for the first two months of the year increasing 5 percent to $316,000, according to The Warren Group.
Condo prices rose 1.5 percent to $294,250, even as sales fell by 6 percent.
The Warren numbers, of course, only tell part of the picture, as some represent sales that were initially inked late last year, or in January of this year (before the storms) but which finally closed in February.
“The continued, sustained snowfall has been an incredible challenge for the region’s housing market,” said Dan Breault, EVP/regional director of RE/MAX of New England in a press statement. “Fortunately, spring is just around the corner and with low inventory and rising prices, we anticipate a busy spring season.”
Still, Greater Boston homebuyers proved to be a hardy bunch.
The western suburbs held up especially well, according to The Warren Group’s February housing report.
Framingham, Marlborough, Natick, Franklin, Medfield, Wayland, Lexington, Concord, Wellesley, and Weston all put in strong showings in February.
Sales so far this year are up by double digits in Framingham (20 percent), Franklin (118 percent), Concord (54 percent), Lexington (14 percent), Natick (15 percent), Wellesley (26 percent), and Needham (18 percent).
The dire cold may have made buyers stingier, as selling prices were down in a number of towns. Notable exceptions included Needham, whose median home price soared past $1 million after a 33 percent jump; Lexington, where the median price hit $875,000 after a 7.4 percent increase; and Natick and Framingham, which saw prices go up by 6 percent.
Quincy and Braintree were the stars on the South Shore, with sales for the first two months of the year rising 28 percent and 15 percent respectively. Median prices in both cities stayed just about even, at $360,000 for Quincy and $356,000 for Braintree.
North of Boston, Medford is off to a particularly fast start in 2015, with sales up 6 percent and median price up more than 10 percent, to $440,000. Sales in Reading are up 80 percent, though the median price fell 9 percent to $438,000.
But for Boston and Somerville, the latest home sales numbers for the first two months of the year had more downs than ups.
Somerville home sales plunged 36 percent, with just seven properties changing hands so far this year, while condo sales were down 14 percent. The median price of a condo dropped 6 percent, to $422,000.
In Boston, both condo and home sales were down in several neighborhoods.
South Boston saw home sales rise by a quarter, even as condo sales fell by 10 percent, while Jamaica Plain saw condo sales plunge by 25 percent, even as the median price rose nearly 20 percent to $426,500.
East Boston put in one of the strongest showings in the city, with condo sales up 46 percent for the year and the median price rising 10 percent to $385,000.
Downtown Boston saw condo sales drop by a quarter through the end of February, while the median price edged down 14 percent to $757,500.
Neda Vander Stoep, a broker in the Back Bay office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “However, with inventory remaining low and plenty of buyers on the sidelines, properties that came on during the February storms were nonetheless quick to sell.”
Leading the pack is likely to be the new Four Seasons Tower, which could see its three, gold-plated penthouses on its 61st floor each fetch upwards of $20 million, according to preliminary price estimates.
That means the Back Bay tower’s top floor may reap a total of $60 million to $70 million in sales. That figure would dwarf the $37.5 million that the 60-story Millennium Tower — now under construction in Downtown Crossing — is seeking for its top floor penthouse suite.
Construction recently kicked off on the $750 million Four Seasons tower taking shape near the Christian Science Plaza, with an opening day pegged for 2017. It will be Boston’s tallest residential building.
“This is absolutely like nothing Boston has ever seen before,” said downtown Boston broker Tracy Campion, whose Campion & Co. is selling the Four Seasons condos. “I am absolutely sure they will set records.”
So what exactly will it cost to buy one of the two-story penthouses that will crown the new tower?
Campion declined to offer up an official pricetag but indicated that a “ballpark” estimate of $3,000 per square foot was not off the mark.
Other brokers not connected with the new tower offered similar price estimates for the Four Season condos of roughly $2,500 to $3,000 a square foot.
With each unit offering 8,000 square feet of living space atop Boston, that would put the penthouses in the $24 million range.
That’s practically double the previous price record set by a condo at the posh Mandarin Oriental, also in the Back Bay, which fetched $13 million.
The Four Seasons penthouses will have a number of features — for instance, a “huge” staircase, an elevator that opens into the unit, 14-foot high ceilings — that will likely make them a hot item, especially among the deep-pocketed international investors who have begun to flood the Boston market.
And while the prices are likely to come as a shock to the Boston area, jet-setting buyers used to stratospheric New York and London values are not likely to bat an eyebrow, brokers say.
In fact, $2,300 to $3,300 a square foot is simply considered “luxury” in the New York market, with “uber luxury” in the Big Apple now priced at $5,000 a square foot, according to Otis & Ahearn, a downtown Boston luxury condo marketing and brokerage firm.
“We are not used to those numbers but those are numbers we are going to start to see,” notes David Crowley, director of sales and marketing at Raveis Marketing Group. “They are building these properties to appeal not necessarily to a local market, but to international buyers and investors.”
“International tastes are driving a lot of the finishes, layouts and amenities,” Crowley added.
Below is a great post by Mike Wheatley of RealtyBiz. Emerging trends include specialized storage, charging stations, porcelain floors, quartzite counters and more – an interesting rundown on design trends we will see in 2015.
Ten Hot Trends For 2015
This time of the year, we hear from just about every sector of the economy what’s expected to be popular in the coming year. Foodies with their fingers on the pulse of the restaurant industry and hot TV chefs will tell us to say goodbye to beet-and-goat cheese salad and hello roasted cauliflower, and there’s no end to the gadgets touted as the next big thing.
In real estate, however, trends typically come slowly, often well after they appear in commercial spaces and fashion. And though they may entice buyers and sellers, remind them that trends are just that—a change in direction that may captivate, go mainstream, then disappear (though some will gain momentum and remain as classics). Which way they’ll go is hard to predict, but here are a few trends that experts expect to draw great appeal this year
A blast of a new color is often the easiest change for sellers to make, offering the biggest bang for their buck. Sherwin-Williams says Coral Reef (#6606) is 2015’s color of the year because it reflects the country’s optimism about the future. “We have a brighter outlook now that we’re out of the recession. But this isn’t a bravado color; it’s more youthful, yet still sophisticated,” says Jackie Jordan, the company’s director of color marketing. She suggests using it outside or on an accent wall. Pair it with crisp white, gray, or similar saturations of lilac, green, and violet.
Open spaces go mainstream
An open floor plan may feel like old hat, but it’s becoming a wish beyond the young hipster demographic, so you’ll increasingly see this layout in traditional condo buildings and single-family suburban homes in 2015. The reason? After the kitchen became the home’s hub, the next step was to remove all walls for greater togetherness. Design experts at Nurzia Construction Corp. recommend going a step further and adding windows to better meld indoors and outdoors.
Buyers who don’t want to spend time or money for a custom house have another option. House plan companies offer myriad blueprints to modify for site, code, budget, and climate conditions, says James Roche, whose Houseplans.com firm has 40,000 choices. There are lots of companies to consider, but the best bets are ones that are updating layouts for today’s wish lists—open-plan living, multiple master suites, greater energy efficiency, and smaller footprints for downsizers (in fact, Roche says, their plans’ average now is 2,300 square feet, versus 3,500 a few years ago). Many builders will accept these outsiders’ plans, though they may charge to adapt them
Freestanding tubs may conjure images of Victorian-era opulence, but the newest iteration from companies like Kohler shows a cool sculptural hand. One caveat: Some may find it hard to climb in and out. These tubs complement other bathroom trends: open wall niches and single wash basins, since two people rarely use the room simultaneously.
While granite still appeals, quartzite is becoming the new hot contender, thanks to its reputation as a natural stone that’s virtually indestructible. It also more closely resembles the most luxe classic—marble—without the drawbacks of staining easily. Quartzite is moving ahead of last year’s favorite, quartz, which is also tough but is manmade.
If you’re going to go with imitation wood, porcelain will be your 2015 go-to. It’s less expensive and wears as well as or better than the real thing, says architect Stephen Alton. Porcelain can be found in traditional small tiles or long, linear planks. It’s also available in numerous colors and textures, including popular one-color combos with slight variations for a hint of differentiation. Good places to use this material are high-traffic rooms, hallways, and areas exposed to moisture.
Prices have come down for technologies such as web-controlled security cameras and motion sensors for pets. Newer models are also easier to install and operate since many are powered by batteries, rather than requiring an electrician to rewire an entire house, says Bob Cooper at Zonoff, which offers a software platform that allows multiple smart devices to communicate with each other. “You no longer have to worry about different standards,” Cooper says.
With the size of electronic devices shrinking and the proliferation of Wi-Fi, demand for large desks and separate home office is waning. However, home owners still need a dedicated space for charging devices, and the most popular locations are a corner of a kitchen, entrance from the garage, and the mud room. In some two-story Lexington Homes plans, a niche is set aside on a landing everyone passes by daily.
Builders are now addressing environmental and health concerns with holistic solutions, such as heat recovery ventilation systems that filter air continuously and use little energy, says real estate developer Gregory Malin of Troon Pacific. Other new ways to improve healthfulness include lighting systems that utilize sunshine, swimming pools that eschew chlorine and salt by featuring a second adjacent pool with plants and gravel that cleanse water, and edible gardens starring ingredients such as curly blue kale.
The new buzzword is “specialized storage,” placed right where it’s needed. “Home owners want everything to have its place,” says designer Jennifer Adams. More home owners are increasingly willing to pare the dimensions of a second or third bedroom in order to gain a suitably sized walk-in closet in their master bedroom, Alton says. In a kitchen, it may mean a “super pantry”—a butler’s pantry on steroids with prep space, open storage, secondary appliances, and even a room for wrapping gifts. “It minimizes clutter in the main kitchen,” says architect Fred Wilson of Morgante-Wilson.
A repost of Scott’s Zillow findings.
Boston is Nation’s 7th Most Valuable Real Estate Market
Boston area residential values have jumped $28 billion this year, for a nearly 5 percent gain, according to Zillow.
The Zillow Home Value Index, a blend of property assessments by local officials and market prices, pegs the median home value for the Boston area at $364,900. (Zillow pegs the median rent at $2,137.)
The increase makes Boston the seventh most valuable real estate market in the country, behind Los Angeles ($2.2 trillion), New York ($2.1 trillion), San Francisco ($1 trillion), Washington ($943 billion) Chicago ($738 billion) and Miami/Fort Lauderdale ($717 billion).
Boston edged out Philadelphia ($573 billion) and San Diego ($538 billion) and smoked Seattle ($465 billion) and Minneapolis-St. Paul ($292 billion).
However, for buyers, there are two bits of good news.
First, the pace at which home prices are rising appears to be slacking off a bit. This year’s 4.9 percent jump in overall home and condo values is a step down from 2013, when Boston area real estate values hot up 8.1 percent, or $46.5 billion.
Second, inventory, or the number of homes on the market, also shows signs of improving, with 8.2 percent more listings this year compared to 2013.
Great story from Boston Magazine
Boston Ranks as a Market to Watch in 2015
After analyzing real estate markets around the country, both Boston and Middlesex County are listed in the top 10 housing markets to watch next year.
Real estate search database Trulia has released their 2015 Housing Outlook report, including the top 10 housing markets to watch in 2015. After analyzing market potentials and trends throughout the country, researchers selected 10 markets with the capacity for real estate growth in the upcoming year. Factors like job growth, vacancy rate, and the amount of millennials ready to enter the work force influenced their report.
According to the report:
Our 10 markets to watch have strong fundamentals for housing activity. These include solid job growth, which fuels housing demand, and a low vacancy rate, which spurs construction. We gave a few extra points to markets with a higher share of millennials. These young adults are getting back to work and that will drive household formation and rental demand. We didn’t include markets where prices looked at least 5% overvalued in our latest Bubble Watch report.
Here are the Top 10 Housing Markets to Watch in 2015, in alphabetical order:
• Boston, MA
• Dallas, TX
• Fresno, CA
• Middlesex County, MA
• Nashville, TN
• New York, NY-NJ
• Raleigh, NC
• Salt Lake City, UT
• San Diego, CA
• Seattle, WA
Despite low inventory rates, over-asks, and bidding wars, the Boston market has a slue of new luxury apartments aimed at millennials, who are predicted to be one of the highest groups of home buyers this year.
Good post by Scott at Boston.com. Check out the gorgeous renderings.
Take that, rising rents. More than 800 new apartments are poised to take shape near Boston’s waterfront in a massive project so large it might just help rein in the Hub’s runaway rents.
Developers of the $600 million One Seaport Square broke ground Friday on the 1.5-million-square-foot project, just across the street from Fan Pier and the new ICA in Boston’s Seaport/Innovation District.
A centerpiece of the new development will be a pair of new towers, 20 and 22 stories tall, that will be packed with 832 apartments ranging from tiny “innovation units” to spacious luxury digs.
Slated to open in 2017, the new development will put more new apartments on the market in Boston than any single project in decades.
The two towers, named VIA and The Benjamin, will come with an array of shared spaces, including gardens, places to grill, lounges, and a heated outdoor pool overlooking the skyline.
“When you bring so many new apartments, the market will adjust,” predicts Vivien Li, executive director of the Boston Harbor Association and a long-time observer of development along the city’s waterfront. “What we may find is that rents may start to level out.”
The new development will also feature oodles of new places to eat and shop, with 250,000 square feet of retail space planned for the largest shopping and dining venue yet in the Seaport. Coming attractions include the upscale ShowPlace ICON Theater, a Kings Bowl, and an Equinox fitness center.
The project is the work of a trio of high-powered developers. Veteran tower builder John Hynes, son of legendary newscaster Jack Hynes and grandson of one of Boston’s influential mayors of the last century, snapped up the sprawling collection of parking lots nearly a decade ago.
He later teamed up with the Berkshire Group and WS Development, which has rolled out a number of suburban life-style centers, including The Street in Newton and Legacy Place in Dedham.
“One Seaport Square will be our largest project in Boston,” Hynes said in a statement. “It will set the tone for just how dynamic this new neighborhood will be in all categories: commercial, residential, shopping, dining and entertainment. We cannot wait to bring it to life.”
While Hynes and his partners are mum on what rents will be for the new apartments, the developers say they aren’t looking to do just another luxury rental high-rise, but are aiming to have a wider range of apartments.
The innovation units in particular, will be aimed at young professionals, with relatively tiny apartments featuring just a few hundred square feet of space aimed at offering a more reasonable rent. But the luxury apartments are likely to draw a wide range of prospective tenants, including wealthy empty nesters attracted to the cachet of Boston’s vibrant and growing waterfront, Li said.
The apartments will join a neighborhood that’s seeing billions in new construction take shape, from office and hotel towers, to luxury condos and a $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Just across the street at Fan Pier, waterfront developer Joe Fallon has been selling dozens of multimillion-dollar condos.
“The market has really made this area hot,” Li said.