general info trends

Response To The New York Times Article About Provincetown In The Off Season

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It’s a slow real estate week so I just had to repost this fb comment that Rob Anderson wrote in response to The New York Times Article. It hits every single high point about our incredible little town in the off season. A must read!





Owner/Operator of Canteen and Happy Camper – Provincetown

In response to a December 20, 2015 article in The New York Times by Katharine Q. Seelye

“When others get angry, they scream, they fight, they protest. I write. Here goes. It’s long, I know. I’m sorry. But I hope, by the end, it illustrates an important point. Thanks for indulging me:

A Question of Focus

Six years ago, a reporter from The New York Times traveled to Provincetown in the beginning of January and declared in the newspaper of record that “even in winter, Provincetown shines.” While reporter Matt Gross found himself “stunned” by the relative silence of Commercial Street — and, honestly, who hasn’t? — after poking around our little village, he found a town not in desolation, but “hibernation”: quiet but lively, with guest houses offering “bargain” deals, restaurants serving “fantastic” fare, galleries showing “legendary” art, and stores offering “jaunty” goods. In fact, by spending time at the tip of Cape Cod in the winter, Gross seemed to have gained a new appreciation of the place, to have found something special and unique and unexpected. He stumbled upon “a land of quiet bargains, where simpler pleasures emerge from the frenzy of summertime.”

Today, the paper returns to our town during the same time of year. But what Gross had seen as a “laid-back scene” six years ago, Katharine Seelye now labels a “deserted,” “hallowing out” “Potemkin village.” In Seelye’s Provincetown, stillness is emptiness, quietness is vacantness, and resiliency is desperation. Seelye took that same drive down deserted Commercial Street — but then opted out of the pesky “poking around” part. “There are the store facades and about five people,” as she quotes one resident as saying. The images accompanying the piece drive home Seelye’s view of our town as one in distress: a clichéd picture of a boarded up second home; a clichéd picture of a gray, weary looking resident; a cliché picture of two men playing pool in an empty-looking bar. (Look, I get it: I spent 10 years in the halls of newspapers and opinion magazines. Writers pick an argument and drive it home. But that only works when the argument is solid, and that takes real work and real reporting to ensure. Not clichés.)

Ostensibly, Seelye’s article is a news item about a measure our selectman passed last week that lowers taxes on year round residents and raises those on second homeowners. If you were to only read this article and not actually visit our town and talk to the folks here — which, of course, covers the vast majority of New York Times readers — you’d walk away thinking two things: that this is the talk of the town, and that this is the only thing we are doing in Provincetown to combat the negative effects of living in a seasonal economy. And, to be sure, I’m sure second homeowners are spending a lot of time talking about it.

But it is so far from what is actually happening on the ground here. As a restaurant owner and active participant in the life of our town, I’m fortunate to be able to interact with a lot of people day in and day out. I can say that over the past week, not one person has brought up the tax issue in the course of conversation. It’s just not that big of a deal. It’s not a game changer.

Here *is* what I have heard, and here’s what I have seen this winter:

Business is up in Provincetown. One business owner who has operated here in town for decades recently told me that he’s had the busiest December weekends he’s ever had. Weekends in particular are lively. In addition, a town that usually closes in the late fall, is making its first push to stay open until January. There’s life around here. That push convinced my partner and I to keep our restaurant open for an extra month this year. Not only that, we decided to go full out and put on a holiday market in December and January this year (more on that later). Guesthouses are reporting high booking rates. We have fireworks, a polar bear plunge, and great shows to look forward to in a few weeks.

This year, a new town manager, David B. Panagore, is breathing new life into our city government. I am only speaking from the outside, but he seems to have energized his (already hard working) staff. He’s emphasizing action and new ideas, decorum and respect, ingenuity over despair. There’s a sense of hope and optimism for the first time in a long time. In addition, we have an energetic board of selectmen who are actively trying to solve our town’s problems, coming up with new solutions instead of accepting the status quo as the only option.

Provincetown 365, a group of energetic, hard working citizens, just turned one year old. In 12 months, the group restored a beloved piece of art on our pier, re-focused our town’s conversation about housing, nudged along new forms of transportation to our town, re-imagined our streets, brought about new zoning bylaws, and, more importantly, gave people hope that things can change and get done around here if we just put our minds to it. It has started conversations that are bound to snowball and emerge as new plans of action.

We have an emerging economy of young entrepreneurs and leaders in the Outer Cape. Over the past few years, more and more young people have opened up businesses in town, and in Truro: Chequessett Chocolate, Salty Market, The Canteen/ Happy Camper, Pop+Dutch, B.xclusive, Mayflower Trolley, Kiss and Makeup Provincetown, KoHi Coffee Company, Salt House Inn/ Eben House, Nor’East Beer Garden (I’m missing many: sorry). One of our own, Julian Cyr, is running for state senate. At the holiday market here at the Canteen, we brought together a handful of young local artisans and entrepreneurs who live in town and are looking to grow their businesses: Cook’s Organics, Bleat Media, 2of2, Breakwater Goods. We have an amazing young theater troupe in the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble. We have amazing young fellows at the Fine Arts Work Center. If you don’t see all of this vibrant energy, you’re not looking very hard.

In general, people are thinking productively and proactively about how to fix our town’s ills. There’s talk of re-opening our high school. More and more people are thinking about housing — for our community, for our workers, for our homeless population. The governor’s office visited town just last week. Tom Donegan is focusing town on drug abuse and addiction. We’re talking about broadband. We’re talking about the soul and future of our town.

Last, I want to touch upon something that I can’t prove with examples and statistics, but I believe it to be true. This winter, there is a feeling of community and goodwill around town that I haven’t felt before. I felt it most palpably at our holiday market over the past two weekends. Every slice of Provincetown showed up and mingled: wide-eyed kids meeting Santa; seniors happy to share a glass of wine and a tale or two; school kids singing carols; hipsters hanging out on a lazy Sunday; locals enjoying the chance to share time together after a busy season; tourists from up Cape and Boston looking for gifts; fishermen and their families; teenagers just looking for something to do; shop owners happy to have something different to eat; folks who haven’t celebrated the holidays in years, cracking the tiniest of smiles. I saw this Provincetown — and I felt it. It felt warm and hopeful and optimistic. It felt diverse and resilient and strong. Everyone mingled together because they wanted to mingle together. We want to be a community. We want to know each other and support each other. Not bicker about each other online, or fret about each other’s tax breaks.

Any of this would have been a great opportunity for a newspaper to write a story about a quirky, vibrant community making things work in new exciting ways on the Outer Cape. About the many of us working day in and day out trying hard to cultivate the karass. (Google it.) About a new set of ideas and leaders. Instead, we get an article focused on a small new law. Taxes. Controversy. Neighbors against neighbors. A flyby.

Over the next few days, months, years, we as a community get to chose what to focus on, too. Let’s be mindful and spend our time and energy wisely. Let’s write our own intricate, complicated and beautiful story for ourselves, instead of letting this one define us down


Sales Up!

The KCM (Keeping Current Matters) crew is great at visuals. This one represents the general national trend toward rising prices

Sales Up In Almost Every Price Range

Sales Up In Almost Every Price Range | Keeping Current Matters
The National Association of Realtors’ most recent Existing Home Sales Report revealed that home sales were up rather dramatically over last year in five of the six price ranges they measure.Only those homes priced under $100,000 showed a decline (-10.1%). The decline in this price range points to the lower inventory of distressed properties available for sale and speaks to the strength of the market.Every other category showed a minimum increase of at least 9%, with sales in the $250,000- $500,000 range up 21.2%!

Here is the breakdown:

Percent Change in Sales by Price Range | Keeping Current Matters

What does that mean to you if you are selling?

Houses are definitely selling. If your house has been on the market for any length of time and has not yet sold, perhaps it is time to sit with your agent and see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today’s market.

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Buyers Brave Snow Banks

Buyers Brave Snow Banks and Cold to Find a Home in Greater Boston

Buyers are braving snowy streets and clambering up slippery steps to look at the relative handful of homes on the market right now, brokers say.
Buyers are braving snowy streets and clambering up slippery steps to look at the relative handful of homes on the market right now, brokers say.



The Alaskan-style winter that has swallowed Greater Boston threatens to deep freeze spring home sales as well.

Droves of buyers are braving snowy streets and clambering up slippery steps to look at the relative handful of homes on the market right now, brokers say.

But sellers who have been gearing up, in some cases for months, to put their homes on the market in March, are now looking to April or even May, according to listing agents.

The one upside is that when the spring market finally takes off, it is expected to sizzle, with frenetic sales activity extending well into the summer – a time when the market typically takes a breather.

“It’s going to go crazy,” said Deborah Heffernan, broker and co-owner of Avenue 3 Real Estate in Arlington, of the projected warmer months. “I have had a number of people who have held back listing their homes because it is physically too challenging. They are dealing with ice dams and you can’t even see outside the property.”

Massachusetts sales dropped 2 percent in January after rising through the fall and holiday season, with a 10 percent jump in sales in December amid a chilly but snow-free month, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

The onset of heavy snow and arctic cold was a key factor, and one that will likely result in another drop in sales for February when those numbers are released in late March.

Buyers have proved to be especially hardy this winter. The few open houses that haven’t been canceled due to epic storms of the last few months regularly have attracted crowds, brokers say.

Redfin’s Nancy McLaughin, listing specialist for the western suburbs, said she was stunned to see an overflow crowd show up at an open house she was putting on in Framingham on a recent snowy Sunday.

“We had 30 people in 90 minutes,” she recalled. “They were traipsing through the snow with the most determined looks on their faces.”

Some sellers are also showing similar grit amid an unrelenting winter that has already broken local records for snowfall.

Hans Brings, an agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, said he is working with sellers in Waltham who were so determined to push forward with their open house that they decided to take municipal snow clearance into their own hands.

The couple, after digging out their driveway, went to work shoveling out the entire street, trying to widen it enough for buyers to drive down without getting stuck, according to Brings.

Streets effectively turned into one-lane roads by towering snow banks on both sides have been a major problem for buyers trying to get out and see homes, Brings noted.

But many other sellers are deciding to put off listing their homes until the snow melts.

McLaughlin said she has had to push out one listing into April as the sellers scramble to deal with water damage caused by ice dams on the roof.

The same thing is happening in Boston as well, said Neda Vander Stoep, an agent in the Back Bay office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

“Many sellers are holding off on listing their properties with the hopes that it will be easier for all to navigate the city as the temps hopefully begin to rise,” she wrote in an email.

In Arlington, Heffernan said she has had clients who were ready to put their homes on the market on April and are now looking to May instead.

Sellers are concerned that buyers simply won’t be able to get a full feel of their homes and what they look like, she said.

One would-be seller in Boston decided to delay for similar reasons, noting buyers wouldn’t be able to see the deck out back, a potential selling point.

“You can’t see the foundations of the house let alone the flowers in the yard,” Heffernan said.

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Southie Leads Development Boom

Another great post by Scott.


Southie Leads Boston’s Development


<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Flickr Creative Commons


By Scott Van Voorhis




Sure, Back Bay and Downtown Crossing may have all the new towers, but when it comes to overall development activity, South Boston is arguably the epicenter of the city’s development boom.

Southie currently has 42 projects either in the planning or approval stage, under construction, or recently opened. Most feature or include new apartment rentals, townhomes, or condos, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s map of the Hub’s development scene.

The developments range from converted churches to brand spanking new buildings. The luxury West Square development at 320 D Street, which is still under construction, includes 259 apartments and 143 parking spaces.

If you throw in another 22 projects happening in the South Boston Waterfront, including the multibillion-dollar Seaport Square development , the number rises to 64 – three times or more than any other city neighborhood.

Not that super hot neighborhoods like the Back Bay (11 projects) and South End (19 projects), are any slouches either.

Back Bay and neighboring Downtown include plans for the three poshest and tallest towers even built in Boston: one still in the planning in Copley Square, and construction underway at the 61-story Four Seasons Tower and the 60-storyMillennium Tower.

“There has been a big shift in our city,” said Tracy Campion of Campion & Co., the brokerage in charge of the building’s sales. “Back Bay and Beacon Hill are bursting out of their seams.”

Other neighborhoods are also seeing a big surge in development.

East Boston may now be one of the hottest new neighborhoods in terms of big projects outside of South Boston.

A trio of grand waterfront developments is in the works for the neighborhood’s once hardscrabble waterfront, including 400 new apartments and condos at Clippership Wharf.

Charlestown’s real estate market heated up a couple decades ago, much like Eastie’s is doing now. The Charlestown boom continues, with plans for 85 new residential units and public space on the first floor at Pier 5.

Fenway is another neighborhood in the middle of a dramatic transformation, from a gritty student alcove to one of the more exciting places to live in the city.

With building sites scarce in the densely packed neighborhood, developers are pushing to span the Massachusetts Turnpike with ambitious air-rights projects.

Developer John Rosenthal is lining up financing for Fenway Center , a $550 million apartment and retail project proposed for an air-rights platform over the Massachusetts Turnpike by Fenway. Plans for Parcel 7 air-rights include a seven-story residential building and a 22-story residential and office tower.

Near the Hynes Convention Center and the Berklee College of Music, New York-based Peebles Corp. is pushing plans for a $330 million air-rights project at Parcel 13, including 88 condos, a hotel and shops.

Often overlooked, Dorchester now has 20 major projects in the works, including a proposal for for 275 residential units and 143 parking spaces at 25 Morrissey Boulevard by the JFK/UMass T station, while St. Kevin’s redevelopment, now underway, features 80 affordable units.

Brighton has 21, including 1505 Commonwealth Ave., a proposal to convert an office building into 85 residential units. Allston’s 15 projects include a new proposal for 87 apartments, ground floor retail, and 66 parking spaces at 37-43 North Beacon Street.

Meanwhile, Roxbury has 20 big projects in the pipeline, a number that includes 102 residential units in two buildings in the first phase of Bartlett Place , along with 16,839 square feet of commercial space and a garage with 130 spaces. When the build out is complete, the entire development will have 323 residences.

Last but not least, Jamaica Plain has 16 new projects, including The Commons at Forest Hills Station, which calls for 283 new residential units at the former Hughes Oil site. Demolition work began last fall.


Boston Is 7th Most Valuable Market

A repost of Scott’s Zillow findings.

 Boston is Nation’s 7th Most Valuable Real Estate Market


Boston’s real estate market jumped $28 billion this year, according to Zillow.
Boston’s real estate market jumped $28 billion this year, according to Zillow.

The Boston Globe

By Scott Van Voorhis Correspondent


Feeling any richer? You should be. The total value of all homes and condos in Greater Boston came in just under the $600 billion mark in 2014, a new report finds.



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.

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Q4 Boston…what to expect


What David Bates thinks about Q4!

Boston Condos in the Last Bit of 2014: What to Expect by Tom Acitelli

Here’s the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub’s housing market to uncover those trends and people you would not otherwise notice.Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

holiday-house_283.jpgIt’s Q4. And while Q4 is packed with holidays, let’s not forget that it’s also chock-full of home sales. Nearly 1,000 Boston condos went under agreement during the fourth quarter of 2013, and sometimes holidays and sales were linked—like last Halloween when 12 Boston condos went under agreement, what a treat. And, on Thanksgiving 2013, twoBoston condos sellers gave thanks as they signed offers with one hand and presumably held drumsticks with the other. Also, while you might have missed the real estate door-buster last Black Friday, four Boston condo buyers didn’t; they put condos under agreement that day.

Even on the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… three Boston condo sellers could be heard countersigning offers. At least that’s what the MLS data shows. Then, on Christmas itself, one Boston condo seller got a present they may not soon forget. It wasn’t an ugly sweater or something to be re-gifted, it was an acceptable sales price, so they wrapped up the paperwork and went on their merry way.

Will Q4 bring joy to Boston-area real estaters in 2014. Why not? There are plenty of reasons to buy this Q4. Interest rates are low; and, for many, new babies and new jobs crank up the home-buying motivation. And let’s not forget that what we often want most in a new year is positive change. Hey, what’s more positive change than a new home? In the last week of 2013, a week where almost nothing of consequence happens for most, 45 Boston condo buyers put units under agreement, guaranteeing their new year would start off on the right foot.

Today’s buyers, who for one reason or another missed the spring market, will note that more Boston condos were available for sale on Oct. 1 than were available for sale on April 1. Additionally, it is highly likely that there will be more Boston condos available on Nov. 1 than were available on May 1. So, if you like selection, put on your condo-buying shoes. Of course, while buyers note more selection, they’ll also note fewer competitors as it’s traditionally a slower time of the sales year—even more reason to buy in Q4 2014.

While there are many reasons to buy this Q4, it would be an injustice not to point out that it can be a great time to sell as well. Last year, 865Boston condo sellers listed their homes for sale in Q4. And, although Q4 is not known for its buyer quantity, it might be remembered for its buyer quality. That’s because the median list price of a Boston condo that went under agreement in December 2013 was $449,000. Heck, the median list price of a Boston condo that went under agreement in April 2013 was only $429,900. Can there be any doubt that holiday décor and wishes for joy, peace and goodwill toward all adds to home values?
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

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Cost Of Waterfront Homes


A fun if not oversimplified post from


What Would You Pay to Live on the Water?

 AUTHOR:, Zillow blog

Millions of Americans dream of one day owning a home on the water, and for good reason: The views are often to die for, the array of activities is seemingly endless and the peace of mind gained by knowing you’ll never have a neighbor on at least one side of your home is priceless. But the very things that make waterfront living so appealing can also make it incredibly expensive.

Nationwide, the typical oceanfront or lakefront single-family home is worth more than double the median value of all homes, and in some communities the median waterfront house could be worth more than 10 times the median value of non-waterfront houses, according to a new analysis by Zillow. The median single-family home in the U.S. is worth about $171,600, while the median waterfront house is valued at $370,900, a waterfront premium of 116.1 percent.

Zillow analyzed the 250 largest communities with at least 100 waterfront homes. The analysis only considered oceanfront homes or those on a lake larger than 10 square kilometers. Homes also had to be within 150 feet of the waterline to be considered waterfront. Riverfront and water-view homes were not considered.

Overall, the most expensive waterfront homes are found in communities in coastal California. Laguna Beach tops this list with median waterfront home values of almost $10.1 million. Malibu ($6.3 million) and Hermosa Beach ($4.8 million) round out the top three.

The most affordable waterfront homes in the country are found in Holiday, FL, with median waterfront home values of $103,000. In the top 10 least valuable waterfront communities, eight of the remaining nine cities with the cheapest waterfront homes are located in Florida. In other words, potential buyers looking for the lowest entry point into the waterfront market should consider the lesser-known cities of the Sunshine State.

Among the largest of the 250 cities analyzed (those with populations of 100,000 or greater), the biggest difference between median non-waterfront single-family home values and median waterfront house values are in Tampa (waterfront premium of 733 percent), Honolulu (waterfront premium of 334.5 percent) and Long Beach, CA (waterfront premium of 321.6 percent).

“The allure of ocean and lakefront living is powerful and undeniable, and millions of homeowners nationwide dream of one day owning a home on the water. But those dreams come at a price,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. “Waterfront properties are both relatively scarce and highly coveted, and that high demand and limited supply leads to higher home prices. Additionally, added insurance, floods, environmental mitigation and infrastructure costs are often part of the tab when buying a waterfront home. Still, as long as buyers understand the added costs and potential headaches, waterfront living is likely to remain one of life’s simple pleasures for many, many years to come.”

Information on all 250 cities analyzed can be found on Zillow Research here.


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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.

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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.

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Four Seasons – Big Prices!

WOW! Great post by Scott.

Coming Attractions: Big Apple Condo Prices

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis

Christian Science tower, rendering.jpg

Take a good look at the glimmering new condo and hotel skyscraper in this rendering.

This 58-story spire, slated to take shape next to the Christian Science Plaza in the Back Bay, is one of a trio of new towers poised to bring New York condo prices to the Hub.

The new $700 million Christian Science tower, recently approved by Boston City Hall, will feature the Four Seasons brand, with 180 super-luxury condos on the top forty floors. Construction is expected to kick off next year, with a planned 2017 opening.

The new Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing, now under construction, will hit 56 stories.

And Don Chiofaro’s proposed new harborside tower complex would top out at 55 stories, crowned by 120 multimillion-dollar units.

There’s talk of these new skyline-topping condos fetching $4,000 or even $5,000 a square foot.

That’s double or more what the most expensive condos are selling for right now in Boston, with a penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental holding the record after fetching more than $13 million a few years ago.

Double that number and you get an idea of what the future may hold for Boston’s already crazy condo market – penthouses overlooking vast stretches of Eastern Massachusetts selling for $25 million and up.

OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Kevin Ahearn, chief executive of Otis & Ahearn, a top Boston luxury condo marketing and brokerage firm, says we will just have to wait and see how prices shake out.

Still, these super-luxury condos atop Boston’s bejeweled skyline will be in a league of their own.

“These new towers will offer five-star living and drop dead views,” Ahearn says. “It’s alpha luxury and it will create a new category.”

The new skyscrapers biggest draw, besides sheer luxury, will be their height. While 58-story towers are no big deal by New York standards, they are a very big deal in the Hub.

The tallest condo towers in Boston currently max out after 40 or so stories. Not bad, but still shrimps by Big Apple standards.