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S&P/Case-Shiller: Greater Boston Values Up 10%

Good article by Chris Reidy below. November S&P/Case-Shiller numbers certainly forecast year end figures we have been reporting of Boston neighborhood sales prices up an average of 8% in 2013. The most important result of this good news is in the last paragraph which does follow what we are hearing and experiencing in the field. Sales are moderating and even declining in some neighborhoods while prices do continue to rise.

S&P/Case-Shiller: Greater Boston home values up nearly 10 percent

By Chris Reidy / Globe Staff / January 28, 2014

Home values in Greater Boston rose 9.8 percent in November on a year-to-year comparison basis, according to a report on the US housing market issued Tuesday by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The widely watched indices tracks repeat home sales around the United States.

The Boston area’s annual rate of 9.8 percent for November represented an improvement of 1.2 percentage points from the previous month. In the 20-city universe that the indices track, Boston was one of nine cities where values accelerated on an annual basis.

From October to November, home values in Greater Boston rose 1.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices added.

The November report included a statement from David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, commenting on the latest US results.

“Beginning June 2012, we saw a steady rise in year-over-year increases,” Blitzer said. “November continued that trend with another strong month although the rate of increase slowed.”

The Warren Group and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors are expected to issue separate reports on the state’s housing markets later this week. Those reports will focus on Massachusetts home sales in December.

In reporting on November sales, Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. stated: “This has been a banner year in local real estate, but one with a focus on rising prices. The sales volume growth has been more restrained and now we see a modest decline. We’re seeing the same thing in Massachusetts that the rest of the country is experiencing: a slight slowdown in home sales, driven by increasing interest rates and tight supply.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at [email protected].

© Copyright 2014 Globe Newspaper Company.
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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?


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Boston Inventory…Empty!

Curbed Boston and Bates by the Numbers post below.

Inventory in the Boston Condo Market Continues to Straddle “E’

Tuesday, October 1, 2013, by Brenda Phan
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 you would not otherwise see. And check out his new ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets.


Compared to a year ago, inventory in the nine neighborhoods is down around 14%, but one bedroom condominiums are the least available, down 30%. In a city of singletons that’s not good news. It may be a wise idea to wave the one-bedroom driver into the pit area for a fill up.

Currently, there are only 82 one bedrooms available for sale in the nine markets, yet in September, (and not all the numbers are in) MLS has recorded that 90 one-bedroom condominiums went into “pending” status, or in other words found buyers. Just two years ago to the day, there were 283 one-bedrooms available, about 3.5 times more.

That’s less than a one month supply. As a reminder we need a three month supply to have anything resembling a neutral market. So guess, what, we don’t have anything approaching a neutral market.

I went to an open house for a Brookline 1BR, priced at $315,000. and the brokers could have done better charging admission in lieu of a commission. There had to be 30 people to view that property, off season, and an open house time of 2:30pm.

I guess the bump of interest rates has had little effect.

In September, the median price of a 1BR, is over $400,000. That’s up from $361,000 for September 2012.

Of course the pickings for a one bedroom can get even slimmer.

You want to super-size that one bedroom, something over 700 square feet. Well, less than ½ the 1BR available have it, (as well down to 39 from 74 a year ago) and the median price jumps to $535,000. But at least you have twice the opportunity of finding one with garage parking, as only 20 available condos have it.

Want it at a reasonable price? Then now is definitely not the time to be looking at Back Bay one bedrooms, there median price for on market is$649,000. Hey, I could buy a parking space and sleep in it for that kind of money.

Where is one bedroom inventory the lowest? America’s new hip neighborhood, Somerville, where there are only two available. Last month in Somerville, five went “pending”, meaning there is less than ½ month supply.



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Boston Inventory Levels

As an interested observer of the downtown Boston real estate market I am amazed at the contrast with our Cape market. The urgency and temperment of the Boston market is so different than ours as it is being driven so clearly by inventory levels.

Condo inventory is down in Boston (all neighborhoods combined) by 32% over last year at this time to 954 condos available for sale. Days on market are down 32% too to 69 days on market.

24 Worcester Sq #2, 2B/2B, 823 sf, $575K
24 Worcester Sq #2, 2B/2B, 823 sf, $575K


I remember the days of 300+ listings in the South End and Sundays where there were literally 250+ open houses…in the South End alone. Boy are those days over. There are currently 40 condo listings in the South End as of August 15. Sales remain strong and with the average days on market of 44 properties are going on the market and off the market very quickly.





492 Beacon St #T, 2B/2B, 1,353 sf, $899K
492 Beacon St #T, 2B/2B, 1,353 sf, $899K



In the Back Bay inventory is down 24% to 91 and days on market are down 43% to 75. There are 91 condos on the market down from 120 last year at this time. It’s interesting that  the market value of these fewer condos is $182M, greater than last years total valuation. Average asking prices are higher.





47 Mt Vernon St #47, 2B/3B,  2,350 sf, $1.299M
47 Mt Vernon St #47, 2B/3B, 2,350 sf, $1.299M


Beacon Hill numbers are astonishing. Inventory is down 29% to 25 condos available on The Hill. Interestingly average days on market are still 131 about the same as last year.





48 Monument Sq #B, 1B/1B,  511 sf, $419K
48 Monument Sq #B, 1B/1B, 511 sf, $419K



In Charlestown condo inventory for sale is down 50% from last year to 50 condos for sale. Average days on market are down 51% to 45.





Q2 sales numbers were down in most Boston neighborhoods…from -1% in South Boston to -39% on Beacon Hill. It will be interesting to see which neighborhoods have the most resilience when it comes to falling sales numbers when we get out first peak at third quarter reporting at the end of September.

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Changes In The Old Neighborhood

Interesting story on regarding the wonderful wooden house on Taylor Street in the South End right off of Dwight Street . Hopefully things will work out to everyones satisfaction as it is a very special property and one which many south-enders are so familiar with.

Neighbors on Taylor St. House Demolition: Conditions Were Unsafe

The original stop work order put on the 8-10 Taylor Street wooden house property was because of environmental and project concerns, neighbors say. Now, it’s related to an entirely different issue.

Imagine sitting in your home one morning and feeling the entire floor shake. That’s how Taylor Street resident Louane Hann was notified of the construction happening on her street last Tuesday.

“I was working from home, and all of a sudden, I felt the earth move,” she said. “There was a guy with a backhoe and a guy with a hose, and they were ripping the house down.”

Hann said neither she nor anyone else in the neighborhood was notified that construction would begin at the wooden house at 8-10 Taylor Street, and that it would involve demolition of the building.

“We get notices about someone getting a roof deck you can’t even see half the time, and no one got a notice about this,” she said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Couple the lack of notice with the complete surprise that the building, which neighbors thought had been approved for a renovation and addition, was being completely demolished. And the day of demolition left dust everywhere, debris on neighbors’ porches and properties, and even broke a window at a home next door, said nearby residents.

“During the demolition I saw two kids standing outside watching, and I remember thinking, ‘Is it safe for those kids to be breathing that?” Hann said. “All of these old homes have lead in the paint,” she said.

Neighbors said they called Boston’s Enviornmental Department to complain about the mess and to voice the worry that the old home contained lead paint that was now swirling through the air on their street.

Through those calls to the city, the Landmarks Commission learned that an extra wall on the property was demolished that was not included in the project’s original plans, the home’s east wall.

A stop work order was posted on Friday, Jan. 25th and the owner was asked to appear at a public meeting of the Landmarks Commission on Tuesday.

By Monday, Jan. 28th, the project’s architect Scott Slarsky said the city’s Inspectional Services team had come through the site and determined there was no asbestos or lead paint, and lifted the stop work order due to the environmental concerns. But that still left a stop work order related to the site’s demolition of the property’s east wall.

Property owner Ramy Rizkalla said contractors and inspectors found the east wall was bowing in, it was rotting, and there was termite damage, and a structural engineer ruled the wall was unsafe to leave on the property. Rizkalla said the decision to take down the wall was approved by the city’s Inspectional Services department. However, it is the Landmarks Commission that requested the hearing on Tuesday.

“Though they aren’t going to comment on the design of the east wall, they did want to review the rebuilding, so that’s what we’re going in for on Tuesday,” Rizkalla said.

So for now, the project is still on hold until Tuesday night’s meeting of the South End Landmarks Commision. The meeting will take place at 6:45 at Boston City Hall, room 801.

But for neighbor Hann and other neighbors who feel like they were fed some kind of bait and switch between the plans that were presented to them and the actual demolition, the damage is already done.

“We’ve lived there about 20 years and really value that house as one of two remaining wooden houses in the South End,” said Hann, who wasn’t in favor of the orignal plans to begin with because she felt certain modern elements in the design didn’t fit in with the neighborhood. The demolition of the extra wall adds insult to injury, she said, calling it “obnoxious and insulting.”

“Now it’s really heartbreaking to look at that house,” she said.

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The Goode and Farmer Report – Boston Q1 Update

Excellent news for Boston is that condominium sales rose in the first quarter when compared with last year. All Boston neighborhoods combined saw an 8% increase in sales from 572 last year to 616 this year. Increased sales meant increased dollar volume in most neighborhoods. South Boston leads the way  in percentage increase with a 32% increase from last year to $33M in sales volume. . All Boston neighborhoods combined saw a 5% increase in sales volume from $321M to $338M.

The average sales price for a condo in Back Bay decreased 4% to $1,263K but the number of units sold increased 6% to 72.

On Beacon Hill the average sales price for a condo decreased 10% to $860K but the number of condos sold increased wildly by 30% to 30. Interestingly total days on market decreased by 37% to 114 days versus 180 days last year.

In the South End the number of units sold increased by 21% to 78 condo properties, also a very strong but not surprising increase, given the demand we are seeing in the neighborhood.

As mentioned South Boston saw a 32% increase in sales volume representing 19% increase in sale units. The average sales price increased 8% to $410K from $379K last year. If this were a competition, South Boston takes first place with these numbers… and average days on market decreased by 30% which is yet another indication of the demand for South Boston properties.

In general with sales up everywhere, and inventory still very low, the supply and demand dynamic is firmly in place. We are in the key Spring selling season and inventory is needed to maintain the strong sales pace we have seen so far.




South End Condo Prices Up 6%

As of 10.31.2011, average condo prices are up 6% year-over-year in the South End, according to MLSPIN. This is stunning figure given the real estate headlines day in and day out in local and national media! This is a very sticky figure that has remained steady for most of the year.

What is behind this figure? The average price of a condo sold year-to-date in the South End is $667K which represents a 6% increase over the average $630K sale price in 2010. Other figures include: a median price of $545K, which represents a 4% increase over last year’s median price of $545K; total number of sales year-to-date of 412, which is 5% lower than in 2010 and the total dollar volume of condo sales is $274M – just about flat with last year.

And most other downtown Boston neighborhoods are maintaining their value as well. Lucky for all of us, Boston remains resilient in this stormy real estate environment. Relative to the rest of the country, Boston still rocks!

In future posts, I will examine these statistics in depth and discuss what they mean now and for the future of our real estate markets.


Eight Exceptional Properties and 180 Exceptional Agents

This happened a few weeks ago, but still worth talking about. Picture 180 real estate agents from downtown, Wellesley, Arlington, Newton, Weston Cambridge and Brookline. In town cars, Mercedes buses and on foot. Give them a chance to tour eight phenomenal properties in Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the South End – from $1.8M to $6.3M – and you have a wonderfully dynamic mix of properties and personalities. Ken Tutunjian was the creative director of the tour and Jeffrey Heighton was the Beacon Hill office host.

And I was transportation director, go figure. You try coordinating six vehicles picking up and dropping off 180 agents over three hours at eight different addresses who were all hungry and needed restrooms by 11AM. Amazingly, the tour was a smashing success.


The goal was to group some of our best luxury properties so that a broad assortment of agents from downtown and the near metro west burbs could see a remarkable representation of downtown luxury inventory. Transport them in luxury, arm them with pertinent information, give them guided tours of each home and of course, provide a sumptuous luncheon at Smith & Wollensky’s sponsored by Boston.

My personal favorite was 129 Charles Street. It was the only single family residence on Charles Street. What a surprise! A totally reworked interior, very modern, very open and unbelievably sophisticated – all inside a very traditional Charles Street brick exterior. $4.75M