Boston Market Watch – Beantown Realtors See Positive Signs In The Market



Boston is famous for many things, including the site of the “original” Tea Party and the Old North Church which posted Paul Revere’s warning of impending invasion to the citizens of the fledgling country we call home.

real estate Boston

Boston Financial District © Bastos - Fotolia.com

Take Me Out To The Game!

It’s also home to the incomparable Boston Celtics basketball franchise which gave birth to legends such as Larry Bird and Shaquille O’Neal.  Bostonians are very proud of historic Fenway Park, which opened in 1912 and is one of the oldest Major League Baseball Stadiums in the country which is still in use. The Boston Red Sox baseball team, which was founded in 1901 as part of the American League, plays there to this day.

A top rated team, the Boston Red Sox has had its share of troubles. The team saw great success until trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918. It’s at this point that the team began to experience what superstitious ballplayers like to term the “Curse of the Bambino” which lasted 86 years, they say, until the team’s 6th world championship in 2004.

Real Estate

According to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, new listings statewide were “down 6.2% for detached homes and 16.6% for condominiums.” Sales, however grew 10.0% for detached homes and 8.9% for condominiums. This is promising, as the median sales price grew by 1.7% to $294,950 for single family homes and 5.4% to $272,000 for condominiums, indicating that higher prices are not keeping interested buyers out of the market.

September 2011’s inventory of condominiums was down by 8.0%, however a slight increase of 1.7% was seen for single-family properties.

MAR stated that “recent reports from the broader economy have dispelled the story of a double-dip recession.” The Association credits the improved outlook to a slight increase (2.5%) in the GDP and an improvement in the national job market, as well as the expected implementation of phase two of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) for mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie.

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index lists Boston at 152.83, as of August of this year, a slight increase from last month’s level at 152.50 and down from 155.61 in 2010, placing the level at .22% higher than last month and only -1.79% from the same time last year.

The Boston condominium market is doing well, reflecting an increase in sales of 22.5% from the 3rd quarter of last year. The luxury market also saw an increase in sale of 27.6% from 2010 numbers.

Yes, the state has grown a strong 10 percent in sales, for the previous quarter, however Boston “smokes” the rest of the state with sales growth of 22.5% during the same time period!

In an interview by Boston.com, Larry Rideout (Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty CEO) explained how the company’s focus on the luxury real estate market has a positive effect on the market “as a whole”.

Rideout maintains that sellers within the broad market are feeling confident enough to sell their first homes and seek out properties within the “upper echelon” of the city. In Rideout’s opinion, “The money has started to step off the sidelines”.

Future of Home Ownership

Proposed legislation in Washington requiring that the majority of buyers in Boston and across the country put 20% down towards the purchase of a home has many Realtors concerned about the impact on the markets. MAR is preparing to argue against such a move in D.C. due to the hardship that such a proposal could place on prospective buyers, especially in the Boston market, which would mean, for example, that a buyer would need to come up with nearly $80,000 dollars on a home, as the median price of homes in this market is at $417,000.

The foreclosure market appears improved in Boston, as petitions in September fell when compared to the same time a year ago, but appearances can be deceiving. The third quarter saw 4,002 petitions being filed compared to only 2,535 and 2,880 in the first and second quarters. According to Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group, “This indicates banks are moving more aggressively against borrowers who have fallen behind. “In order for the market to recover,” continued Warren, “the glut of foreclosures hanging over the market needs to go through the system.”

Boston, like many other cities across the country has its share of bright spots and problem areas. Ask nearly any realtor and she will tell you that her region has “good areas”, i.e. areas which have a lower foreclosure inventory and strong sales activity, and “not so good areas” – individuals buying and/or investing in the Boston market need to find a realtor who specializes in the region (sometimes even the neighborhood) they are interested in to obtain the most accurate picture of the market.