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Cheryl Marsh

Boston Airbnb regulations target tenants, investors renting per night

Rules largely spare owner-occupied properties

By Tom Acitelli  Updated 

Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

The Boston City Council voted overwhelmingly on June 13 to impose new regulations on home-sharing sites such as Airbnb that operate in the city.

The 11-2 vote ensures that the chamber could override any veto from Mayor Marty Walsh, though such a veto is unlikely as Walsh has called for reining in the use of such sites.

The new regulations target tenants and investors who rent out apartments on a per-night basis. The rules largely spare smaller owner-occupied properties such as two- and three-family homes. Units in those can still be rented out if the owner is there.

The regulations also establish a city registry for short-term rental hosts, who will have to pay a $200 fee to join it. That registry will be publicly available, ostensibly making it easier for residents to know who or what is renting out space in their neighborhoods through Airbnb.

The June 13 vote caps months of contentious debate on the subject, and brings Boston more in line with neighboring Cambridge as far as Airbnb regulations. Proponents of the rules say that Airbnb and the like drive up cities’ already-high housing costs. Opponents say the regulations rob tenants and investors of extra income.

Enforcement is expected to be an issue in Boston, where any number of units might be rented out through Airbnb every night. The rules take effect January 1, 2019.

We will add to this article as reaction comes in.

Airbnb released this statement after the vote:

For two years Airbnb and our Boston hosts have worked closely with the Mayor and members of the City Council to share helpful data and collaborate on fair home sharing policy. Today’s disappointing vote is proof that our community’s feedback and concerns were not heard. The new ordinance unfortunately creates a system that violates the privacy of our hosts, and prevents Boston families from making much-needed extra income in one of the country’s most expensive cities. We’re hopeful there will be an ongoing discussion on these topics so that our community can continue to fight for their ability to share their homes and make ends meet.

Hospitality trade group the Massachusetts Lodging Association, which has supported new regulations on Airbnb, sent out this statement:

Today, Mayor Walsh and the Boston City Council demonstrated true leadership by acting to protect Boston from exploitation at the hands of wealthy, out-of-town interests who have been buying up thousands of housing units in order to turn them into illegal hotels. Today’s action preserves the rights of real home-sharers while reining in the bad actors who are contributing to Boston’s skyrocketing housing costs and wreaking havoc on many of our neighborhoods.

Now, the state legislature must act to ensure that Airbnb pays its fair share of taxes and abides by a common set of health, safety and non-discrimination rules across the Commonwealth.

Mayor Marty Walsh does plan to sign the legislation into law.

Mayor Marty Walsh@marty_walsh

My goal in regulating short-term rentals is to responsibly preserve affordable housing while still allowing Bostonians to benefit from this new industry. I look forward to signing the legislation & continue monitoring impacts to ensure it serves its purpose in our neighborhoods.

 

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    City Plaza To Get Beer Gardens And Puppy Wednesday

    City Plaza To Get Beer Gardens And Puppy Wednesday

    BOSTON, MA — Starting soon, the overlook area on City Hall Plaza will transform into something called "The Patios" complete with a daily beer garden, ice cream, mini-golf, and puppies. Yes. Puppies.

    It's part of a a three year plan put together by Boston Garden Development Corp and the City of Boston to revitalize the plaza at City Hall and create "a vibrant welcome public space." The city contracted Boston Garden Development Corp, a subsidiary of Delaware North to oversee the effort.

    And the summer Pop Up opens on May 4 and will be there through August with special events and food trucks

    The area will feature a beer garden from Wachusett Brewing open daily, ice cream from Honeycomb Creamery from Cambridge mini-golf, a mobile book program from Boston Public Library and picnic promotions from Boston Public Market.

    "The Patios project is a flexible public space that brings a scale of intimacy to a place famously the opposite," said Smith in a statement.The city commissioned Sculptor Jeff Smith to help design the area, including an art installation entryway and patio design made of local, reclaimed wood that will display a Boston sign. Smith is a sculptor and filmmaker who built the 'Smallest House' in the World and is now on a mission to popularize the perfect shape. He has created sculpture using salvaged material for some three decades, according to his website.

    So when will the beer garden be open? Every day. Wachusett will rotate through their selection of beer on tap and also feature several guest brewery tap takeovers to bring variety to those who visit.

    WACHUSETT Beer Garden Hours 

    • MONDAY-WEDNESDAY: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. 
    • THURSDAY + FRIDAY: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 
    • SATURDAY + SUNDAY: noon to 10 p.m. 

    But you're here for the puppies, aren't you?

    Those fuzzy adorable ones will be brought to City Plaza by Shultz's Guest House, a 501c3 dog rescue shelter, based in Dedham. Its mission is to rescue lost, homeless and abandoned dogs in the southern part of the country; to provide for the medical care, sheltering, and transport; and to focus on adoption of healthy puppies and dogs.

    Each Wednesday, "Wag Wednesday" from noon to 2 p.m. you can come play with some of their furry friends and learn more about their adoption process.

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      Beige Book Report April 2018 First District Boston

      FederalReserve.gov

      Residential Real Estate
      Heading into spring, residential real estate results in the First District continued to reflect sellers' markets. Closed sales for single family homes and for condos were up in Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island, while other areas experienced moderate decreases. (Vermont reported combined results for single family homes and condos. All First District areas but Connecticut reported changes from February 2017 to February 2018; a technical issue caused December 2017 to be the most recent data from Connecticut.)

      Because of ongoing inventory shortages, all reporting areas but Vermont reported increases in median sale prices for both single family homes and condos. A contact from Maine pointed out that negotiations over multiple offers may be fueling higher median sale prices: "multiple-offer situations [are] happening on a regular basis, especially on properties at $250,000 or less." Inventory dropped by double-digit percentages year-over-year across all area markets. A contact in Massachusetts noted that "inventory is so low and demand so high that many low- and moderate-income home buyers are being left on the outside looking in."

      Notwithstanding the prospect of rising interest rates, contacts cited eager buyer populations and were optimistic about activity levels in coming months.

      Commercial Real Estate
      Reports from First District commercial real estate contacts were mixed, but positive on balance. Office leasing demand remained strong in Boston, especially in the urban core, leading to further increases in rents. Providence saw stable, healthy office leasing activity and modest upward pressure on rents. Office leasing remained slow in the Portland area and weakened further in Hartford. Industrial and warehouse space enjoyed robust demand in most of the First District, with the exception of Connecticut. A Portland contact reported that industrial rents in that city increased 20 percent from a year ago in response to demand from diverse users including small manufacturers, while a Boston contact said that demand for retail fulfillment centers had driven up industrial rents in the Boston metro area.

      Nonetheless, contacts say that both industrial and office construction have been restrained by the fact that building costs remain high relative to rents. Multifamily apartment construction was expected to slow moving forward amid slower or flat rent growth in most areas. By contrast, condominium development activity increased in both Boston and Portland. Investment sales activity was stable at a slow to modest pace depending on location. Two Boston contacts perceived small increases in capitalization rates for office properties that were seen as consistent with increases in interest rates. Commercial real estate contacts were optimistic on balance.

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        North Station-to-Seaport District ferry could launch in the fall

        Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

        Curbed Boston: By Tom Acitelli  

        The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and a handful of private companies, including Vertex, are working toward launching weekday ferry service from Lovejoy Wharf near North Station to the Seaport District-slash-South Boston waterfront.

        The authority has issued a request for proposals to underwrite the service for a year, with an eye toward extending it for three additional years. If the authority can line up the private funding—and it looks like it can—then service could start in late August or September.

        It’s not clear what the price of a commute would be, but the effort would utilize what one authority official described as the region’s “blue highway”—its waterways and harbor—which are far, far less clogged with traffic than its real highways.

        The ferry service would also be the latest big change in the area around North Station. Stay tuned.

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          Boston in springtime: Photographic reminders of city's beauty as winter holds on

           

          By Tom Acitelli  

          Curbed Boston Newsletter

          A little late March snowfall can’t stop time: Spring has technically arrived in Boston, and soon springtime weather will as well.

          Here are several photographic reminders of just how gorgeous the city can look.


          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ The Public Garden tulips will soon bloom in oceans of red, orange, and yellow, including around the famed statue of George Washington.

          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ Back Bay is one of the best Boston neighborhoods for inhaling springtime. And it’s pretty historic, too.

          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ Speaking of especially beautiful neighborhoods in springtime, Beacon Hill is probably the city’s most aesthetically pleasing year-round, what with its narrow lanes, brick sidewalks, antique townhouses, window boxes, and the occasional cobblestone street.

          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ The South End, too, with its Victorians and vegetation, can provide walks to savor when the blooming starts.

          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ The Charles River Esplanade provides not only a fantastic hangout for the warmer months, but fantastic views of Cambridge across the Charles River. Here’s Harvard from Boston.

          Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

          ↑ Can’t go wrong in the spring with Boston Common, what with its hidden gems and its many activities (swan boats, anyone?).

          Lorna Wu 2/Shutterstock

          ↑ The Harvard-owned Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain provides 281 acres of springtime reminders. Plus: Bike paths.

          Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

          ↑ A number of fabulous waterfront parks, including Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in the North End, can provide excellent vantages for soaking up the warmer temps.

          Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

          ↑ And have we mentioned the Public Garden in spring?

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            Back Bay's 1000 Boylston Street could start construction in 2018

            Curbed Boston: By Tom Acitelli  

            A scaled-back proposal to build a primarily residential tower over the Massachusetts Turnpike next to the Hynes Convention Center won a key approval from the Boston Planning & Development Agency on March 15.

            Developer Weiner Ventures had originally proposed building two buildings where Massachusetts Avenue meets Boylston Street: One 566 feet and 39 stories, the other 283 feet and 24 stories.

            The newly passed proposal includes plans for just one of those towers—and it would now reach to 484 feet and 27 floors. It would include 108 condos atop two floors of retail and restaurant space as well as two levels of parking.

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              Millennial Homeownership Up, Inventory Woes Persist

              BY: JANN SWANSON @ Mortgage News Daily  Mar 14 2018

              Millennials are picking up the pace of moving into homeownership, but the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says not all are finding a way. Its 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study found that inventory constraints and higher housing costs have prevented some from leaving the more affordable confines of their parents' homes.

              The study evaluates the generational differences of recent home buyers and sellers and found that slightly more than a third of home purchases over the last year, 36 percent, were made by Millennials, an increase from 34 percent in 2017, making them the most active generation of buyers for the fifth year.  Gen X buyers accounted for 26 percent of sales, baby boomers for 32 percent, and the silent generation, those born between 1925 and 1945, 6 percent.

              Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the survey findings reveal show what it takes for Millennials to be a successful buyer and why, even as sales to that age group reached an all-time survey high, slim inventories and other conditions are working against many. Yun said the overall share of those buyers remains at an underperforming level.

              The typical Millennial needed a household income of $88,200 compared to $82,000 last year to purchase the same sized 1,800 square foot home which increased in price from $205,000 to $220,000. They were also carrying more student debt than revealed in last year's survey and slightly more of them said saving for a down payment was the most difficult part of buying a home.

              "Realtors® throughout the country have noticed both the notable upturn in buyer interest from young adults over the past year, as well as mounting frustration once they begin actively searching for a home to buy," said Yun. "Prices keep rising for the limited number of listings on the market they can afford, which is creating stark competition, speedy price growth and the need to save more in order to buy."

              Added Yun, "These challenging market conditions have caused - and will continue to cause - many aspiring millennial buyers to continue renting unless more Gen Xers decide to sell, and entry-level home construction picks up significantly."

              Among other generational findings of the survey was that, as in previous years, younger boomers were the most likely, at 20 percent, to purchase a multi-generational home with an increase from 30 to 39 percent who said they did so to provide a place for their adult children to live. Providing a place for their parents was a reason given by 22 percent.  This also applied to Gen X buyers, with those purchasing for multi-generational purposes rising from 12 percent in 2017 to 15 percent and many of those (35 percent) saying adult children were the reason, slightly more than those doing so because of their parents.

               "Costly rents and growing student debt balances appear to make living at home more appealing, affordable and increasingly more common among young adults just entering the workforce," said Yun. "Even in situations where three generations are all cramped under the same roof, it can significantly help some millennials eventually transition straight to homeownership. Eighteen percent of millennial buyers in the survey said their family home was their previous living arrangement." 

              Regardless of the age group, the quality of the neighborhood was the most important factor in deciding where to live, followed closing by proximity to employment. Recent Millennial buyers were also as likely as other age groups to put a priority on living close to friends and family.

              The share of millennial buyers with at least one child continues to grow, at 52 percent in this year's survey and up from 49 percent a year ago and 43 percent in 2015. With the need for a larger house at an affordable price, 52 percent of millennials bought in a suburban location while also being more likely than Gen Xers and younger boomers to choose a home in a small town. After climbing as high as 21 percent in 2015, only 15 percent of recent millennial buyers purchased a home in an urban area.

              Eighty-six percent of Gen Xers and 85 percent of Millennials purchased a single-family home, while boomers of all ages were most likely to buy a multi-family home. Only 2 percent of millennials bought a condo.

              "While there is an overall trend among households young and old to migrate towards urban areas, the very low production of new condos means there are few affordable options for buyers - especially millennials," Yun said.

              The survey also found that both buyers and sellers in all age groups prefer to work with real estate agents.  Millennials, at 90 percent, were most likely to purchase using an agent, but at least 84 percent of other generations did so as well. Close to the same percentages of sellers were also agent assisted.  

              NAR mailed its 131-question survey in July 2017 to a weighted random sample of buyers who had purchased a home between July 2016 and July 2017. The survey could be completed by mail or on-line and was available in both English and Spanish. Of 145,800 surveys mailed, 7,866 were returned.

               

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