Boston’s housing market, fueled by strong economic growth, has been blisteringly hot the past few years — and nearby towns and cities are basking in the warmth and glow. With few exceptions, communities in or near Boston have seen Massachusetts’ biggest gains in median home prices between 2012 and 2017, even in already expensive markets like Brookline and Cambridge. The Boston real estate bonfire has now spread to once-affordable pockets of the city like Southie and Roslindale, and gateway cities like Lynn, Lawrence, and Brockton.
“Real estate is about jobs,” says Timothy Warren, CEO of the real estate market tracking firm The Warren Group in Boston, which also publishes Banker & Tradesman. “Just being close to the Seaport and Kendall Square and these centers of good-paying jobs, that makes a big difference.” No surprise, then, that all 12 of this year’s hot communities offer subway or commuter rail service to the city and its jobs.
Our desirable dozen have seen the largest leaps in single-family home values across four different price categories (more than $1 million, $750,000-$1 million, $500,000-$750,000, and under $500,000). Results are based on median single-family home price increases from 2012 to 2017, using sales data from The Warren Group. (We’ve excluded cities or towns with fewer than 75 single-family sales last year or in 2012.)
While we highlight the very hottest of local markets, nearly all of Greater Boston has experienced a dramatic surge in home values. It’s hard to find a community inside Route 128 where median, or midpoint, home prices didn’t climb at least 30 percent since 2012.
That’s great news for folks who bought their home in the post-recession slump. But if you’re on the other side of the homeownership divide, these steep increases are nothing to celebrate. “Affordability is a big issue, and creating new housing is difficult, so we’ve got real problems there,” Warren says. “We can’t sustain this kind of growth if we don’t have [affordable housing].”
Professional stagers are paid to bring out the best in your home. Don't take it personally.
Your home might be beautiful. Maybe it is immaculate, stylishly appointed to suit your tastes or highly upgraded with the finest materials and features. Perhaps it is all of these things. But, unless you are one in a thousand, it is not “staged.”
Staging a home for sale is not a new concept, but it is a practice that has gained steam with our more challenging market. I see many home sellers confuse staging with decorating and consequently resisting the process and the recommendations of the staging professional. But the reality is that the moment you commit to marketing your home for sale, you need to commit to transforming your home into a place that potential buyers can easily picture as their home. This means that you need to be prepared to emotionally detach.
Let your home speak to buyers.
Your home speaks to you, but what is it saying to your potential buyer? Most sellers we encounter tend to take the staging process personally, and this is precisely the point. Our homes are personal, yet how we live is not how we sell. Our homes represent who we are; they are life-sized memory books of our travels, they trumpet our likes, our dislikes and our beliefs. They showcase our stuff -- all that stuff we have accumulated over time that speaks to us. The goal of staging is to make the home speak to everyone else, in a compelling and positive way.
You are proud of your Hummel collection. Each piece acquired over time has a special meaning, but to your buyer, it is a collection of your things which serves only to draw his attention away from the main event. Likewise the personal photos, the too-tall centerpiece, the overstuffed china cabinet and the bookcase filled with National Geographic magazines dating back to the Paleozoic Era -- these are all treasures to be sure, but they serve only to sidetrack a buyer from the task at hand.
Buyers tend to label the homes they see, as do agents. So, you can either be the “house with the beautiful arched doorways” or the “house with the Elvis throw rug and a bunch of office furniture where the dining room should be.” Both evoke emotional reactions, but unless the buyer is one who spends his annual vacations at Graceland, you will be far better served by eliminating distractions.
Clutter may suggest your home doesn’t measure up.
Most of us, if honest, will admit that our daily lives involve a certain amount of clutter. The little stack of mail and car keys and loose change next to the telephone, the “junk drawer” which has been busy propagating the species while no one was looking, and a bathroom with enough toiletries on display to groom the entire population of Northern Ireland are all examples. OK, I’m talking about my home here, but we all have our own flavors of clutter.
True, clutter is just another perpetrator of distraction. More importantly, though, your clutter may be sending a message that you don’t have enough space. My own kitchen counter top is at this moment permanent home to a toaster, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, a butcher block of knives, a canister of utensils and a bowl of random items of fruit origin, the latter living out their golden years in a decorative bowl. This arrangement (except for the brown bananas) is functional, but to another person it might suggest I lack the cabinet space to properly store these everyday items. And, if I'm hoping that this other person will buy my home, I need to clean up my act.
Don’t shoot the stager.
The primary goal of staging is not to transform your home into the eighth wonder of the world. For most of us, this simply isn’t realistic. Rather, the best stagers will work with what you have, rearranging and reallocating all of your belongings, in order to present the property in its best light. Sometimes this means reallocating some of those belongings to the garage.
Too often the tendency is take the process personally, but you shouldn’t. Staging is not a do-it-yourself sport, and only a third party specialist can bring the neutrality and objectivity needed to accomplish the goal. You may interpret the message that your favorite painting would look much better above the fireplace -- in your neighbor’s house -- as an indictment on your style and tastes. OK, maybe it is, but most likely it is not. Rather, it is probably the stager’s attempt to ensure that your appointments don’t upstage the home itself. That’s his/her job.
Make no mistake -- professional staging is an inconvenience. Your daily routine will be turned, at least temporarily, on its head. And it can be unsettling as you watch your life rearranged to suit the tastes of others. But if selling your home in the shortest amount of time and for the most money is your goal, it is precisely those "others” who should be your focus.
The 30-story, 340-foot Pierce Boston condo and apartment tower, the tallest building in Boston west of Back Bay, officially opened at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street in Fenway on March 1.
Four weeks earlier, one of the biggest—and longest-in-coming—new projects in the Boston region got officially underway: The five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet in the Kenmore Square area.
These buildings would total more than $1.48 million square feet of commercial, technology, and life science research space—the idea is to rival other regional commercial hubs such as Kendall Square and the Seaport.
It’s there that owner HYM Investment Group has put forward a general redevelopment plan with two paths. Both paths include 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades. (Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in adjoining Revere.)
That pro-commercial path would be paved with the up to 8 million square feet of office space that Amazon is seeking in a new HQ. It would, too, include 7,500 residential units, 550,000 square feet of retail, and up to 830 hotel rooms.
But suppose Amazon choose Dallas or some such exotic placeinstead of Boston. In that case, HYM would take a pro-residential path, with 10,000 housing units, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 670 hotel rooms.
There would also be 5.25 million square feet of office space.
Kendall Square-based M.I.T. is driving much of the change in the Cambridge neighborhood.
Silver Line service from downtown Boston into Chelsea is expected to start this spring. The five-mile route will run from South Station to a stop just west of Everett Avenue, and will facilitate connections to the Red and Blue lines.
An estimated 8,700 people will use the route daily, a figure sure to further boost Chelsea’s status as a Plan B for buyers and renters priced out of Boston proper.
The route will include an exclusive right-of-way for Silver Line buses once in Chelsea, where there will be four stops total. And, as part of the extension, the state will relocate Chelsea’s commuter rail station westward and spruce it up quite a bit.
These developments including the Hub on Causeway, the first phase of which is under construction and is due to include the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”