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Fall is the New Spring in Real Estate

Courtesy of Andrea Brambila - Inman News.

      

Record-low mortgage rates, skyrocketing buyer demand, and shrinking inventory have pushed the housing market's busy season forward through at least the end of the year.

Record-low mortgage interest rates, the increased need for more spacious, multifunctional homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and timelines that no longer necessarily revolve around the start of the school year have fueled homebuyer demand so much that fall is looking more like a new spring in the housing market this year.

“This spring was like no other,” Brian Rubenstein, senior director of mortgage at online lender Ally Home, told Inman in a phone interview. “The pandemic and the market dislocations were quite unprecedented.”

Due to the pandemic, the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low in an effort to shore up a faltering economy, and rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have been hovering around 3 percent. This week, National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun declared that 2020’s housing market was outperforming 2019’s housing market and predicted that this year’s home sales would end up higher than the 5.34 million homes sold in 2019.

Rubenstein doesn’t expect rates to rise and that means that the market will likely see what he called an “extended spring cycle.”

“We’ve begun to see a steady increase in people hitting the market, inventory remains lower than usual, but at the same time, with demand being so high, we’re seeing the average home price jump dramatically.

“For the first time we’re also seeing the new entrants into the market — first time homebuyers — not really being scared off by that. They’re really looking to settle in and really begin their home purchase journey, given everything that’s happened in the current landscape.”

Ally saw a delay in the spring market that lasted about two months. Whereas the market typically starts heating up in March as homebuyers figure out where they want to be for the following school year, this year it wasn’t until May that mortgage application volume started picking up, according to Rubenstein.

“Our app volume’s up close to 160 percent of where it was year over year. The purchase market has begun to pick up steam as the refi wave continues to dwindle a little bit,” he said.

Although Ally declined to share raw numbers, the company said the share of first-time homebuyers in July and August had grown to 60 percent of purchase volume, up from 42 percent of purchase volume in July and August 2019 — a 43 percent year-over-year increase.

Trending

“I would expect us to continue to see a steady pick up in purchase volume through the remainder of this year and … [stay] buoyed by the spring market next year,” Rubenstein said.

While there is usually a dip in mortgage volume around the holidays, whether there is one this year is up in the air, in part because people are less likely to travel extensively until there’s a vaccine, according to Rubenstein.

“If folks are not open to traveling during the holiday season, it could present an opportunity for us to continue the continued climb in the mortgage space,” he said.

Additionally, companies that are currently having their employees telecommute could decide to extend that arrangement, allowing people to ditch their previous commutes and “re-tether” themselves to an area that’s more important to them because it’s closer to relatives or a particular school, according to Rubenstein.

“It could help perpetuate … the late spring market through the fall, through the winter, into the following spring,” he said.

Because school is unlikely to be solely in-person, that could encourage families to move around more as well.

“If the caregiver or parent is remote, and the child is either remote, or there are going to be multiple options in the future for children to facilitate learning, whether it’s through virtual or e-learning, that provides a lot more flexibility optionality for folks when they’re making home purchase decisions,” Rubenstein said.

“People are going to be thinking about that probably in a different way, given the landscape of the environment. I think that could help further stimulate this market that we’re seeing now and continue on at least through some point next year.”

Real estate data firm CoreLogic saw home prices rise 5.5 percent year over year in July — the highest rate since 2018. Real estate brokerage Redfin saw home prices rise even more in the markets it operates in — 8.2 percent — canceling outa 6.9 percent increase in buyer purchasing power due to low mortgage rates. The firm attributed the price increases to a combination of low inventory and high buyer demand.

Instead of experiencing their usual fall decline, home prices will at least hold at their current “record high levels” for the next quarter, according to Mike Simonsen, CEO of housing market analytics firm Altos Research. Simonsen hosted a webinar Thursday titled “The Key Data to Watch Right Now in Real Estate.”

Source: Altos Research

“Normally where we are in late summer is the high and we’re starting to reduce prices before the end of the year. We don’t want to be stuck with a home in November that’s been on the market since July, so they get cut,” he said.

“[This year] our whole seasonal reset is way lower than a normal year. Twenty-five [or] 26 percent instead of 36 [or] 37 percent of homes are taking price reductions. That’s because there’s demand in the market. That’s homes getting listed and sold quickly. That’s multiple offers, and that says that the homes that are listed now in the prices that we’ve got now hold up for transactions that happen later in September, in October, November.”

        

Source: Altos Research

That demand is being met with shrinking inventory. Altos predicts the number of single-family homes for sale will continue to drop through the end of the year.

Source: Altos Research

“We had just a couple of weeks in March of climbing inventory in 2020, and then the rest of the year when normally we’d have all this inventory increasing, inventory dropped rapidly every week from April all the way through,” Simonsen said.

“It’ll be flat for a couple of weeks here in September and then you can expect the majority to pull back. The second week of January is when we get our inventory turn. It starts the new listings for the springtime. We may be at 378,000 homes for sale for the whole country. It’s insanely low. That would be half of what a normal January would start at and like a third of what a healthy market would be.”

Source: Altos Research

Altos expects that some homes will come on the market as the first six months of mortgage forbearance end for some homeowners at the end of September. At that point, some will decide to sell their homes, but most will re-extend their forbearance period so that it ends in March, which may mean new inventory in April, according to Simonsen. Still others who are currently in forbearance but not responding to their lenders may go into foreclosure on January 1 as the current foreclosure moratorium ends, or may decide to sell to avoid foreclosure, he added.

“Because prices are high, equity is at record levels, homes are moving fast, it seems unlikely that we’re going to get a wave of foreclosures, but more likely that we might have folks that say, ‘Well, I’m going to take my cash now,'” Simonsen said.

“For Realtors that communication of the opportunity to walk away with your cash pretty quickly because demand is high is a listing opportunity to take advantage of.”

In response to a post on Inman’s Coast to Coast Facebook page, real estate pros mostly expected the fall market to be as busy as their spring normally would be.

“The [Washington D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area] has been extremely busy,” wrote Don McGlynn, associate broker at Compass. “Low inventory is resulting in a price squeeze. Things would have to change drastically for that to slow down in the fall.”

“We are still seeing low inventory and multiple offers on many homes,” he added. “30 years in the business and I have never seen this before.” But, he added, “[R]eal estate is cyclical. I think when the pandemic is over we will see more homes coming on the market. It should lead to a more balanced market.”

Some agents and brokers anticipate staying busy, but predict low inventory will stymie sales.

“In the Chicagoland market as long as people don’t have to commute to an office to work in, we will continue to see homes selling in specific price points where home buyers can have the separate living spaces to accommodate the household needs for working and education as well as greater outdoor space,” wrote Andrea Geller, a broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago.

“For the most part I haven’t had a lull and still continue to get new opportunities with new and past clients, which is giving me a good pipeline of business,” she added. “One of many [factors] choking up listings and some buys are the courts are so behind that sales that are a result of things like divorces or estate issues are on hold until the right to sell them is there.”

Glenn Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty which operates in 30 states, anticipates “above-average buyer demand continuing, and the deal flow continuing to be limited by low inventory through the [f]all.”

But he predicts the repercussions of the pandemic to hit next year. “After the stimulus money runs out (sooner or later, even if there is another round), this tempo may change as the economic scars from the pandemic will become more obvious to the markets and the economy. The election outcomes will also influence the tempo of the market next year,” he wrote.

Tim Marsh (Owner | Broker)

Marsh Properties, Inc.

tim@bostonluxuryrealestate.com

(C) 617-548-7145

New Exclusive - Renovated 3rd floor two bedroom penthouse with private deck and full parking space for $549,900!

MLS# 72703432

Sunny 830 SF two bedroom, 3rd floor penthouse with private step-out deck and full parking space!   

Lovely 1870 row house meticulously renovated into three condominium units in 2015. 

Original historic accents blend with the modern convenience of single floor-thru living. Bow windowed living room and second bedroom overlook Eutaw St. Cooks' kitchen features granite counters, stainless steel appliances, gas cooking with vent hood, window and breakfast counter. Private master bedroom on the rear. Full bathroom includes marble accents, vanity and tub/shower combination. 

Private 19' x 8' deck off the living level with direct access to the full parking space. 

W/D in unit. Central AC. Recessed lighting throughout. Four California Closets. Gas heat and hot water. Large private storage area. 

Fabulous location in one of East Boston's most vibrant neighborhoods - historic Eagle Hill. Close to Eastie's best restaurants, including Angela's Cafe and Rino's Place, grocery store and the Airport T Station.

      

Contact Ellen Zumbado (C) 603-502-7828 or ellen@bostonluxuryrealestate.com for a private viewing.

Pristine Two Bedroom Condominium overlooking Chestnut Street on the Coveted South Slope of Beacon Hill

The coveted South Slope is home to this lovely two BR condominium with postcard views of Chestnut Street and a Southern exposure.  Entry foyer with coat closet.  Spacious 21’ living room with electric fireplace and two picture windows overlooking Chestnut. Renovated S/S and granite kitchen with picture window.  Rare dining room.  Large master bedroom features two closets, large picture window overlooking Chestnut and a full bath en-suite.  Second bedroom with closet is positioned at the opposite end of the condo from the master bedroom.  Adjacent full bathroom.  Architectural moldings and new wood floors add to the charm of this home.  27 Chestnut boasts a popular and convenient location just a few blocks up from the Charles Street shops and restaurants and is close to the Boston Common, Public Garden, Charles River and Esplanade and Financial District.  Residents enjoy a common roof deck with panoramic views, courtyard, fitness room, private storage, laundry room and bike storage.  $1,750,000

  Take a video tour of this property at:  https://youtu.be/El-VVLDgfMQ

            

         

Tim Marsh

(C) 617-548-7145 or tim@bostonluxuryrealestate.com      

Newly Priced 3BR Marlborough Street Penthouse Boasts ~1,000 SF of Spectacular Outdoor Space!

Stunning 3 Bedroom, 2.5 bath penthouse duplex set within 1,912 SF of luxurious interior living space.  Features an additional ~1,000 SF mutli-level roof deck with dramatic views of the Back Bay, Charles River and the Boston skyline. The large marble, fireplace'd living room is flanked by 2 sets of French doors leading out to an additional terrace overlooking Marlborough St. Both outdoor spaces are fully landscaped & complete with an automated 3 zone irrigation system and dressed with accent lighting throughout. The open floor plan provides for fabulous entertainment with a separate marble wet bar & N'Finity Pro wine refrigerator. The grand dining room has a large skylight & lovely period sconces. Renovated, sky-lit kitchen is accented with an unusually large piece of inlaid granite floor matching the counters & back splash. Custom cabinetry, double Viking ovens, 5 burner Miele cooktop  & Subzero refrigerator provide all the elements needed for that perfect kitchen. Elevator. One full parking space.

              

            

    

    Contact Cheryl Marsh to schedule a private viewing.

   Cell: 617-797-5781   Email: cheryl@bostonluxuryrealestate.com

Interior Finishing Wrapping up for Pier 4 Luxury Condos

Courtesy of Bldup

About Pier 4 Phase II

130-140 Northern Avenue, Seaport DistrictBoston, MA

Tishman Speyer's second phase of their $500 million Pier 4 development project overlooking Boston Harbor. featuring a nine-story residential building containing 106 luxurious one-to-four-bedroom condominiums with 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The building will feature a rooftop terrace and state-of-the-art amenities. Pier 4 will include a one-acre public waterfront park. A two-level underground parking garage will be located on site.

Each condominium at Pier 4 will feature private outdoor space; penthouse condominiums will also feature private roof decks. Pier 4 will offer the only Seaport residences surrounded by water on three sides. Resident amenities will include pet-friendly conveniences, an exclusive residents club, an expansive outdoor terrace, a seating and dining area with a fire pit, a luxury fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, virtual golf, and on-site self-parking and valet.

On the ground floor of the residential building will be the Seaport's first farm-to-table restaurant. The restaurant will be operated by Kristin Canty, owner of Concord, MA's Woods Hill Table, and will have 140 seats, including a raw bar, along with a 40-seat patio. On the office building's ground floor will be a location of Tatte Bakery & Cafe over 3,600 square feet in size.

Boston had nation's worst rush-hour traffic congestion in 2018

By Tom Acitelli - Curbed Boston 

Boston drivers wasted an average of 164 hours in rush-hour traffic in 2018, the highest total among U.S. cities, according to a new report from research firm INRIX

The company analyzes millions of bits of data for its annual Global Traffic Scorecard. Boston always scores rather high, but this year the city appears to have rated particularly bad. 

For the first time, too, INRIX looked at commutes in terms of peak (slowest travel times) versus inter-peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. In Boston on average, commutes increased 27 percent during peak versus inter-peak hours.

There was a bit of good news in the report. “[I]n cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, a higher proportion of trips are taken via public transportation, walking, or cycling.” Any car trips then are more likely to be related to business, the report said—unlike in, say, Los Angeles, where everyone drives everywhere for everything. In fact, INRIX said that L.A. was the most car-dependent city of the top 10. 

A rundown of that top 10 is below. 

Perhaps its status as the U.S. city with the worst rush-hour traffic will drive Boston’s leaders to reconsider congestion pricing once again. Or maybe the T will be fare-free sooner rather than later.

Tim Marsh - Owner/Broker

Marsh Properties, Inc.

Demo Underway for St. Regis Residences in the Boston Seaport

Courtesy of BLDUP.  Latest Boston Real Estate Development News

 

Demolition of Whiskey Priest & The Atlantic Beer Garden along Boston's waterfront has begun to make way for the upcoming St. Regis Residences.  Once the bars have been cleared work will start on the 22 story tower that will hold 114 luxury residences. The project also calls for around 10,000 sf retail space and three levels of underground parking.  

Construction is expected to be complete in around 2 years.

About St. Regis Residences, Boston

150 Seaport Boulevard, Seaport DistrictBoston, MA

Upcoming 22-story mixed-use waterfront building in Boston's Seaport District. The St. Regis Residences, Boston will contain 114 residential condominiums. 10,700 square feet of ground and second level retail space and three levels of underground parking. The ground floor space will feature a signature restaurant. A Harborwalk extension will be built around the building. The project will be built at the present site of the Whiskey Priest and Atlantic Beer Garden waterfront restaurants. The following is a rendering of St. Regis Residences, Boston:

Tim Marsh Sells Another Full Service Luxury Condominium in the Four Seasons at the Public Garden!

Tim Marsh sells a palatial and beautifully renovated full service penthouse condominium at the Four Seasons to one of his direct customers.  Two units were seamlessly combined to create this 2,760 SF 3+BR, 3 bath residence at the world-class Four Seasons at 220 Boylston Street, across from the Boston Public Garden.  Features include a 25' living room with architectural ceiling, fireplace and wall of picture windows.  Chef's kitchen with all the bells and whistles.  Three bedrooms plus den/4th BR.  Sumptuous master bedroom suite with huge walk-in closet and spa-like bath.  Two self-park or valet garage spaces.  

Five Star services from the Four Seasons Hotel include a fitness center and heated lap pool.  In-room dining is available.  Direct access to the Hotel lobby and the popular Bristol Lounge and Restaurant.  Conveniently located across from the Public Garden and Boston Common.  Close to the Financial and Back Bay Business Districts, Theatre District and the famous Newbury Street shops and restaurants.  

List Price:  $5,600,000

     

Seaport's 150 Seaport Boulevard to be the St. Regis Residences, Boston. Billowy 22-story tower will have 114 luxury condos.

By Tom Acitelli, Curbed Boston

Rendering courtesy of Cronin Development

The famously billowy condo tower planned for 150 Seaport Boulevard, on the Seaport District sites of the Whiskey Priest and the Atlantic Beer Garden, will open as an outpost of the St. Regis luxury brand, according to developer Cronin Development.

The firm reached a licensing deal with Marriott International, which is not itself involved in the development. 

The tower is due to have 114 condos and to reach to 22 stories. A groundbreaking is expected this fall, with an opening scheduled for late 2020. 

Such an opening will cap a long time of back-and-forth on the plans. The Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group, agreed in January to drop a lawsuit against the project in exchange for $13.1 million in funding for a waterfront park, a public dock, and children’s programming.

The group had opposed Cronin’s (very expensive) plans on zoning grounds because of concerns about public access to the waterfront.

As it stands now, the future condos will come with access to a suite of St. Regis-branded luxury services, including concierge and butler service, and to amenities such as a swimming pool, a spa, a health club, a library, and what the developer is calling a golf-simulation room. 

Then there’s the design of the building itself, courtesy of the late Howard Elkus of Elkus Manfredi. It is meant to evoke a billowy sail. 

Stay tuned for sales (the other kind). Those are expected to launch in the fall.

Boston's Neighborhoods: How They Got Their Names.

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Geography, infills, independence movements—all played roles in shaping the city’s positional vocab.Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Boston is named after the town of Boston in eastern England. But what about the city’s neighborhoods? A lot of them have similar roots in old Albion, while a sizable chunk are tethered etymologically to geography. 

Read on for the origin stories of Boston’s 22 large neighborhoods.

Allston

This neighborhood was for years simply the stockyards and rail yards of the town of Brighton. It also had a post office and quite a bit of woodlands. 

One gentlemen who liked to hike the woodlands was the painter Washington Allston, who lived across the Charles River in Cambridge.

By the time Boston annexed the area in 1874, it was known by his surname.

Back Bay

This photo from 1858 shows the Back Bay on the left and the Charles River on the right.  Public domain.

There is a reason many people call this neighborhood the Back Bay: From 1857 to 1882, one of the largest urban infrastructure projects in U.S. history filled in about 450 acres of pestilential tidal basin known colloquially as “the Back Bay.” 

Beacon Hill

 

A depiction from 1811 of the reduction of Beacon Hill to 80 feet from 138.  Wikimedia Commons

Multiple hills—some say three, some say five—comprised what became Beacon Hill, one of the first settled areas on the Shawmut Peninsula.

One of those hills became known as Beacon Hill because of a signaling beacon on it; and the name stuck. 

Bay Village

The smallest neighborhood that the city itself breaks out, Bay Village was born in the 1820s as the collection of homes for the workers who built the tonier nearby Beacon Hill. Therefore the architecture looks similar. 

Bay Village used to go at various times by the Church Street District, South Cove, and Kerry Village. Bay Village stuck, perhaps given its immediate geographic proximity to the pre-infill Back Bay. 

Brighton

Brighton was its own town until Boston annexed it in 1873. 

By that point, it had been independent for only about half a century; and, before that, was known, along with what became Allston, as an agricultural and cattle-rustling appendage of Cambridge that went by the diminutive nickname Little Cambridge. 

It changed its name to Brighton, after a town in southern England, upon independence in 1807. 

Charlestown

Charlestown was named for—wait for it—an English king named Charles; in this case, Charles I, the Stuart on the losing end of the English Civil War. 

Europeans began settling what became Charlestown in 1629—20 years before Charles I lost his head—and it remained an independent municipality until 1874, when Boston annexed it. 

Chinatown

This neighborhood is named after its predominant ethnic group; though rising housing costs and other reasons for emigration have reduced the number of residents of Chinese descent. 

Dorchester

A regional map from 1858.  Walling, H. F.—David Rumsey Collection

Boston’s largest neighborhood by area is named for Dorchester, a town in southern England. 

Dorchester, USA, was an independent town until 1870, when Boston gobbled it. As a town, it included parts of what became known as South Boston. 

East Boston

The infill-spurred linkage over 150 years of five islands east of Boston formed this neighborhood. And the “east of Boston” bit gave it its name. 

The neighborhood’s private developers saw to its annexation to Boston in 1836. 

Fenway

Frederick Law Olmsted’s plans for the Back Bay Fens, circa 1887  Public domain

Take your pick: This neighborhood’s name came either from the Back Bay Fens, a park that landscape architect extraordinaire Frederick Law Olmsted designed, or from a road that ran along it. Fens, incidentally, is a term to describe a marshy or flood-prone area, which this eventual neighborhood was.

Boston annexed Fenway and its Kenmore Square and Audubon Circle areas from Brookline in the 1870s.  It’s sometimes called “the Fenway”—often an unconscious nod to the theory that the neighborhood was named for the road. 

Hyde Park

Boston’s southernmost neighborhood—and the last to be added through annexation, in 1912—is named after the park in London dating from the 1630s. 

Jamaica Plain

This is another tossup in terms of origin. JP was either named after the Caribbean island from which some residents drew their wealth via the slave-driven rum and sugar trades; or after the Anglicization of the name of a Native American leader. 

Or! As in the case of Jamaica in Queens, New York, it comes from the name of a Native American tribe called the Jameco. 

JP became part of Boston in 1874. Interestingly, it was part of the town of Roxbury and parts of Jamaica Plain became the town of West Roxbury.