Developer Related Beal has filed detailed plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency that would add two new buildings to Kenmore Square—one of which Boston’s most famous sign would bestride.
The plans include incorporating 660 Beacon Street, which has been holding up the famed 60-foot-by-60-foot Citgo sign since 1965, into one of the new buildings.
The prolific Related Beal bought 660 Beacon and several other buildings in the area in 2016, touching off speculation that the sign was doomed.
Organized opposition to its demolition arose even before the sale, when former owner Boston University announced it was putting the buildings on the block. Related Beal and the oil concern behind the sign struck a deal in March 2017 intended to keep the clarion beaming for decades.
Plans include construction of an eight-story property called the Commonwealth Building at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Deerfield Street. It would have 130,000 square feet of modern office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, 60 underground parking spaces, and rooftop terraces with what Related Beal describes in a release as “unmatched views of Kenmore Square and the Charles River.”
As for 660 Beacon, it would be renovated and incorporated into a 143,000-square-foot Beacon Building, per the developer, “an adaptive re-use development that will include more than 110,000 square feet of re-positioned office space and 18,000 square feet of retail space.”
Related Beal expects the office space to go quickly in the Boston-area’s rather scorching office market. It cited a recent brokerage report which concluded that “[office] vacancies in Boston and Cambridge will remain at or near all-time lows.”
The developer wants to start construction during the first three months of 2019. Stay tuned.
For homesellers, even in a market with next to nothing for sale, timing is everything. Listing your home on a certain day — and even a certain time of day — may make it sell faster and for more money.
Thursday is the most popular day for agents to debut new listings, and homes listed on that day apparently sell fastest, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. Redfin analysts based their findings on a sample of 100,000 homes that sold in 2017. It used Sunday, the worst day to list, as a baseline and then calculated the relative advantages for every other day.
Homes listed on Thursday sold an average of five days faster than homes listed on Sunday. Redfin also found homes listed Thursday were more likely to sell within 90 to 180 days.
"Our market is programmed to look at houses Thursday and to plan their weekends out," said Marshall Carey, a Redfin agent in Washington, D.C. "You really want to have the most eyes on your property, and Thursday seems to be the day to do that."
The theory is that most people tour listings over the weekend, and they begin planning their weekends on Thursday. Redfin found that a home gets five times more views on the first day it is listed than on subsequent days. This is likely because most online real estate sites offer alerts of new listings to potential buyers. Before the internet, new listings were put in newspapers on Sundays, advertising open houses, and some even in late editions Saturday night, but the model has completely changed.
A home is offered for sale in Chicago, Ill.
"I normally aim for Thursday or Friday," said Peggy Ferris, an agent with Compass. "I don't like to put it on too early because then agents want to show it and you lose the really good momentum for an open house on Sunday."
Sunday open houses are still popular but losing the momentum they used to have now that people can tour homes in pictures and video online. In today's incredibly competitive market, some sellers are getting offers without home tours or getting tour requests immediately. Offers are coming in even before the first open house.
"In this competitive market, most of the agents are sort of abiding by the Thursday, Friday and then taking offers on Tuesday," said Karen Kelly, also with Compass. "I like to give everybody a shot and take a look at 10 offers instead of just one."
While listing the home later in the weekend can create more urgency, listing it slightly early, on Wednesday, could actually get your more money. Homes listed on Wednesday had a $2,023 advantage in sale price over homes listed on Sunday, according to Redfin, although analysts there could find no clear reason as to why. Most agents I spoke with didn't buy that finding but were definitely interested to hear it.
"I think false," said Jennifer Myers, a real estate agent with Dwell in the D.C./Virginia area. "It's not just what day you list but also your entire strategy."
Myers agrees with the Thursday plan but adds a specific time of day. She puts her new listings online at 5 p.m.
"The afternoon is better because on Thursdays all of us are listing, and so if you list in the morning, you end up actually on Page 2 of the listing, you end up further down, and you want to be on the top," she said.
Today's housing market is arguably one of the most competitive in history. A record low supply of listings, coupled with extraordinarily high demand from the largest generation, mean fast-rising home prices and more people going after the hottest properties. Bidding wars are now the rule, rather than the exception.
So how do you win a bidding war? Best to be prepared before you even begin your search and to carry equal amounts of patience and humor with you … if possible.
Decide on your absolute maximum price. This factors in the monthly payment on your mortgage (if you need one), property taxes, homeowners insurance, potential homeowner association or condominium fees, and a general estimate of monthly upkeep (lawn care, pool guy, unforeseen repairs). Then start looking for homes priced slightly less than that maximum. This gives you some wiggle room in the bidding war.
1. Come with cash. Not everyone can do this, but if you can make an all-cash offer, you will have an advantage. In certain very hot markets, investors are heavy, and they usually come with cash. Sellers don't want to deal with the possibility that your loan might not come through, or they may not want to wait the extra time for the mortgage processing, so they prefer cash. In some cases they may even cut the price a bit to get the cash. Coming with cash can actually double your chances of winning a bidding war, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. You can always take out a mortgage after the deal closes.
2. If you don't have all-cash, try waiving the financing contingency.That is when the deal is contingent on your loan being approved by the lender. Be careful though, you don't want to end up on the hook for cash if the loan doesn't come through, so get a fully underwritten loan pre-approved from your lender before submitting your offer. This could improve your chances of winning a war by 58 percent, according to Redfin.
3. Try a personal letter to the seller. I did this once myself, and it worked on a deal I never expected to win. Selling a home is just as emotional as buying one, especially for sellers who have lived in the home a long time and have raised their kids there. Sellers want to know a little about the people taking over their precious nest. If you're a young family, write about how you can see raising your children in the cozy family room and how you already envision them playing in the back yard. Write about how much you love the neighborhood and want to become an active part of it. DO NOT tell the seller if you plan to gut the home. That could gut the deal.
4. Finally, don't be afraid to walk away. The last thing you want to do is get over-emotional and overstretch your budget. Don't be house-poor. That defeats the whole purpose of the investment.
And remember, there will always, always be another perfect home.
Mortgage rates fell over the past week to their lowest levels in a month and are now below where they stood at the end of February.
The week was a repeat of the familiar pattern we have seen repeatedly for the past few years: Just as macroeconomic fundamentals are poised to push rates higher, geopolitical fears seize the headlines, prompting a financial flight to safe assets and pushing mortgage rates downward.
Looking only at interest rates and not at the broader context, U.S. home shoppers have been indirect beneficiaries of a tumultuous world buffeted by fears of financial instability in China and Brexit over the past two years, and now fears of a global trade war. The decline in mortgage rates is all the more telling because it occurred the same week that the Federal Reserve increased short-term lending rates. After steepening somewhat during the first two months of 2018, the yield curve is again flattening.
Beyond ever-present (and difficult to predict) geopolitical risks, markets are likely to watch for inflation data due Thursday as well as speeches by two Federal Open Market Committee voters early next week. Markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday, which could temper volatility, although borrowers should expect conservative pricing going into the long holiday weekend.
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.”
The greater Boston real estate market often logs in the largest number of sales closings in the Spring (2nd) Quarter each year; as the cold weather and snow give way to blooming flowers, warmer weather...and eager buyers!
Often buyers want to enjoy the Summer in their new digs. Some want to have their children in place for the next school year, while others strategize to maximize their tax write-offs for the calendar year. Many just want to get their home purchase project done and over with!
If you want your property sold during the 2018 Spring market you need to get started. Spruce up your property, assemble all the pertinent documents, hire a real estate broker and put your property on the market ASAP.
The following topics are some of the most crucial elements that you should attend to before that first showing appointment of your single family home, townhouse, condominium or cooperative.
As the buyer walks up to your property, their first impression often becomes their most lasting one. Make sure that their first view is as appealing as possible. It may determine whether the buyer will 1) go through with viewing the property. 2) make an offer...or not. 3) be willing to pay you a strong price.
I'm talking about increasing curb appeal with ideas like: repair cracks in the walkway, repair and paint the front steps, clean the litter and leaves out of the front garden of your building, replace worn hardware and touch up the chipped paint on the front door and make sure the entry foyer to your condo building is spotless. Not only does this first look affect the buyers initial emotional attachment to your property, it says a lot about how well the property has been maintained. In the case of a condo or coop building, it signals how willing your fellow owners may be to chip in on future repairs and general upkeep of the common areas; elements that directly affect the future value of your unit.
Let's Go Inside
Inside your property, there are numerous inexpensive ways you can make it show better. Clean your windows. Have your home professionally deep-cleaned. Place a few vases of fresh flowers in the main rooms. Increase the wattage of your light bulbs so the property appears bright and cheery. Clean the fingerprints off all doors, kitchen appliances and the bathroom mirrors. Clean out and/or reorganize your closets; a lot of buyers are coming out of large suburban houses where they are used to having a lot of closet storage.
Most buyers are very critical when it comes to the kitchen and bathrooms. Be sure every surface is uncluttered and spotless. Store the extra kitchen appliances and put all the personal items in the bathroom away. Limit the number of personal photos on display; you want the buyer to focus on your property and not who owns it. And if you have some rainy-day money stashed away, freshen the paint with neutral colors and refinish your hardwood floors!
Repair those little problems that don't really bother you but that all buyers seem to notice. Repair that dripping kitchen faucet. Seal and repaint that water stain from the leaky toilet upstairs that you had fixed last Fall.
If you’re aware of more costly repairs, consider doing them before you go to market. If the buyer doesn’t notice them, their inspector most likely will. And that can lead to unexpected renegotiations or even kill the deal. Replace that old hot water tank. Repair a roof leak. Repair or replace the decking or railings to that palatial deck.
Pets. Whether a prospective buyer is a pet lover or not, they want to buy a home that is immaculate. Pet odors, toys strewn about and damage to furniture, carpeting and woodwork can be a big negative. Some buyers are afraid of animals in general; they can be a real distraction. Although sometimes a logistical nightmare, best to not have the pet at home during showings. At the very least, have them crated somewhere private.
Assemble the documents and informationyou'll need to give to your real estate Broker.
Prior to going to market with your property, an experienced agent will ask you many questions about your property, from a dated list of your improvements to the age and condition of the heating system. Arm your broker with all the information you can. This way you'll shorten up the buyer's discovery period and get them to the offer stage quickly while their excitement level is still high!
In the case of a condominium, put together a package including a copy of recorded condominium documents such as the Master Deed, Declaration of Trust & Rules and Regulations. Assemble the last two years of financial statements, association meeting minutes and the current budget. Make sure you know whether there are any upcoming assessments for capital improvements and/or whether your condo fee, coop fee or any other fees attached to your property will be going up within the next twelve month period. For all properties, give your broker copies of your utility bills (gas, electric, etc.) for the last twelve months and a copy of your latest real estate tax bill.
The city’s tallest building by 2020 will be the same as it is today: 200 Clarendon (the former Hancock), which stretches to 790 feet at its tallest architectural detail, not counting antennae and other apparatus.
The second-tallest will also be the same, too: The 749-foot Pru.
The third will likely be new: The under-construction One Dalton hotel-residential tower in Back Bay is slated to stretch to 742 feet at its highest architectural feature.
What’s holding the city back from building to 800 feet, 900 feet, (gasp!) 1,000 feet? The sagas of two arrested developments—both garage conversions, in fact—illustrate the answer.
Developer Millennium Partners had at one point proposed building a 775-foot mixed-use tower, including condos, at the site of the shuttered Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street. (Millennium bought the garage from the city, and originally proposed a still-significant 750-foot project, before bumping that to 775 feet in November 2016.)
That was until February 2018, when the Boston Planning and Development Agency proposed allowing Chiofaro to build a tower as high as 600 feet in exchange for establishing a fund worth up to $30 million to compensate the aquarium for any disruptions and to set aside parking for the institution.
All in all, the plan would allow for the tallest tower ever along Boston Harbor. Chiofaro appears amenable to the deal’s terms, including the aquarium’s indemnification against loss of visitors/business.
Still, the tower might yet tarry: The state could take up to two months to review the BPDA plan; then it’s another round of local and state permitting; and Chiofaro hasn’t settled on a final design to even propose.
There is also continuing opposition from the owners in the neighboring Harbor Towers complex.
York City is closer than ever to enacting congestion pricing—that is, charging most motorists a fee for driving in and out of Manhattan’s main commercial districts.
The idea has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the sort-of backing, or at least not outright opposition, of New York Mayor (and Cambridge native) Bill de Blasio. Business groups are starting to line up behind it, and even ride-hailing apps such as Uber are saying they wouldn’t have a problem with the fee.
The idea behind congestion pricing is simple: To reduce vehicular traffic in congested areas by making it a cost-benefit analysis rather than a routine for drivers. Go in and about only if you absolutely need to—otherwise, take public transit, bike, or walk.
In New York’s case, too, the revenue from congestion pricing under the most recent proposal would go toward paying for much-needed repairs to the region’s public transit system, particularly the subway.
You know what other region needs money for its public transit system, particularly the subway? Yes, Boston.
The idea of charging drivers a fee for entering the city’s core is not a new one (and highway tolls are already a fact of life here). The idea has been bandied about to the point of mulling where officials might locate cameras to snap cars’ photos for fees.