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Beige Book Report January 2018

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston


First District - BOSTON

Residential Real Estate 

Heading into the end of the year, residential real estate markets in the First District showed slight to moderate increases in sales and ongoing struggles with inventory. (Data for all six states refer to changes from November 2016 to November 2017, while Boston data were for October-to-October changes.) For single family homes, closed sales increased in all reporting areas except Connecticut. For condos, closed sales increased in all areas. As usual, shortage of inventory prevailed and contacts expressed concern that short supplies will hurt the market in the long run. Median sales prices increased across the region, with the exceptions of Connecticut for single family homes and Vermont for condos. Despite high prices, contacts expressed confidence about the residential outlook. However, many contacts indicated that new legislation passed by Congress could discourage home ownership, as shrinking the cap on the mortgage interest deduction for primary homes and the loss of most deductions for interest on home equity loans will increase costs for most property owners.

Commercial Real Estate 

Contacts reported that commercial real estate markets ended the year on a relatively high note. Leasing activity held roughly steady in recent weeks, with deals proceeding mostly as expected. In the Portland area, office and industrial rents increased 10 percent on a year-over-year basis, while retail and apartment rents were roughly unchanged over the same period. Also in Portland, however, transactions volume for both leasing and sales was  down in 2017 as a result of low vacancy rates and low sales inventories. In Boston, office rents edged up further in recent weeks and significant absorption of office space was seen in the Seaport and Back Bay neighborhoods. In Providence, office rents started to increase in recent weeks amid an increasingly tight vacancy environment. Contacts in all three of these metro areas expressed uncertainty concerning the impetus for new office and industrial construction in 2018, but nonetheless expect some. On the one hand, vacancy rates in both of these sectors are low by historical standards and rents are on the rise, but on the other hand construction costs are described as very high, a fact attributed in part to a tight market for construction labor. A Boston-area contact noted that some apartment construction projects are taking longer to complete than anticipated because of worker shortages. Contacts were generally cautiously optimistic about 2018.


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    Tim Marsh closes on another exclusive sales listing at the Four Seasons at the Public Garden!

    This beautifully renovated two bedroom luxury condominium sold for an all-time record high for a rear-facing unit at $1,769 per SF!

    The property sold within 2% of the list price of $2,195,000 in just 17 days!



    Check this property out!

    Tim Marsh - Owner/Broker

    New Issue of The Real Estate Insider Newsletter. Mid-Year Review - full of info about your Boston Real Estate Market!

    Click on the following link to check out our new mid-year issue of The Real Estate Insider.  We've been providing our readers with timely data, offerings and sales reports on the Boston real estate market since 1992.

    This new issue includes some very interesting, if not unexpected, data on the following topics:

    Five-Year Sales Summary of Boston's Tier-1 Doorman Condominium Buildings.

    Mid-Year Condo Sales Review of each major Boston Neighborhood in the <$1M, $1-3M and $3+M price ranges.

    The Best Time of Year to Sell.

    Tim Marsh

    (C) 617-548-7145

    Check out our New Website for one of Boston's Grandest Condominium Homes - 257 Commonwealth in the Back Bay!

    Click on the following link to visit the website for this magnificent home in the historic Cochrane Mansion.  List Price: $11,250,000


    Quintessential Back Bay Condominium With All the Right Touches!


    257 Commonwealth Avenue was built circa 1886 for industrialist Alexander Cochrane by the renowned firm of McKim, Mead & White - architects of the Boston Public Library and the East and West Wing renovations at the White House.  The Cochrane House was developed into six private residences in 1985.  Residence 3 is a rare and coveted combination of the entire parlor and second floors, connected by a grand elliptical staircase and overlooking the Commonwealth Mall.  The parlor floor features the mansion’s original public rooms - perfect for entertaining on a grand or intimate scale.  The centerpiece is the forty-foot Great Hall. Today it serves as this condominium home’s elegant entrance foyer and a family room at the opposite end. The drawing room, bay windowed living room and dining room are accessed from the Hall, allowing for excellent flow.  Adjacent full, updated kitchen. Powder room.  Palatial 900+ SF private deck.  The second floor offers a masterful entertaining salon with a full kitchen.  Powder room.  Library.  Master bedroom with a marble bathroom and large walk-in closet en suite.  Two-three additional family bedrooms.   Adjacent full bath.  Additional features and amenities include massive pocket doors, soaring coffered ceilings, stunning wood and plaster detail, seven fireplaces, central air, W/D and keyed elevator access.  Two full garage spaces.  Professionally managed Association.

    Price:  $11,250,000       Size:  5,930 Interior SF.    900+ SF Private Deck.    

    Contact Exclusive Listing Broker, Tim Marsh for a private viewing.  

    (C) 617-548-7145    email:


    Beige Book Report for Boston April 2017

    Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

    Residential Real Estate
    Residential real estate markets in the First District continued to struggle with a shortage of inventory. All six First District states as well as the Greater Boston area reported large declines in inventory for both single-family homes and condos from February 2016 to February 2017. Closed sales also declined in every state and Boston for single-family homes. Results for condos were mixed, with closed sales increasing in New Hampshire and Vermont but decreasing elsewhere. Respondents ubiquitously reported strong buyer demand. A contact in Boston said: "Sales could have been much stronger had the inventory been up. Unfortunately, we've noticed that potential sellers have become more reluctant to list their homes because they are apprehensive that they may not be able to find another home themselves."

    Given the robust demand and low inventory, contacts were not surprised that prices generally rose year-over-year. For single family homes, median sales price rose in each state except Connecticut. For condos, prices rose in all reporting regions. A New Hampshire contact said the low inventory situation and rising prices were "particularly hard on first-time buyers struggling to get into the market." In general, contacts saw no remedy for ongoing declines in inventories. Most were confident, though, that buyer demand would stay strong, even in the face of increasing interest rates.

    Commercial Real Estate
    Reports on commercial real estate activity in the First District were mixed. Contacts in Boston and Hartford reported a modest softening of commercial leasing activity in recent weeks, while activity was reportedly stable in Portland and somewhat stronger in Providence. In Connecticut the weaker activity extended to both the industrial and office sectors. In Boston reports of slower demand pertained to the urban office sector, which still enjoyed a single-digit vacancy rate. Investor demand for prime Boston properties remained strong but price appreciation slowed further.

    Office construction activity continued to be restrained across the District. Apartment construction activity remained significant but the pace of new deliveries slowed and the pipeline of planned projects contracted somewhat amid evidence of slowing rent growth. Respondents noted that borrowing rates for commercial property loans were flat despite recent increases in short-term rates. Most contacts expect further improvements in their respective commercial real estate markets moving forward, but likely at a slower pace. A Hartford contact was somewhat less optimistic, citing drags on growth related to severe fiscal strain in his state, while a Providence contact was more upbeat, based on signs that business confidence in Rhode Island had improved recently.

    Summary of Economic Activity
    Business activity continued to expand in the First District in recent months, with the year-over-year pace of increase said to be modest to moderate. Most responding retailers and all contacted manufacturers and software and information technology services firms reported increases in revenue from a year earlier when contacted in early April. Commercial real estate markets were somewhat mixed in the region. Residential real estate markets across the region saw price increases and sales declines in February compared with a year earlier, which contacts attributed to low inventories. Across sectors, hiring was reportedly modest as were wage increases, while many respondents cited difficulty filling a range of positions. Retailers and manufacturers said some selling prices were up modestly. Most responding firms cited a positive outlook amid some ongoing policy uncertainty.


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      Winning Strategies to sell Your Property This Spring!

      The greater Boston real estate market logs in the largest number of sales closings in the Spring (2nd) Quarter virtually every year.  The cold weather and snow give way to blooming flowers, warmer weather...and eager buyers!  

                                                                                                                                                                             Some want to enjoy the Summer in their new digs, others 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 2017 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.  

      Curb Appeal

      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 things like cleaning the litter and leaves out of the front garden of your building or making sure the entry foyer to your condo building is spotless.  Not only does this first look enhance or detract from 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.  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 your front door, 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.  Put new washers in that kitchen faucet that just started dripping.  Seal and repaint that water stain from the leaky toilet upstairs that you had fixed last Fall.  Touch up that chipped paint on the frame around your front door. 

      Assemble the documents and information you'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 roof. 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.  Find the floor plans for your property; buyers really appreciate seeing these in the brochure and it helps them to better remember your property at the end of a long day of viewing 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. 

      Many of your neighbors have relied on Marsh Properties Brokers over the last 32 years to manage their real estate needs.  Call us today for a confidential discussion on how to best prepare your property for sale.    


      Marsh Properties Owner/Brokers:

      Tim Marsh               (C) 617-548-7145

      Cheryl Marsh           (C) 617-797-5781


      Seaport Square - the Cultural Corridor

      Seaport Square ‘cultural corridor’ a response to needs of Boston’s artists, developer says

      Replaces plans for larger theater

      BY TOM ACITELLI  FEB 17, 2017, 11:00AM EST


      WS Development

      Apparent demand for smaller cultural spaces in Boston drove the decision to do away with a proposed 200,000-square-foot performing arts center in the last major bit of Seaport Square under development, according to developer WS Development and members of the city’s arts community.

      The scrapping of the larger theater center at Seaport Square in Boston’s Seaport was part of a slew of changes that WS Development recently proposed. In the larger venue’s place will be what the developer describes as a “cultural corridor,” per Tim Logan and Malcolm Gay in the Globe.

      That corridor is due to feature much smaller venues—which some in the Boston arts community say are more in demand than mammoth locations (just look at the recent acrobatics executed to preserve Boston’s Colonial Theatre).

      Still, the change has rankled some who see the corridor in place of the center as a bait-and-switch—just a way to get the necessary nods to commence development.

      However! It appears that the original 2010 Seaport Square master plan included caveats: re: a performing arts center, including its dependency on “local demand and funding.”

      For now, WS Development is gathering feedback from the arts community about what the venues along the cultural corridor should look like, including how big they should be. That could take a year. And the full build out of Seaport Square could (and will probably) take into the next decade.