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      Apartment Hunting

      Boston Homes Hit Record Jump in January

      If you're looking to get ahead of winter and break the cold spell with some good news, look no further. There's plenty of rosy things coming out from the real estate sector, particularly at the beginning of this year, as home values increased in January, well above the national average, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.

      Homes in Boston and its surrounding areas rose by 8 percent year-over-year in January to $351,600, and 10.7 percent in the city of Boston to $418,300, faster than the national increase of 6.3 percent over the same period. Elsewhere near city proper, home values also increased dramatically: Brookline ($591,500), Cambridge ($541,800), Newton ($793,100), and Somerville ($435,800) surpassed their prior peak home values. In short, values in these communities are as expensive as they've ever been, so if you still want to buy, perhaps now is the best time ever before spring selling season arrives.

      What comes alongside this bit of news is no surprise, however. The biggest problem facing Massachusetts buyers right now is the lack of immediately available inventory which is the main culprit of why prices seem to not be stabilizing, and in fact, is escalating rapidly. As Boston is one of 13 of the 35 largest metro regions to have a falling inventory of available properties, the tightness in the number of homes for sale is likely helping to keep home value appreciation at a boil in the area, relative to the national pace. The number of homes listed for sale in the Boston metro was down 11.2 percent annually in January, the 27th straight month in which inventory in the area has fallen year-over-year.

      However, with more than a dozen mid- and large-scale developments to becompleted this year, inventory should rise back up, and could therefore taper down further increase in prices. This is precisely the reason why, if you're still in the market to invest, now until the start of the spring selling season is your best bet to get into the game. One caveat though: if you go in now, you will be faced with limited, yet choice listings; but if you wait until summer, you'll risk inflated prices. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's all a matter guts, we say!

      Finally, and as if to prove to you that you're not alone if you make the decision to take a go of the current real estate climate, we're also proud to announce that alongside figures pertaining to home values in January, home sales have also soared to its highest level since 2007.

      In fact, single-family home sales in Massachusetts increased by 5 percent in January -- the highest number recorded for the month in six years. The surge, it seems, comes on the heels of two months of modest decreases in sales volume. January home sales in the Bay State increased to 2,728, up from 2,599 in 2013. The last time sales volume was bigger in January was in January 2007, when 2,953 houses were sold.

      Another thing to note about sales transactions for the same period is that there are perhaps more cash buyers now than ever before. In previous periods and in previous years, cash buyers traditionally accounted for a mere 10 percent. However, December 2013-January 2014 figures reveal that more than a third of all transactions in that period were cash deals.

      Condominium sales for the month also did well, rising to 1,144 in January from 981 in 2013, a 16.6-percent increase. This is the first January since 2008 where condo sales broke the 1,000 barrier. The median condo price in the Bay State increased by 24 percent to $300,000, the highest January median price for condos since data has available in 1987. In January 2013, the median price for a condo was $242,000.

      With reports from TWG and Zillow.

      The Future For House Hunters

      The current real estate recovery is like a marathon. Last year, buyers and sellers sprinted out of the gates at full speed, fueled by low interest rates and affordable home prices. The press as well as social media were full of stories about limited housing inventories, bidding wars and multiple offers. In 2013, real estate was indeed very sexy and headline-worthy.

      As we move into 2014, it's clear we've only run the first few miles of this marathon. Last year's excitement will surely wear off, and there will be a lot less flashy magazine covers, posts, tweets or evening news stories about real estate. Most experts predict a slower, steadier, more even "pace" this year in most of the country, even as mortgage rates and home values inch up.

      However, all of this doesn't mean 2014 won't be as good a time to buy real estate. It helps to look at the bigger picture. Sure, we likely won't see interest rates as low in 2014 as we did in 2013. But to put that into perspective, interest rates were as high as 18 percent in the 80s, yet people still bought homes.

      As you approach buying a home this year, it helps to focus on the long term by keeping the following five best practices in mind. You might wonder why they sound familiar - that's because these were best practices for homebuying a generation ago. And they'll most likely still be practical when the next generation of home buyers sprints out of the gate.

      Buy when you're ready: Just because you didn't buy last year when the market was super hot doesn't mean you've missed out. Could you have gotten in when the rates were at their lowest and values near the bottom? Sure. But were you ready to buy then? Probably not. The main thing to remember is that you should buy a home when you can afford it, you have your financing and you've found a home that meets your needs. That will always be the best time to buy.

      Homebuying is a journey: Despite how quickly the world works today, you can't force a home purchase. It's not like buying a television or a laptop. A home is a much more expensive and somewhat complicated purchase. It's where you can feel safe and calm from the outside world, a place you can customize to your needs, and where you will make lasting memories. Because of this, buying a home comes with emotional and practical implications on top of the financial ones. Remember that a home is your place to live first and an investment second. Take the time you need to find the right home.

      Don't be driven by data: If you watch the nightly news or read news online, you'll hear real estate market predictions and numbers on a national level. And at any given time, you'll likely get conflicting real estate forecasts. A lot of information and data will come at you from many different angles - including social media. Don't take anything to be an absolute. Always keep your own goals and needs top of mind at all times.

      Real estate is local: The national real estate news headlines may be about multiple offers and bidding wars. But that situation may only be relevant to one part of the country or even to just a handful of cities. Meanwhile, the neighborhood where you want to buy a home still has distressed sales and is more of a buyers' market.

      All that really matters in real estate is what's happening in your own community. If you're interested in getting into the market, follow the local economy and housing markets. Go to open houses and learn. Get connected to a real estate agent who has "feet on the street."

      Go with your gut: There's no one who knows your financials better than you. You know your down payment amount, credit score, amount of savings and the upper limits of what you can afford to put toward homeownership every month. Apply what you know about your finances to your local real estate market. You know the neighborhoods, the commercial districts and the types of homes for sale. By merging these two, your gut will inform you on what's a good buy, when it's the right time to buy and how to approach a purchase.

      In 2014, stay focused on what you know, stay local, take your time and don't let outside forces sway your decision to buy a home. People have bought and sold homes for years, at higher prices and with higher interest rates. If you're in it for the long haul, consider yourself at mile 3 of a 26-mile marathon.

      Off-Season Home Selling Secrets

      Boston, fog, winter, selling secrets, off-season sales

      It's been said that spring and early summer are the best times to sell your home. Competition among buyers can be fierce during these warm months and for whatever reason, the data has consistently shown that homes sell for more in spring and early summer. Maybe there's something psychological to warm weather that entices buyers or maybe it has something to do with the fact that families want to settle in before the school year starts in the fall.

      Either way, it's not always possible to choose when to put your home on the market, especially in a complex market such as Boston. But while spring might be the busiest time of the year for real estate transactions, homes get bought and sold every season of the year. Here are some tips of the trade for selling your home in the off-season winter months.

      Staging for Snow: In many parts of the country it gets cold and snowy during the winter. In Boston, climate is essential since snow is prevalent. This said, make sure that you stage the outside of your home accordingly. Shovel the driveways and be sure to clear ice away from walkways and doors. Buyers want to feel safe and comfortable when they're looking around. This also applies to multi-family homes, as well as converted and condo'ed out units.

      Just because your grass is brown or your house is covered in snow doesn't mean you can't stage it successfully. Try to highlight the house with tasteful winter-themed decorations that are aesthetically-pleasing. Houses for sale in the winter tend to show especially well when they're decorated. If the holidays have passed, make sure to also take away those decors, since it'll seem like you're stuck in time. Instead, replace holiday decorations with neutral winter-themed items.

      Remember than the purpose of putting up these decorations is to create a warm feeling for buyers. It might even help your house seem more attractive than it would be in the warmer months. Make sure that you choose tastefully, though, ones that will appeal to a wide variety of buyers.

      Leave the Lights On: Once daylight saving time ends, it can get dark pretty early. Consider putting your outdoor lights on a timer. That way, when prospective buyers show up, the house will look bright and cheery instead of dark and dreary.

      You can apply the same idea to the inside of your house too. Make sure that the heat is on before buyers arrive and that the place is clean, smells fresh and is warm. Just like with your last job interview, first impressions are everything. This is doubly so for real estate, so you really want to "wow" buyers when they pull up to your house and walk inside.

      Stand Out From the Competition: During the winter and cold months, there may not be as many buyers but there also aren't as many sellers. Often times, off-season buyers need to move quickly, whether due to job relocation or major life changes, so be ready for them.

      In order to make your property stand out, consider adding a video to your listing or creating a small website to showcase your home. Sometimes freebies don't hurt either. If you know there's going to be someone touring the place, it won't hurt to leave out treats for them to enjoy whilst going around your property. Remember that you want to stand out and be remembered in the end. The average buyer looks at 4 properties before they make a final decision. So it'll be good for you when you've made an excellent impression since you'll likely to stump out the competition, as long as the property meets the buyer's wish list. In fact, with the market right now, you can even end up getting more for your property if you're willing to go that extra mile.

      Realtycheck: How Does 2013 Compare?

      The Greater Boston Association of Realtors just released their most recent market statistics for the city, with figures that highlight the changes in specific neighborhoods throughout the city on a detailed month-to-month and year-to-year basis. Like any report, this one packs a punch - specifically to certain areas which we've highlighted for you below:

      Tidbit Tells:

      • It seems that the median sale price for Boston single-family properties was up almost 18% from last year to $426,750.
      • The inventory of Boston condominiums for sales was down by about 1/3 or roughly 30% from 2012.
      • Boston condos seemed to turn over much faster in November 2013, down to 49 from 69 in 2012.
      • Counting all of 2013 up to November, the average days on market for Boston condos was down by 45%, or roughly about 45 days.
      Bulging Back Bay:
      • The number of single-family home sales in Back Bay spiked more than 200%, with year to date sales of $7,037,500 compared to $3.1 million last year during the same period.
      • Alongside the sales growing was the average days on market these properties lingered for, this year it was higher at 189 days, significantly disconnected from 2012's average days of market of zero.
      • However, it's an all together different picture for condos - average days on market this year (January to November) was at 55, down 42% from 2012's 55 days to sell.
      In Surprising South End:
      • Days on market for single-family homes was way down to 38, about a 50% difference from 2012.
      • 100% of listings in the South End fetched and closed for asking, or even higher in certain cases.
      • Median sales price for South End condos was at $995,000, almost 42% higher than last year's median sales price of $702,000.

      A copy of The Greater Boston Association of Realtors' Monthly Housing Report can be found here.

      Double Digit Rally in November & Millennium's Milestone

      House Price Increase Growth Diagram Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIREWith the holidays over and the new year starting to roll out, it does well to think and reflect about the past year's performance. In particular, homes in Massachusetts continued their upward trend in November, climbing 10.4 percent year-over-year and beating out other key metro areas.

      Nationally, the Bay State didn't do quite as well, with the national average home price increase pegged at 11.8 percent in November year-over-year. Though the price increase is still bullish, November's upward trend wasn't enough to unseat the state's record high levels of October 2005, being 12.5 percent off figures from that month. And though national prices edged out the states' property price increase for the month of November, Massachusetts is still closer to its peak levels compared to the nation's, which is 17.6 percent below its peak in April of 2006.

      Compared to the five states registering the largest year-over-year home price appreciation in November included Nevada ( up 25.3 percent), California (21.3 percent), Michigan (14.34 percent), Arizona (13.5 percent) and Georgia (13.3 percent), Massachusetts' dilemma with its quantity and quality of inventory suggests that the price increase could have been greater if there were more listings to play with, as this would have spurred price wars hence tipping the scale towards the sellers. Compounded monthly and compared year-over-year, home prices in Massachusetts have appreciated every month in 2013, spurring a steady yet more humble growth outlook for 2014.

      In Other News: Millennium Place's Milestone

      It looks like Millennium Place's marketing machinery has done a good job selling its inventory of available units. The developers, who have been aggressively marketing its units, is about to approach a "sold out" status, only after a year's worth of pushing the plush residence's properties. This, after Millennium Place circulated emails yesterday, announcing that everyone's favorite Downtown Crossing condo complex was nearly sold out.

      Given that Millennium's marketing only launched its aggressive push officially in October 2013 (though pre-selling started in the Spring), this feat is a testament to the city's real estate comeback, especially in that part of the metro's map, giving confidence back to the once "forgotten" neighborhood and to nearby developers and investors alike.

      According to the Millennium's email yesterday, only five of the condo complex' 256 units remain for the taking, consisting of 2- and 3-BRs above the eighth floor. A quick search of the building's inventory shows that the most expensive unit is the 1,505-square-foot on the 14th floor, which currently is asking $1,505,000.

      Contact us now to get a glimpse of the available units, and take advantage of them while they last! Call (617) 505-1781 now.

      Why You Should Sell Your Home This Winter

      Typically winter is seen as the worst time of the year to sell your home - especially if that home is anywhere in the Northeast. Sellers believe the holidays will get in the way, buyers don't like the cold, and open houses can be ruined in a blink by a snowstorm. But while the temperatures are continuing to drop this December, the local real estate market remains red hot, offering a unique opportunity for homeowners looking to cash in and sell.

      This year has been one of multiple offers and over asking bids. Due to the abundance of transaction activity earlier in 2013, we're seeing buyers who began looking in the spring still without a new home. These buyers are ready to pounce on a property if they can just find one that meets their needs. The combination of dwindling inventory and eager buyers has created an interesting environment for sellers as there is a large pool of buyers who are ready to buy now and less inventory than any other time of the year. In its simplest terms supply is heading to a yearly low and demand is still very high.

      What this scenario creates is an ability for sellers to capture the attention of a larger percentage of active buyers with their new listing and stand out in a way that simply isn't going to be possible in the spring. The buyer pool that is still looking for a new home today has, for the most part, been conditioned to come in strong and fast with offers when they see a home they like and are also more likely to overlook small imperfections.

      It's Cold Out! How Can I Close Deals Faster?

      We real estate agents see it all -- from unmade beds to overstuffed garages to the "what-were-they-thinking-of?!" decor.

      Over the years, we've learned why some houses sell while others linger and linger on the market, and why some promising buyers never make it to the closing table. They know how to get a better deal on the mortgage, and how much the other agents stand to make on your home.

      The good news is, they want to share. The information is useful whether you're a buyer, a seller or both.

      In today's market, sellers are again optimistic about the value and price of their homes -- but buyers aren't. Your challenge as a seller is to price the house so that it is compelling and competitive. What exactly does that mean?

      Generally, if you set a price slightly below market value - even just a minuscule fraction - it will make all the difference. For instance: If similar homes in your neighborhood are priced around $210,000, price yours at $200,000 or $198,000. That shows your willingness to sell (not at a loss, but at a healthy profit).

      Always remember, the longer a house is on the market, the less likely you are to get fair value. So you'll really want to position yourself to be the one that sells, not the one that ends up bopping around.

      For many potential buyers, frugality ends the minute they get pre-approved for a mortgage. That's when they start running up the cards and opening new lines of credit to buy things for their home-to-be. But that pre-approval letter is just one of the first steps in the home buying marathon, not the finish line.

      Just before closing, a lender will re-examine a prospective buyer's financial situation -- complete with a recent copy of the credit history and other updated information. If those numbers have changed for the worse (salary decrease, higher card balances, new lines of credit), then the applicant could get clocked with a higher interest rate or even lose the loan. The number of buyers who get denied is significant relative to the ones who've gotten a pre-approval line of credit.

      So, what's the moral of the story? Never get new loans or start using credit cards more heavily until after you've actually closed on the home. Even better, retain your frugality until you've been in the home for a few months and have a good sense of how homeownership affects your finances.

      If you're selling a home, it's important to understand the timeline. Underestimating the time it takes -- and building a schedule around those unrealistic expectations -- adds stress.

      For those curious, here's a quick breakdown of the process:

      Getting your home in shape: two weeks

      Average time on the market (varies widely with location and price): 2 1/2 to three months

      Negotiating after an ?offer: one week

      Preparing to close (assuming a traditional transaction): 30 to 45 days

      A smart seller allows a ?minimum of four to six months to sell.

      If you'd like to discuss selling your home before the spring, please contact us at info@bostonire.com with your name and number, and we will get back to you with a plan to get your home sold for the most money possible and in the fastest time this winter.

      RealtyCheck: Home and Condo Sales' October Comeback

      As temperatures keep dropping going into the winter months, sales figures keeping climbing. Reports for the past autumn month of October show that sales of single-family homes rose again in October, increasing nearly 19 percent from a year earlier amid shrinking inventory and rising prices.

      A total of 4,326 single-family homes were sold in Massachusetts in October, an 18.5-percent increase from 3,649 sales in October 2012. Year-to-date, sales are up more than 7 percent at 42,077, compared to 39,239 during the same period last year.

      Most of the speed of sales are caused by baby boomers cashing out on their property investments, riding out the recent wave of sales and investments in the Northeast region. But as volume rose, so did prices.

      The median price of single-family homes rose almost 10 percent in October to $313,050. This is the state's highest median price for the month since October 2007, when it was $331,000. The median price for homes sold January through October was $324,900, up more than 12 percent from $289,000 in the prior year.

      Yet, the market is unstoppable as proven by the quick turnover of high-end properties in suburbs.

      In October, statewide condominium sales statewide rose 16 percent, increasing to 1,724 from 1,487 a year ago. Year-to-date condo sales are up 5.8 percent to 17,089 from 16,152 during the same period last year.

      The median condo price rose to $299,500 in October, a 13-percent increase from $265,000 a year earlier. The year-to-date median price of condos in the Bay State is $295,000, up 7 percent from $267,500 a year ago.

      Single-family home inventory at the end of October, fell 19.9 percent to 20,716 listings compared to a year ago when there were 25,877 listings, while the inventory of condominiums was 5,582, down 26.1 percent compared to last year when there were 7,557 listings.

      Average market time for single-family homes in October was 92 days compared to 114 days in October 2012, the trade group. Condos stayed on the market an average of 78 days, down from an average of 114 days in October 2012.

      Million Dollar Condos

      Prices of condominium properties in the city rose 23 percent from January to October of this year compared to 2009. Compared to 2012 however, the number of listings priced at $1 million and over have doubled.

      Though most of Boston's neighborhoods are experiencing the real estate recovery, three Boston districts are ruling the condo turnover scene, according to Curbed.com's Tom Acitelli. Midtown - comprising of Financial District, Chinatown, and parts of Beacon Hill - lead the pack, particularly because of Millennium Residences' rise, as well as 45 Province's renewed vigor to sell its few remaining units.

      Boston skyline, winter house hunting, Boston real estate, Bargain buys, discounts, winter advantage

      Now far behind is the quintessential and famed favorite South End. Last year, only a handful of condo properties in the neighborhood closed above the $1 million mark. This year however, one out of four have closed well above that threshold. Of course, this does not top that of the Back Bay - where 40 percent of all closings in 2013 were above $1 million. One difference that sets the South End apart is that there are no huge condo buildings that comprise the bulk of sales and listings. Instead, the neighborhood's dozens of different addresses - brownstone or converted and remodeled - make up the closings that passed the million dollar mark. One option that is fast becoming a hot complex though is Sepia in Ink Block. Check it out here.

      Last but not least, Charlestown comes in at third. In past years, only one or two condos in this Cambridge and Boston suburb reached the million dollar mark. This year however, there have been 24 units in total! Most of these listings were from newly constructed townhouses right by the Navy Yard. Indeed, a good location to invest, as new-construction town homes are becoming a rarity in the central city of Boston itself.

      Thankful To Be A Homeowner or Property Renter?

      It's Thanksgiving week, and in the midst of all the family festivity planning and turkey day celebrations, your home is the most important - if not crucial - element in it all. It's where you'll be welcoming guests and serving those carefully-made meals. And regardless of whether you're hosting or attending, the home is central to holiday celebration. And so, this got us to wonder - how many celebrating homes out there are filled with happy homeowners and how many are ones with rejoicing renters? Most importantly, who is happier of the two?

      Turns out both measure out the same. The rent-or-buy debate typically revolves around money, with the buy camp winning more often than not. It's hardly surprising that, even after the housing crash, most young Americans still aspire to own a home.

      But will it make them happy? Granted, it's tough to measure. Other variables shove their way into the merry mix.

      Nevertheless, social experts do take a pretty good stab at the question. Happiness matters. A lot. We don't mean bubbly happy, but adaptable, resilient, content, optimistic -- powerful factors for long-term health and success.

      Renters: There's no mortgage hanging over with the mistletoe

      Real estate is a good financial investment, if you hold onto it and the home's value grows. But for many people, the mortgage payment consumes so much of their income that the home becomes their only financial investment.

      Now everything, not just where you're going to live, hangs on making that payment. Don't forget the nest egg used to make the original down payment. There's more at stake with a mortgage payment. Whenever you have more at stake, it's obviously more stressful.

      Renters: Spared from foreclosures

      Even when times are OK, and finances aren't critical, the potential threat of losing everything someday to foreclosure can overshadow some of the positive feelings associated with owning. Research shows that the punch of anything negative is bigger than the pleasure of anything positive. This would suggest that the stress or worry associated with debt is more painful than the pleasure you get from owning.

      Renters: More Social Beings

      After controlling for income, health and housing quality, a 2004 survey found that homeowners spent 4% to 6% less time with friends and neighbors than did renters. Not only that, the homeowners also experienced more negative feelings when with other people. So far, experts studies reveal that contrary to the belief that homeownership fosters more involved or better family lives. It actually points to less active and less enjoyable social lives.

      Renters: Enjoying Flexibility and Mobility

      It's not infrequent that first-time homeowners have a sense of "feeling trapped" once they have settled in to their new home. The feeling or just being able to up and move from lease to lease disappears.

      A British economist famously found that countries with low levels of homeownership also enjoyed lower unemployment rates; workers were able to move to take the best jobs. When you consider what psychologists know -- that variety and new experiences are what make us happy -- it's little surprise that homeowners can, at times, find themselves envying the flexibility renters enjoy.

      It is, after all, only human to want to have varied experiences to sustain happiness.

      Homeowners: Wealth and Wisdom

      Are homeowners wealthier because they own a home? In many cases, yes. Homes offer a kind of forced savings strategy for middle- and low-income earners, who often have little cash left over after making the rent. But it's also easier for people with money to buy homes. The combination of the two puts homeowners well ahead statistically.

      Homeowners: They're healthier, if they're current on their payments

      There's a Harvard University research together with the Joint Center for Housing Studies that in 2001, they gave the win, by a nudge, to homeowners for better health. Although data from the study showed no positive connection between homeownership and health, researchers from the National Study of Family Health found that homeowners gave themselves better self-assessments for physical health.

      The researchers did, however, add this caveat: Homeowners' health was better only if they're current with their mortgage payments.

      Homeowners: They have higher self-esteem

      In what reviewers called one of the strongest studies on the topic, a whopping 85% of new homeowners said that their self-esteem improved after purchasing a home. Self-esteem is defined as a person's judgment of his own worthiness. Self-esteem usually gets a boost when someone accomplishes a goal, or senses he is doing better than other people. It is also strongly influenced by what other people think, and in America homeowners are held in higher regard.

      Still, the same study found no measurable difference in self-esteem between renters and homeowners when it was measured by researchers, who concluded that self-esteem may be too deeply ingrained a character trait to change much.

      Outcomes, however, do suggest that homeowners may already possess higher self-esteem. Research from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that among low-income families, the children of homeowners performed better in school and were more likely to graduate.

      Homeowners: More Involved in the Community

      Historically, research has landed on the side of homeowners being happier here.

      The sentiment -- long a selling point for real-estate agents-- has been that homeowners are more involved in civic and religious groups and are more likely to vote. However, as more people rent -- 35.4% of Americans today -- some studies that control for factors such as age, income and education level are revealing that ownership status alone may not dramatically affect a person's engagement level after all.

      So - who's the happier home? Neither edge out the other.

      While the prior happiness studies do control for income, it's important to remember the toll that financial stress can take.

      It may seem like a no-brainer that unaffordable mortgages negatively affect people's mental health, even when their monthly housing payments haven't risen. But here's a finding from years of happiness research that many don't know: The thrill of a new experience -- even buying a dream house with great views and marble countertops -- quickly wears off. People adapt, and even while they're happy with the house, their overall satisfaction with their lives stabilizes.

      So while it's true that homeownership can build wealth, and that wealthier people tend to be happier (until their basic needs are met, then the rates level off), being a renter also gives certain freedoms that homeownership can't. And regardless of if you're a homeowner or renter, the important thing is that you have a roof over your head and remember to be thankful for it.

      South End's Twin Tower Proposal

      Up until recently, people who have been musing around the idea of living in the South End only had two choices: brownstones or converted units. However, like most neighborhoods in Boston nowadays, the district is experiencing a boom of developments, particularly ones that are brand new, giving a third option for those seeking solace in the hot Southern urban downtown tip of the city.

      Roughly more than a year ago, Ink Block's ambitious and transformative 8-building project launched and broke ground. This year, Sepia came into fruition and availability. The multiple-building project sits on the former Boston Herald Site, a few blocks away from Back bay, and just by I-93. Though the completion date of the entire project is still three to four years away, it seems that demand for brand new condominium housing in the area is highly lucrative (if one is to believe the rumors of Sepia being sold out this early are true).

      In response, comes another multiple-building project from Burlington, Mass-based Nordlblom Company. To be situated in the same vicinity as Ink Block, 345 Harrison St., Nordblom's proposal calls for the demolition of a two-story warehouse to make way for the 569,400 square feet project. Once completed, the condominium complex is proposed to have two structures - 13 and 14 stories tall, spread over the two acres of re-zoned land, with a total of 602 rental units (233, 360 units, respectively) alongside 33,500 square feet of ground floor, "18-hour" retail and restaurant space.

      Nordblom Company hopes to break ground and start construction in the second quarter of 2014, if approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

      One Bed or Two? A Must Read for Picky Property Hunters

      Does it make more investment sense to buy a one bedroom unit or a two bedroom unit?  There's too much data and too many variables for an absolute answer.  But it's a question that's posed a lot.

      Some investors focus on buying a unit with as many bedrooms and square footage as possible within their budget. They equate the 2nd bedroom - assuming it's a real 2nd bedroom - and a larger floor area with greater value. This is not always the case.

      Whatever the property's price range may be, here are a few things to consider:

      • Neighborhood, Street, Building, and Unit Placement Heavily Influence Value. This sounds obvious but if the focus is strictly on price and the number of bedrooms, this can get lost in the shuffle.  Buying a  two bedroom for $450K in a South Boston 2-family is obviously different from buying a one bed for $750K at One Charles in the Back Bay.  Buying a unit on lowerNewbury Street is different from buying on upper Commonwealth Ave. Understanding the neighborhood at the street/building/unit level based on trusted sales and rental data  is key.  Unit placement is also critical. i.e. the resale potential and rental value of a 5th floor walk-up two bed for 750K vs. a one bed in an elevator building for the same price.
      • Projected Return Levels During Hold.  A good understanding of this data and competitive rentalproduct is extremely important. Thankfully, a lot of rental data in Downtown Boston is transparent.  An investor can position an acquisition for positive cash flow and project returns based on the rent number.  The rents will generally be higher for the 2 beds, but then so generally are the acquisition and carrying costs which affect the return.
      • Liquidity - A sound investment purchase begins with the exit plan.  While all real estate is illiquid, some knowledge of historical sales trends and neighborhood inventory turnover can enable educated projections for re-sale.  At minimum, we want some evidence that in a reasonable time period and without discounting, we can sell the property at will.  Given a one bedroom vs. two bedroom with comparable finishes and quality, appropriately priced to market in the same neighborhood.....which unit is likely to be the fastest, most straightforward sale in 5-7 years?

      In the one bedroom corner: Generally lower price point, potentially larger pool of renters during the hold period, more buyers at the end of the hold period.  That means less vacancy time, and less time on market on the re-sell provided it's appropriately priced to market.

      In the two bedroom corner: Generally higher rent, and more versatile utility value.  Many serious buyers will only consider 2 beds because they just prefer that extra room...for an office, regular guests and family members passing through town (this comes up very frequently). Possible greater potential for appreciation based on the utility value.

      So... One or a two bed???  There are many other variables and no short answers, but as with other investment vehicles, whatever the number of bedrooms the purchase should align with an investor's goals and risk tolerance.