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      Blog :: 11-2012

      Holiday House Tours In Massachusetts

      Massachusetts Holiday house tours, open house, Christmas 2012, New England, Boston, Boston Real EstateIf you're looking for something to do but not freeze out during this already-wintery start of the month, look no further. We've assembled a list of New England holiday house tours, open for everyone's enjoyment and exploration, all while in the comfort of being indoors. And whether you're just an open house enthusiast, or would just like to see what Ye Olde Christmas in the Bay state is all about, there is a wealth of these holiday houses sprawled out throughout the state that's ready to welcome you and your family with some warmth and holiday cheer.

      These holiday house tours have long been welcoming individuals and families alike during the holiday season, gifting its visitors the pleasure of satisfying their yuletide yearnings; it's also an enjoyable road trip for everyone. Additionally, going on these open houses is a great way give back to the community, as the admission price on most of these houses go to charitable institutions and organizations. The tour also gives its guests the chance to gather up some inspiration for their own homes, and even how to improve them off holiday season.

      Fitchburg House Tour Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 11 am to 4 pm Fitchburg Historical Society

      Stockbridge Holiday House Tour Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 11 am to 4 pm Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas

      Plymouth Holiday House Tour Saturday & Sunday, December 1 & 2, 2012 Pilgrim Hall Museum

      Shrewsbury Holiday House Tour Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 1 to  5 pm Shrewsbury Garden Club

      Preservation Holiday Stroll, Worcester Sunday, December 2, 2012 - noon to 5 pm Preservation Worcester

      Belmont Holiday House Tour Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 11 am to 4 pm Belmont Garden Club

      Concord Holiday House Tour Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 11 am to 4 pm Concord Museum

      Newburyport Holiday House Tour Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 10 am to 4 pm Custom House Maritime Museum

      Seashells and Jingle Bells Inn and Home Kitchen Tour, Rockport Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 1 to 5 pm RHS DECA

      New Bedford Annual Holiday House Tour Saturday, December 8, 2012 - 4 to 8 pm (Candlelight Tour) and Sunday, December 9, 2012 - 1 to 5 pm New Bedford Preservation Society

      Sandwich Holiday Home Tour Sunday, December 9, 2012 - noon to 4 pm Sandwich Holly Days

      Norwood Holiday House Tour Sunday, December 9, 2012 -  2 - 6 pm Norwood Historical Society

      Downtown Boston's Resurgence

      Downtown Crossing, Downtown Crossing Developments, Millennium Place, Filene's Basement, 45 Province, Boston International Real Estate, BIRE, B.I.R.E.

      It looks like downtown Boston is finally headed for a much-needed (and much promised) revitalization of the area with hi-rise buildings and developments well under way. One could say that a lot of city dwellers have given up hope for the city's central commercial spot, as plans for the huge hole left by the departure and demolition of the former Filiene's Basement fell through when the economic crisis hit in 2007. In fact ever since that fateful year, you won't expect Downtown Crossing to be referred to as "downtown Boston" again at all, as closure upon closure of businesses happened almost sequentially. A study commissioned by the city also showed that Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the Financial District were a Bostonian's go to answer when they were asked where "Downtown Boston" actually is.

      Downtown Crossing, Downtown Crossing Developments, Millennium Place, Filene's Basement, 45 Province, Boston International Real Estate, BIRE, B.I.R.E.But all of that is about to change. The completion and successful turnover of sophisticated residential tower 45 Province last year was only the beginning of good things for this struggling downtown district. In fact, so much is about to happen in the area: the Millennium Residences, the Times Square-esque open amphitheater on a newly renovated subway terminal, and the 60-story residential tower that will rise on the property vacated by Filene's Basement and is poised to change the city's skyline, to highlight a few. Even shopping is soon to return to the site, as 2 Avenue de Lafayette has gotten approval from the city to renovate and reposition its shopping complex to include a host of new retail shops and restaurants.

      The big development that everyone's excited for however, is the construction of the $620 million residential and retail tower that's positioned to fill the hole Filiene's Basement left behind. Scheduled to begin next year, the construction of the massive 60-story building will bring new life to the city's old downtown, and is set to be the tallest residential building in town. It is planned to have at least 600 housing units available, and at most have 100,000 square feet of commercial space.

      To add to the mix of new developments, projects in the Downtown Crossing district aren't just aimed to cater to residential, retail, and commercial clients, as a 240-room boutique hotel is also set to rise along 59 Temple Place (now being used for office space). These developments will surely upgrade the real estate marks of Downtown Crossing, and should put the district back on the map of both tourists, investors, and locals who are seeking living spaces within the city.

      Graphics courtesy of The Boston Globe.

      Boston's Holiday Hotspots

      Boston is magical during the holidays, with Back Bay streets lined with festive lights, Faneuil Hall's Christmas tree glitters with hundreds of ornaments, and Beacon Hill's cobblestone streets glisten under a soft dusting of snow. Yet despite all of its Christmastime wonders, Boston also offers merry-goers a chance to de-stress and unwind from the hectic holiday season. Checkout these holiday hotspots that's sure to keep you warm and jolly this Christmastime.

      Holiday Ho-Ho-Hotels

      XV Beacon Hotel Ranked by Travel+Leisure as one of the best hotels in the Northeast, this stunning and luxurious hotel offers some holiday cheer in the form of discounted packages for couples during Christmastime. Their holiday getaway package includes an intimate Christmas eve dinner spread right in the convenience of your own suite.

      Hotel Marlowe Let Orchard House be your rustic rescue away from it all this holiday season. Although modern, this quaint little boutique hotel offers individuals the chance to be with somewhere "off the beaten path", even if it's just across the Charles. Part of the Kimpton Hotel Group, Hotel Marlowe offers holiday rates that will surely make your days with them merry.

      Half-off Events during the Holidays

      For a limited time and quantity, these events offer tickets half-off their original value:

      Boston Civic Orchestra Family Holiday Pops Vienna Boys Choir A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O'Donovan Boston Celtics vs. Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden

      Free Events

      Blink! Experience Christmas lights dancing to the tune of the Boston Pop's popular holiday sounds. With over 350,000 decorated LED lights, this free to all show at Faneuil Hall has "screenings" every half hour past 5PM, beginning November 17 until January 2nd.

      Boston Common Tree Lighting A tradition that spans more than 70 years, Boston's mayor officially ignites the lights of the Common's Christmas tree and the park's sprawling grounds. The tree, a yearly gift from the city's friends in Nova Scotia, will be lit this year on Thursday, November 29 at 7PM.

      Fenway Facelift Under Way

      Fenway triangle, The Fens, Target Boston, Lofts, Luxury, Boston, Boston International Real Estate, BIRE, B.I.R.E.It seems that developer Steve Samuels and his group has a lot to be thankful for this year, with work on their proposed mixed-use commercial and residential complex starting to take shape. The planned $325M Fenway Triangle project, strategically located by within the bounds of Brookline Ave, Yawkey Way, and Boylston Street, was approved by city regulators last year, but was stalled due to various revisions of the developer's plans.

      But now that everything has been finalized and the development is set to move forward, Fenway Triangle will soon offer 172 mid- and high-end apartments (much like nearby Trilogy), 230,000 square feet of office space, plenty of underground parking, and most notably an on-street retail center that will be anchored by the first Target store in downtown Boston. The complex will be designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, and will be a multitiered complex, with two buildings joined over a common base of stores and restaurants.

      Fenway triangle, The Fens, Target Boston, Lofts, Luxury, Boston, Boston International Real Estate, BIRE, B.I.R.E.The developers are in the process of demolishing the Goodyear garage, as well as two other nearby buildings in the vicinity to make way for construction. The project is set to be ready for occupancy and completed by end-2013.

      Samuel's group is also responsible for residential complex 1330 Boylston, which includes homes and restaurants such as Citizen Public House and the Japanese grill Basho. After the Fenway Triangle project, the group is also eyeing to develop a 17-story residential building next door at 132 Brookline Avenue. It is initially slated to have 150-200 apartments aimed to service doctors and medical practitioners in the area.

      Housing Market Improving Above Expectations

      If you're looking for something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, then you won't find any better news that the one we've got, as analysts yesterday released figures that showed the housing market is showing signs of continued improvement, even perhaps besting what analysts have earlier projected.

      Data from The National Association of Realtors showed home resales in October climbed 2.1 percent, selling 4.79 million units in total. Even better, the market showed a strengthening in demand for new homes in the broad housing market, encompassing a six-year high in the sales of units in projects being developed and aimed to be delivered within the next three years. The rise in demand beat expectations of Wall Street analysts, and suggests that optimism has returned to the otherwise sluggish housing market. There was also a significant decrease of home sales under distressed conditions including foreclosures and such.

      Even though the bulk of the sales surge occurred in the later quarters, the rise in prices of homes, combined with the faster pace of sales and turnover of properties also show that market has finally turned the corner this year, emerging from the housing mortgage debt bubble burst in 2007.

      The latest housing data also suggested that even though Superstorm Sandy caused some home prices to fall in the Northeast corridor, consumer sentiment is still at peak levels from a year earlier, and would only leave a temporary impact on the market. In fact, home improvement store Lowe's reported a surge in sales, and even suggest that individuals that need to undergo home improvement for damages due to the hurricane are doing "more extensive" work, going beyond what needs to be  repaired and investing in their homes.

      Asked of his expert opinion, Lexington, MA-based IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport divulged that "the housing market is continuing to improve. It's probably improving more than most economists were projecting earlier this year."

      More Homes In Massachusetts By 2020

      South Boston, Seaport District, Construction, Boston International real estate, high-end, luxuryIt seems that even Governor Deval Patrick is optimistic about the recovery of the Boston real estate market, citing his vision of building an additional 10,000 homes over the next seven years.

      The plan, part of a program called Compact Neighborhoods and set to be completed in 2020, will allow young professionals access to housing units in an otherwise overcrowded real estate market. The units are planned to be smartly situated in and around workplace complexes, public transportation, and city village centers.

      If the governor's plan pans out as proposed, the additional housing units (including aptly-sized apartments and condominiums), will more than double the inventory of properties available to the market in the state, especially in saturated Suffolk county in which Greater Boston is situated. The governor aims to keep young residents of the state within its borders, and address the growing concern of young professionals emigrating to different states due to lack of available property and affordability of ones currently on the market.

      Boston enjoys the influx of young, talented individuals pursuing education in their respective fields.. our aim is to keep them here, innovation and building business ventures, even after they have completed their educational aspirations.

      The Governor's plan also incentivizes developers to build more densely, seeking to have at least eight units per acre for multifamily homes, and at least four units per acre for single family homes. Mid- and high-rise developments, on the other hand, must reserve 15 percent of available units to lower-income and first-time home buyers to be eligible for the plan's tax incentives.

      Undoubtedly, the governor's plan is in tandem with Mayor's Menino's vision of providing more housing to Bostonians. Everyone, it seems, agrees with the fact that the city and the state must build more to accommodate current and future demand. And with the development and gentrification of the South side of the city, including the Seaport and Innovation Districts, and the breath of new life in Downtown Crossing and the North End, officials have certainly put in place plans to put Boston back on everyone's property map.

      Neighborhoods By Rental Rate

      Regardless of whether you're looking for a swanky new apartment, or just a simple living space you can call home, Boston's wide array of neighborhoods offer a lot of elbow room you can choose from. Ranging from locations within the city and out into the metro Boston area, the rental climate in Beantown is one that paints a good picture of where you'll find the most bang for your buck, and also where you can live your urban dream at a cost.

      You can say that Boston's neighborhoods are very "segmented" since there are districts that are known for a particular lifestyle. For instance, the South End is known for having residents that have a taste for the gastronomic lifestyle, with all the bakeries and restaurants that surround its streets. Beacon Hill, one of America's oldest neighborhoods, is known for its rich opulence and luxurious living standards. Of course, there are also places that espouse a more independent lifestyle, over the bridge Cambridge being one of them. Allston and Brighton too, shouldn't be forgotten, as much of Boston's student life resides in this all but boring neighborhood.

      Here's an updated list and map of neighborhoods that show the most expensive and the most affordable rental apartments in Boston. Our friends at Zillow compiled this list based on October median rental rates. You can also see how much each neighborhood's rate has increased, compared to last year's rental prices.

       

      High-End Market Update

      South Boston southie Intercon High-end luxury condos Boston International Real EstateWith all the developments and positive news about how the real estate market in Boston as a whole is recovering, you're most likely interested to know how the high-end sector is doing. And regardless of whether you're on the selling side or on a buying binge, you'll be interested to know that luxury properties in the Bay state are fairing well and better than other metropolitan states, yet its recovery is still a tad bit behind the housing market in general.

      While sales of single-family homes increased from 24.8% to 27% during the summer months, properties priced above $1 million or more were up a modest 1.5% from 21.9% to 23.4% in the same period, giving way to the recovery of sales for more moderate homes. Though modest in increase, Boston's luxury real estate market is still doing better than other metropolitan cities, as increase in pick up of properties priced above $ 1 million in Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles were 18.6%, 19.3%, and 22.5%, respectively.

      Perhaps the most logical reason for this is because of inventory - or in simpler terms, the number of units that's available of this calibre. Boston's luxury real estate scene has always withstood recessions and economic downturns, and this is rightly so since the market only has a handful to offer, as most developments either cater to mid-level housing, or have been stalled due to the 2008 downturn. However, soon this is likely to change, as developers play catch up on projects, building mostly in districts where high-end developments are most likely (i.e. Downtown, Back Bay, and Seaport District). In essence, the demand for high-end properties doesn't agree to the supply the city has to offer, limiting their options hence affecting inventory sales. Yet, with the onslaught of new high-rise, high-end condos underway, we predict that it won't be long until the sale of high-end real estate properties supersede sales increases made by single-family homes.

      Data and figures courtesy of MLS and Trulia.

      Bargain Buys From Relocation Sales

      relocation sale relo boston somerville back bay luxury high-endAlmost all homebuyers today are familiar with the ins & outs of traditional property sales as well as the "more contemporary" short sales instituted by banks to load off some of their foreclosed properties. However, only a few know of another type of sale that is often a good means to find bargain property buys: a relocation sale. Usually, these types of properties are listed on the market on a rush basis, for the sole reason that the resident is leaving it behind, and wants a quick cash get away.

      While there are slight differences in the the acquisition process for buying a property that's from a relocation sale, these can have distinct advantages for buyers.

      What is a "relo"? A relo is a home sale that is completed with the help of a relocation firm. These firms are hired by companies to help their transferred employees move. A relo firm might help the transferred employee hire movers and find a rental home. If the employee is a homeowner, the relo firm might help the employee sell the old home.

      Sales assistance is done in two stages. For the first few months the home is on the market, the house usually remains in the employee's name, with the relocation company providing advice on pricing and marketing. If the home isn't sold during that period, the employee's company may totally or partially buy out the property, freeing the employee to buy a home in the new location. After the employer buys the house, the relocation company becomes the chief party in sale negotiations. And once the company takes over, the buyer has a complete advantage because they're dealing with a seller who has no emotional attachment to the property, and would just like to earn back what they spent on acquiring it.

      Are these relo properties cheaper? While relocation sales don't necessarily translate into fire-sale prices, buyers can count on the home to be fairly priced for its market. Usually, companies who uproot and transplant their employees want to dispose of the property as soon as possible, making only what they spent to acquire the property and nothing more. This means that each and every home that's up for a relocation sale, is for a buyer's taking. Relocation properties also tend to be in good condition because most relocation firms recommend needed repairs or do the repairs themselves.

      How to buy a relo Buying a relo property isn't that different from any other traditional sale. However, buyers should prepare for a few new twists:

      Price negotiations may take longer. With normal home sales, the back-and-forth on pricing can last just a few hours as sellers and buyers hurriedly consult with their real-estate agents. But relocation firms typically operate during business hours and might not be available to respond to a weekend offer until Monday.

      Get pre-approved for financing. Buyers are always advised to line up their financing before they start looking for homes, but it's especially important when buying a relo property. Prospective buyers need to show that they are prepared and are in a good position to buy.

      Sell your old home first. If you need to sell your current home before buying another, you should take care of that before trying to buy a home being sold by a relocation firm. The relocation firms often want a nice, contingent-free, clean sale, if at all possible. If your current home is under contract with a buyer but has not closed yet, that's usually acceptable, but be prepared to provide copies of your sales contract and other important information on the expected closing date.

      Be prepared for more paperwork. Relo sales typically require buyers to sign additional riders and amendments to minimize the relocation company's liability. Usually, this translates to having double the number of pages in the contract, as well as exaggerated amounts of signatures.

      Whatever your preference of home is, relocation sales usually occur during months of high employee turnover, specifically right before winter until the weeks leading to Spring, as most businesses hire and transplant new talent in the first half of the year, coinciding with their fiscal calendar.

      In Boston, most of relocation sales happen in and around the outlying neighborhoods. More often than not, these include properties in and around Cambridge, Somerville, Seaport District, and Newton.

      Boston Wharf Sees Redevelopment

      LoveJoy wharf Seaport district South Boston Innovation District Waterfront Boston International Real EstateThere seems to be an abundance of positive news hitting the heels of Boston's recovering real estate market, as more and more projects finally get under way after being stalled for the past four years due to the recession. If you recall, we broke the news about the 21-storey Pier 4 development spearheaded by Houston & Co. in the Seaport District. Continuing this momentum, the Boston Redevelopment Authority announced the partnership of Boston-based Beal Companies, and New York's Related Companies to bring the Lovejoy Wharf Project back to life.

      The $200 million project, situated on the Lovejoy Wharf north of the city and right by North Station, includes both residential and commercial space development. A 14-story condo tower will be erected along a "modernized" 131 Beverly Street, and an office space with 180,000 square feet (rumored to be the new HQ of Converse) will be at 160 Washington Street.

      Originally, Lovejoy Wharf was to be developed in 2008 with clusters of high- to mid-rise condominiums when the recession hit. The project was also subject to dispute, as residents of nearby luxury condo building Strada234 sued. Though a settlement was reached, the developers opted not to pursue the project since the economy was "not at its best".

      However, with renewed signs of the real estate recovery, and new builders behind it, the project will finally commence starting with the conversion of the vacant Hoffman Building at Washington street, to be followed shortly thereafter by the construction of the condominiums that will be west to it.