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      Blog :: 05-2014

      Where The Rents Are Red Hot Right Now

      Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 2.44.17 PMIt seems the bitterly cold break from summer is over (hopefully for the rest of the season!), as temperatures climb back up this weekend, giving way to a glorious next couple of days in the city. And speaking of gorgeous days and wonderful weekends - this weekend might be the best time to go out and do your apartment hunt, if you're planning to move this coming fall that is. Rents are red hot right now, and if forecasters are on the right track - which they usually are - rental rates are poised to go nowhere but up as we approach the peak of renting, buying and selling season.

      In fact, some Boston neighborhoods have already started their ascent into the "danger zone" for renters, especially those on a tight budget. The Seaport District is on the top of that list, with median rents that go as high as $1,633 per bedroom - that's dangerously close to Back Bay's per room median rent of $1,800. Compared to Back Bay though, the Seaport District holds mostly newly-constructed units, which then makes more sense as to why the area is priced that way.

      Aside from the Seaport, another "new" neighborhood that's seeing elevated median rent is East Boston. Compared to last year, rental rates for this fledgling district is up by almost 23%, with a per bedroom price tag of $1,000. This comes as Eastie recently made headlines with regard to its slew of upcoming projects that further solidify the burgeoning future of this once industrial community. Not to be outdone though, the southern tip of Somerville - which borders Charlestown - is also enjoying elevated rents, with rooms going for $1,500 or more. This hike in price may be due to the newly-opened Assembly Square part of town, as it has attracted the attention of high-end buyers and renters. Farther and transit-oriented neighborhoods such as these are slowly but surely gaining momentum nowadays, especially since they capitalize on the "minimal" inventory that's available within the city, which in itself is thankfully becoming a thing of the past, as evidenced by data from real-time listings website RentHop.

      Here's the most current rundown on the landscape and affordability of available properties in Boston and its surrounding suburbs (as of today, May 30th):

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      New Home Sales Rise As Affordability Steepens

      BOS foggyThere's nothing better than starting off summer with some good news: overall sales of properties nationwide and in the Greater Boston area have appreciated in April, signaling the return of the summer buying and selling season in the country. Nationally, new home sales jumped by 6.4%, or an increase of 433,000 units sold compared to the same period last year. Though modest, sales of existing homes also faired a little better compared to March, with an increase of 1.4% compared to previous year.

      Locally, sales in the City of Boston have also faired well - better than analyst's earlier predictions as combined sales of condominiums and single-family homes averaged 1.75% compared to previous year's figures. A total of 412 properties saw exchanges in the marketplace, with median sales price of $461,450. Most of the sales were buoyed by condo sales, as single-family sales dropped 12%, yet again a sign of the weak performance of properties over the long winter that the city saw this year. Average sales price of single-family homes clocked in at $525,000, an almost 10% increase to median sales price of April 2013.

      Though only slightly better than previous month and previous year's performance, the figures are an encouraging sign that housing has shaken off its winter-induced slow down. It's not uncommon to experience this slow down during December-March, especially in the Northeast where winter is usually brutal such that it paralyzes the movement of properties across the New England states.

      Worries About Affordability

      Alongside the good news for the spring season comes a bit of a sting from the appreciating real estate market, specifically in Boston. In particular, worries about how affordable properties have become are circulating, as median prices continue their upward trend - even during the winter months when virtually there is much less demand. As mentioned above, the median price of single-family homes have hit a five-year high of $525,000 in the city. That's a far cry from the whole of Greater Boston's median price of $332,500.

      Realistically speaking, today's local homebuyer must pull in about $110,000-$200,000 a year in order to be able to afford a single-family detached home in and around the City of Boston. A recent article by the Boston Globe shows how affordable exactly homes are for Bostonians, according to their chosen neighborhood. And if you're on the cusp of determining whether you should continue renting in the city or buy your own home, then this tool from the New York Times should give you a clearer picture when calculating whether it's more worth it to buy or rent your place. On average, it's better to buy in the city than to rent - especially if you plan on staying in the property for more than 3 years.

      If you are however, not yet in the market but soon will be, don't fret. Analysts predict that the current median prices should stabilize in the next couple of quarters, as more and more properties are scheduled to be turned over beginning fall this year, all the way up to the end of 2016. In fact, this year alone, there will be 1,248 brand new properties that will hit the market. This number is set to radically increase in 2015 and 2016 - with 2,415 and a staggering 5,443 new apartments to be delivered in the next two years, respectively. With these numbers, it's only prudent for soon-to-be buyers to already start looking around to get a feel of the market before embarking on a house hunt.

      Contact us now for a free no-risk consultation! Call (617) 505-1781 or email us at info@bostonire.com

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        The Real Estate Boom Goes Beyond Boston

        Boston-Aerial-SkylineWe've all known about it for a while - Boston has been seeing rising property values, above and over asking prices, and limited selection of supply. In fact, for months now, the real estate industry has been buzzing about the shortage and what, if any, it could be doing to stifle the region's recovery. But if you only look at the big picture, not all is negative.

        Eastern Massachusetts - particularly towns of nearby Cambridge and Somerville - appear to be heading toward another housing boom that could turn out bigger than the last one in the nineties, when the city's populace turned to these areas for adequate supply of housing both for rent and for sale. This only confirms what we've long known to be the case: when Bostonians are left with a big hole to fill, they turn to its brother city, Cambridge. In fact, the boom has been spread out much farther this time around, and envelopes even Medford, Chelsea, and Charlestown, where construction cranes are going up in a rate not seen in decades, pushing median prices of existing homes on the market 30 percent above the pre-recession levels - that's a huge jump if you think about it for a second: that's a third of your home's value added on to it. A welcome development to sellers in those areas, that's for sure!

        But let's focus our lens on the closest one to Downtown Boston for a second. Cambridge, traditionally the very first one of the outlying neighborhoods to explode when Boston experiences a housing boom, is so hot right now (and in the past year and a half!) that buyers are paying an average of 4 percent above the asking price. This is surely good news on the seller side, especially if you consider the fact that never has Cambridge seen this kind of exchange. It has never exceeded average asking prices during the last two decades. That is a significant change in the overall Boston real estate market, as it impacts not only Cambridge, but also buyers who were once used to "conceding" to properties there when Boston isn't able to offer much.

        On the plus side, however, the price increase doesn't seem to be affecting the appetite of buyers. In fact, properties in Cambridge have been selling like pancakes and in cash, lasting an average of only eight days on the market before they're snapped up - a far cry from the norm of 50 to 70 days during the peak of Cambridge's housing boom in the 90's.

        Despite this growth, nearby Bostonian suburbs still suffer from a tight inventory, mainly due to the whole region's slow response to demand and population growth. In fact, its been noted that with just a 4 percent improvement in local economy in Massachusetts, and housing inventory is sure to tighten up within the next three months preceding the economic upward trend. That's how limited the city and its suburb's total inventory is nowadays.

        In terms of median prices, Cambridge has already climbed 23 percent in just two years, now clocking in at $600,000 for a unit, regardless of whether it is a single-family or a condominium. This makes first-time home buying even more so difficult for prospective property hunters. It creates bidding wars and offers well beyond the norm (read as "payment in full cash").

        Yet, it's not only Cambridge that's been experiencing this boom. Other communities near the Cambridge & Boston markets have experienced similar trends. Jamaica Plain, South Boston, Charlestown, Somerville, and Newton have also hit pricing levels above pre-recession peaks.

        Though the boom the city and nearby suburbs are experiencing are quite uplifting given the last four six years of drought for the property sector, it's not all rosy across the state just yet. Average home prices across the state is still down 9 percent from its pre-recession highs. They are however, getting there, are may suburban towns are inching closer to their previous peak levels.

        So, if you're still looking for "bargain buys", it might be worth your time to look not just downtown, but across Eastern and Western parts of Boston and Cambridge - neighborhoods like Charlestown, Medford, Newton, and even Alewife! These spots are sure to still have some pretty good buys, considering everything. It's either that or way it out and risk even greater price tags.

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        Our 12 Month Guide To Home Buying

        BOS Sunset by the SeaFirst-time home buyers have it tough. Not only are they competing with seasoned sellers and cash-laiden buyers, but also greatly because the supply of homes for sale is tight, and lenders are even more tightfisted.

        We all know that the main issue most first-time home buyers are facing is their debt; their student debt, in particular. Currently at an all-time high of nearly $30,000 per grad, that amount is getting in the way of young professionals saving for a down payment. However, market conditions indicate that that factor in itself hasn't stop the next generation of property owners from getting their foot in the door, literally. Two out of five prospective home buyers these days aren't even in the market for a home - at least not yet.

        As can be seen in today's vibrant Bostonian market, young families and first-time homebuyers begin their search months ahead of their intended property purchase. Although they sometimes get discouraged seeing cash-only deals and above-asking exchanges, they at least expose themselves to the process.

        So what does it take to see that for sale sign taken down on the property you've been eyeballing? Well, we believe it's a combination of two factors: your agent's ability to be fierce during negotiations, and of course, your favorable finances. And as we'd like to tell our clients, there's no need to worry at all about the first one - it's the latter that needs your most dire attention. Here are some useful tips for your financial planning, designed to be a year in advance for your intended purchase.

        A YEAR IN ADVANCE

        financial-healthMake sure the time is right. Use online rent or buy calculators to see if you'd really come out ahead, based on loan rates, taxes, and where rents and prices are headed in your area. Nationwide it's 38% cheaper buying vs. renting. In Boston, it's 34% (as of this writing). Still a substantial amount cheaper than having to pay for something you won't have a stake in for the long-run.

        Clean up your act. Devote this year to saving money and paying down debt. You'll need at least 3.5% down for an FHA loan, or 10% to 20% for a conventional mortgage. Lenders also like to see job stability, so settle in for now. If you can, try with your current employer. And if that's just getting in the way of your career's direction, then it's not an issue to change employers - just make sure that the company you're jumping to has a better compensation package in store for you.

        Learn what you like. When a home catches your eye - whether it's a full-fledged listing, a photo, or simply an ad -- pin it to your dream home board. It doesn't matter if it's a traditional cork board, a wall on your place, or even on your phone and on the cloud - all that matters is that you have a peg of what you're looking for! Another good tip is to create your own "dream home board" on Pinterest. Not only will you be able to pull it up at a moment's notice, but you can explore so many other inspirational pegs on the site. That should keep you focused on what exactly you'll be in the market for when the time comes.

        SIX MONTHS OUT

        Look better to lenders. To boost your credit score, order your free credit reports at annualcreditreport.com and fix any mistakes you may find in it. Pay bills on time, chip away at credit card balances, avoid new debt, and don't close any accounts or apply for new credit. The average credit score for approved mortgage applicants is 755.

        Figure out what you can buy. Use an online calculator like the one at Zillow.com to estimate how much house you can afford based on your income, savings, and debts. That'll help you research homes and drill down on costs.

        Forecast future bills. With an idea of how big a house you can buy, you can do a more detailed budget. Scan listings for property taxes on homes you like. Get an early estimate on  homeowners insurance. Ask your agent to canvass how much your street's average utility bills come out to. And tack on 1% of the home's value for yearly maintenance.

        THREE MONTHS OUT

        mortgage-increasePick your loan. Fixed mortgage rates, currently at 4.4%, may edge up to 5% this year, as forecasted by HSH.com. If you are confident this is a starter home, you can save with a 7/1 adjustable-rate loan, now at 3.5%. The risk: You end up staying longer than seven years and rates rise sharply. Most, 92% of mortgage borrowers to be exact, opt for fixed-rate loans.

        Prove you're a serious shopper. Based on your income and credit, a bank will give you a mortgage pre-approval. Remember to keep it with you at all times of your property hunt, and keep updating them as well as the months draw nearer to your intended buying season. Remember, it's the No. 1 thing you want in your back pocket when you go home shopping, at least if you're coming in with a mortgage. Even better in a hot market: Pay a few hundred to go through underwriting upfront.

        Find a guide.  Finally, look for a realtor who has worked in the neighborhood where you hope to live. And in a tight market like today's, ask candidates firms what their strategies are for unearthing listings and handling potential bidding wars.

        Contact us now to find out how we can help you! Call (617) 505-1781 or email us at info@bostonire.com to set up a risk-free consultation!

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        Boston's Best of Nightly Rooftop Rendezvous

        The sun is shining and the temps outside are pushing 70 degrees. And that means exactly what you think it means - it's officially and finally rooftop season in Boston! This no doubt is great news since after a long struggle with winter, our fair city's residents are once more ready to be outside again, surrounded by the skyline, the sea, and the hot sun.

        And with summer right literally just around the corner, there's no better time than now to start planning your rooftop rendezvous. Many of Boston's rooftops are already open, with others  soon to follow - just in time for warmer weather. From luxurious rooftop pools, stunning views and cabanas to cocktails, sports, and brews - there's something for everyone when it comes to Bostonian rooftops.

        To make your life a little easier, we've taken the liberty of rounding up the ones where you should be lounging and right now. We've also compiled a list of nearby apartment buildings, if you decide to be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from these gorgeous rooftops.

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        Market Update: Condo Affordability Dwindles

        twtr1 As we reported last month, median prices of single-family homes have hit a snag, particularly trailing behind condominium sales in its fourth month. In that same article, we elaborated how condo sales have been the "savior" of the real estate recovery this past winter season, with units being snatched up from the already-low inventory as soon as listings come in. This pushed condo prices to all-time highs, even passing median home values that of single-family homes. That's also why we shed light on the fact that if this trend continued, it will only be a matter of time when condos might cost too much for willing buyers out there. That time, it seems is fast approaching.

        As the spring and summer market takes off, the gentle equilibrium between the price of single-family homes and condominiums must be maintained, otherwise there won't be much to purchase in the market. This is already apparent nowadays. The median price of condos put under agreement in April in the Greater Boston area was $319,000. That's just a shade below the median price for single-family homes put under agreement last month, which weighed in at $320,000.

        This then translates to buyers becoming more aware of the options (or lack thereof) they have out there. And there isn't much that fits a modest man's budget. Interestingly enough though, condominium properties have been, in reality, appreciating at a much faster rate than detached homes in the last year. For April, it went up almost 12% compared to figures last year, more than four times the rate single-family homes have been escalating (2.3%)! At this point in time, it is only a matter of time - another month of increase like this will do - when condos will surpass home prices. The real question is: would it be able to sustain it?

        Overall, pending sales of both homes and condos were up markedly in April. The number of homes put under agreement set a new record last month and more condos are now poised to change hands, something that the industry hasn't witnessed since the 2007/2008 financial crisis.

        And while condos remain popular among investors and first-time buyers, they now face a growing competition as interest from the Baby boomer market - particularly those entering retirement, are helping drive up condo sales and prices. And given the scarcity of entry-level homes, buying a smaller single-family home just isn't a practical retirement move.

        The most important thing to remember these days, especially if you're planning to buy, sell, or generally just be in the market for a property - is that condo price increases stem from the overheated Boston market. It will reach an all-time high soon, and at which point will either stabilize or falter. Either way, right here right now conditions would lead buyers to overstretch their already maxed out budgets.

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        Where and What? The Hottest Amenities In Boston & Cambridge Right Now

        With the spring and summer rental market perking back up, apartment hunters are again on the prowl for properties that get the most bang out of their buck. After all, who doesn't want to live in an apartment building that not only suits your every need, but also provides amenities and common spaces that offer conveniences much like if you owned your own home. Lucky for us Bostonians, buildings such as these have arrived.

        In comparison to last year's peak rental season, more than ten apartment buildings have debuted, making greater amenities accessible to many. Take for instance, the Atmark Apartments in Cambridge, or the Victor, and The Arlington. Not only do these buildings feature high-end finishes, awesome amenities, and five-star services - but they also offer the most basic item on each apartment hunter's list: great location.

        And with the summer months fast approaching, it's not only the kelvin that's rising, but also interest in these buildings. In fact, since these buildings have been on the market, approximately 35-40% of units across the board have already been leased out. Why and what's the hurry? Well, here's a sneak peek of the alluring amenities these buildings feature that make living in them not only worth it, but also worthwhile:

        Do any of these sound good to you? Check out listings in The Victor, The Kensington, Atmark Apartments, The Watermark Kendall West, and The Arlington now and schedule a preview of your next rental property.

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        Home Shopping: Should You Just Buy New?

        South-End-HomesIt's no secret that Boston is home to a lot of history. That's why recently, the city was named the "Oldest Home Capital of the Country" by real estate giant Trulia. And with today's state of inventory, we're looking to give you insight and assess whether given the shortage in supply - it's smart to buy new, or snap up seasoned homes in Boston's borders.

        To give you a better appreciation of why Boston was named King of Dated Homes, let's take a look at why we hold the crown for having the most number of veteran properties in the country: According to Trulia's national survey of American homes' evolution throughout the decades, a quarter to a third of the homes in the Greater Boston market were built before 1940; illustrating how Boston, as a living thriving city, goes way back in history.

        In particular, the survey revealed that the North Shore holds the most number of old homes in the whole country, with 32% of properties in the area built before the year 1900. Boston city proper, on the other hand, places No. 2 on the list, with just under 30 percent of all homes having built before 1940 and almost 10 percent pre-dating 1900. All of this data makes it look like Bostonian homes are ancient. Well, in a way they are and they aren't. Most of these homes have been gutted, totally renovated, or have been carefully maintained throughout the years - otherwise the city would've already condemned them. Some even look completely new, without a trace of age. of course are those however that show signs of age, adding a little history - and for some, charm to the property.

        Needless to say, new developments have also taken over a good portion of the city since after the 1980s and are continually reshaping the city's skyline. And however true it is that newer properties are harder to come by nowadays because of the recent recession, they are in fact available -- but for a little, or in some isolated cases - a lot extra, of course. This then begs the question: should I consider buy new? Well, let's look at these factors:

        SALES PRICE Winner: Draw

        All else being equal, new structures typically command 10% to 15% premiums over similar existing places. You're unlikely to be making an equal comparison, however because of the numerous factors that you'd have to consider. Especially in an old city like Boston, most centrally-located parcels of lots already have existing homes and structures. Newer developments, though there are a few, can be located elsewhere in the city, in areas that are being groomed to be an extension of the metropolis (i.e. Seaport District, South and East Boston, etc.) and are most often priced equally as ones in central locations. One thing we could advice is to check the numbers on both the lot size and the layout and compare the properties' per square feet asking price. A spacious existing home that's overflowing with the current owners' stuff can look cramped, whereas builders use lots of tricks, such as putting in full beds instead of kings or queens and removing interior doors, to make a new home's space seem larger than it really is. Be sure to take these considerations in mind when you're previewing a prospective home.

        SPEED OF SALE Winner: Existing Homes

        Most builders today are selling new homes from models or showrooms. Once you agree to buy, the actual construction begins. For new high-rise developments, showroom sales are such a common practice that home buyers sometimes forget that it'll take a while before the unit gets delivered. The upside: There are still lots of ways to personalize the home, such as adding extra storage or creating an office. But the finished product probably won't be ready for six to nine months, which can be tough for those who need to move in soon. Timing the purchase is also a challenge when you're looking at a waiting period - it impacts your financial outlook, as well as other aspects of your life that is comes bounded to your physical location. With existing homes, there's no extended waiting period aside from the paperwork of the transaction, so you can easily plan out your financial and physical whereabouts right after signing (or sometimes before!) the necessary paperwork. In fact, you can even list your current space the minute your offer gets accepted.

        COST OF OWNERSHIP Winner: New Homes

        After a few decades, roofs get leaky and boilers go bust. You'll spend an average of $18,000 on a new roof, according to Remodeling magazine, and $3,000 for a furnace. But, with newer homes, this is not a concern. In fact, new homes carry lower utility bills. Energy use per house has fallen over the past decade in part thanks to changes to building energy codes, which call for more insulation and tighter sealing, and should fall further in new homes. Some of Boston's older homes are so poorly isolated that energy bills go through the roof. It's a fact that newly-constructed homes on average, is 30% to 40% more efficient than existing homes, making them less costly to maintain since its purchase. So it all boils down to chance if the existing home you're looking at has been well-maintained or needs a little work. Just remember, newer homes will always have an advantage in this category, whichever way you look at it.

        CHANCE FOR SHORT-TERM GAINS Winner: Existing

        While handy homeowners can reap the benefits of sweat equity (read: fixer uppers), a new home offers very little room for improvements and is likely to sell for about the same price as others around it. New homes are for the most part based on a set of conforming architectural styles of the period they were built in and are confined to price structures of that time. Prefer new? It can pay to buy into a development early, since builders usually raise prices as construction progresses (particularly if the homes prove popular). The risk is that there's no guarantee how the neighborhood will turn out. But if you're buying in an established district - Downtown Crossing, for instance, buying units at pre-selling price and then disposing them once turned over can also lead to profit. Just don't expect it to be as much as when you buy an existing home and do renovations yourself prior to flipping.

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        How To Find The Almost Perfect Rental

        Back BayWe all know it: finding a rental is tricky. Major metropolitan cities, such as Boston, have a notorious reputation of giving apartment hunters a challenging time when it comes to offering rental properties that suit a prospective renter's needs, wants, and ultimately what they can afford.

        And as the battle of quality inventory continues to rage on, the pressure for renters mounts even more. But not all is lost - as spring and summer dawn, more listings become active. This is what is quite unique about the Boston rental market - as school winds down, the movement of students gives rise to more available properties and lease transfers. The key thing to remember is to have a strategy when you're about to embark on an apartment hunt. Here are some steps to help you improve your search for a rental home.

        Set priorities

        Before beginning your search, decide what kind of rental best fits your needs. Renters with pets, for example, should consider leasing from private owners rather than multi-family property managers. Although it's a given that most buildings have strict rules regulating pet ownership, this is even more so the case for multi-family properties as their is a limited set of tenants residing in a multi-family home. 

        You should also pay close attention to amenities and exterior features before making final decisions. As much as possible, have an extra eye and ear out for high rises and rentals in noisy environments, or rentals with close proximity to freeways or train tracks. Unless that's what you're searching for, the likelihood of finding a quite living space along developments such as these are close to nil.

        Consider budgets

        Calculate your rental budget by bearing in mind size requirements and locations preferences. Additional amenities -- including updated appliances and granite countertops -- cost extra, but may be worth the added comfort. If your plan to move to Boston isn't until 2016, then you're in luck - the city has been cracking down on "outdated" properties that pose a risk, and requires all rentals to have an "updated status" in two years.

        Also, keep in mind that while you should spend enough on a rental to be happy, you shouldn't put yourself in a financial bind just to live in a luxurious abode. This is especially the case nowadays with the inventory shortage, as landlords have jacked up the price in order to capitalize on the demand.

        A good indication of whether you will be able to sustain your rental is to make sure that your monthly rent does not exceed, at maximum, 35-40% of your monthly income. Although daunting, this figure is quite the average for key metropolitan cities. In fact, 43% of Boston's residents belong to this category, about 20% lower than New York City or Washington, DC.

        Compare properties

        Make sure you are getting a fair arrangement by comparing your prospective apartment with other properties on the market. The best advise we could truly give you is to allocate ample time for your search. Do your research, too, as this greatly helps narrow down where you should look. Sometimes, even though a neighborhood might have a lot of available rental properties, the quality is not to your liking.

        Start looking three to four months before you need a place to live in. The more time you have to prepare, the better place you will get. We've seen all too many cases when clients rushed and forced themselves into a lease. Though it is possible to locate something within a short timeframe, it's always better to sign a lease to a property you've fallen in love with, as it mitigates future stress of moving again.

        Starting early always gives you the chance to weigh out all opportunities and options that lay before you. Also, always remember that two comparable properties can vary substantially in price depending on their respective locations, so don't automatically assume that smaller, more expensive apartments are necessarily bad deals.

        Negotiate your lease

        Always attempt to get the most out of your lease. For example, a lessee may be able to receive a designated parking spot or storage space at no additional cost, or have extra storage made available to you.

        Be frugal and realistic at the same time. Any outstanding real estate agency should provide you with information about the current rental market and the advantages or disadvantages of landlords based on the market. We always stress the importance of being informed to our clients, since at the end of the day, our recommendation can be good as any's, and you alone can determine the fit of a property.

        With that in mind, we urge all of our clients to negotiate, but ever only slightly. Keep in mind that good rentals don't have much of a discount available because there is plenty of demand. In truth, extremely demanding candidates can be a red flag for property management companies, and you don't want to drive them to consider more easygoing applicants.

        Attend walk-throughs

        Don't be shy about checking out potential apartments before locking them down. For instance, we insist our clients - whether here or looking remotely, to see properties that we have a good feeling will fit their search preferences. Just to give you a rundown, almost all of our deals reach a "make or break" point when clients actually see the property. For those searching remotely, we usually schedule a preview via video call, so they can still appreciate the property without being there physically.

        Lucky for us this hasn't happened, but some Bostonian renters have come out since the city became stricter with landlords and property management, saying that there are damages on their rental that they failed to notice during their initial walk-through. This could potentially cause enormous stress between you and your landlord. Make sure that when you do attend a walk-through, to make mental notes about things that you've noticed that need working. Include that in the condition statement before signing your lease, to avoid any misunderstandings with your landlord because neglected repairs are huge inconveniences -- especially when they involve expected amenities that are included in the cost of rent.

        Need help with your search? Talk to us! Call us at (617) 505-1781 for a free consult and market update. You can also email or tweet us @BostonIRE.

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        How Much & Where? Boston Rental Rates From Top To Bottom

        Boston MorningThe sun is officially out and springtime is blooming beautifully in Boston. What does that mean? Well, in a massive college town like ours, that only leads to one thing: summer break. Do you know what else? An abundance of rental units - or at least the opportunity to consider it - as students take a break from collegiate life and vacate their rental properties. And whether you're looking to move, buy, or rent, it's always good to have an extra eye out for neighborhoods where you get the most for your money. Here's a round up of both the priciest and the most sensible areas to rent, or invest in.

        For the latter, it would be a good idea to look around these neighborhoods, as rents historically have better, more consistent return in these more "centrally located" pockets of the city. If you own property in any of these areas, we suggest you also consider divesting as numerous buyers are lurking around, practically prepared to dig deep into their pockets to get a piece of the "promised land". Why? Probably because these are also neighborhoods that have a diverse mix of commercial and residential spaces - as well as a good mash up of professionals and students alike, serving up a rosy picture of potential.

        Interestingly and historically, Boston has always belonged to the exclusive list of metropolitan cities that experience rising rents, no matter the economic circumstance. The city's student population is so huge that landlords have an assortment of applications to choose from. In fact, the overall Boston rental market increased 11% the first quarter of this year, pegging median rental price at $2,071. East Boston, though still within the "reasonable" range, saw the greatest price hike, clocking in at 12.6%. Perennially property hotspot Back Bay however, saw its rental rates decline by 1.4%, with South Boston surpassing its median rental price by just $10 bucks.

        BOSTON MEDIAN RENT LIST PRICE: $2,071 As of March 31, 2014

        ABOVE MEDIAN PRICE

        South End          $2,850 South Boston     $2,760 Back Bay             $2,750 Charlestown       $2,650 North End          $2,545 Fenway                $2,410 Jamaica Plain    $2,400 Allston                $2,240

        However, if you're like any normal Joe just plainly looking for a change in living space, or are new to the city, these "hot spots" are considered excellent neighborhoods for starters as well. It gives you a good taste of the city, without the bitterness of big rents. Investors shouldn't shun away from these neighborhoods, too, as properties in these areas also consistently producing gold coins from the thriving student population, even when classes are on recess. This comes as the city is continually sprawling outward (with special mention to neighborhoods East and West of downtown Boston).

        BELOW MEDIAN PRICE

        Kenmore           $2,060 Brighton            $2,020 East Boston      $1,950

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