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      Blog :: 08-2014

      Celebrating Summer's Last Hurrah In Boston

      wpid7087-sailing-boston-harborLabor Day comes with some certainties - summer is about to end, you aren't working Monday, and you're definitely not looking forward to the droves of movers flooding the streets. What you may not know is what you're doing for the long weekend. And for those of you who are still in pumpkin season denial mode, rejoice: it's not all over quite just yet. You have three full days to make the most of summer's last hurrah while it's still warm and sunny outside. Here are a couple of not-so lame Labor Day gigs in and around town you can check out before summer does:

      Friday, August 29th: There's no better way to cure the end-of-summertime blues than with a good old brewfest. From 6-9:30pm, drink your way through 100 beers from 30+ guild member breweries at the World Trade Center Headhouse Concourse (Seaport District). All of your faves will be there, including Clown Shoes, Idle Hands, Jack's Abby, Notch, Portico, and Bad Martha. Be sure to try the limited-release event brew: a single-malt pale ale brewed by guild members with all local ingredients at Mayflower Brewing Company. Get your tickets here.

      Friday, August 29th-Monday, September 1st: The North End knows how to party, and the annual St. Anthony's Feast over Labor Day weekend proves it. And then some. Dubbed the "Feast of all Feasts" by National Geographic (they should know), this 95-year-old tradition boasts 100 food vendors overflowing with Italian specialties like pizza, pasta, arancini, calamari, zeppole, cannoli, and gelati. If you leave hungry, you screwed up.

      Saturday, August 30th: Beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 30, fireworks will once again light up the Boston skyline. For the second year running, the City of Boston and Summer on the Waterfront will team up this Labor Day weekend to host the Boston Harbor fireworks. For more information, check out the website here.

      Saturday, August 30th: Want a grand view of the fireworks away from the thousands of spectators? Grab a front row seat at Del Frisco's Double Eagle (Seaport District) and enjoy the rocket's red glare with a sizzling steak. Del Frisco's is offering their summer Prime Pair menu (an 8oz hand-cut filet with a seafood side-car, choice of three salads, and a side) and the appropriately named "Jose Can You See" cocktail. America!

      Saturday, August 30th: And if you'd rather be on a boat for the pyrotechnics, Entertainment Cruises will take you out on the big blue watery road. The Spirit of Boston or the Odyssey will take you out to sea while drinking, dining, and dancing. Both cruises are three-hours long and feature live entertainment.

      Saturday, August 30thThe Greatest Bar and Boston VIP Listinvite you to celebrate the unofficial last weekend of summer at theHottest Saturday Night Party. With four floors, three bars, and a DJ (with two turntables and a microphone), you should have no problem forgetting all about the shorter days... mostly because they become longer nights. $10 cover. Bonus: score $25 off your firstLyft ride by downloading the app and entering the promo code "BostonVIPList".


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      Boston Properties In July Experience The Jitters

      As news last week broke of the double-digit growth of new construction homes across the US with strong contributions and significant sales strides in the Northeast, optimism for the property market also grew. This week however, numbers for July's Greater Boston property market have just been released, and it seems that existing properties fell short of the expectations set with numbers from the previous week. Granted there are numerous explanations why the market is down from last year - new versus existing properties being one of them, and lack inventory being among others - there are still very positive points to consider. Before we get down to the details, let's first take a look at what we're dealing with.

      SINGLE-FAMILY HOME MARKET Sales of detached single-family homes declined on an annual basis for a seventh consecutive month in July though more modestly than in any of the previous six months this year, slipping 2.3 percent over year ago levels to 1,455 homes sold in July 2014. The last time home sales fell for seven consecutive months was December 2008 - June 2009.

      Remarkably, despite the drop in year-over-year sales, last month's sales total is the second best ever for the month of July in Greater Boston, surpassed only by the record high of 1,489 single-family homes sold just 12 months earlier in July 2013. A healthy local job market, record high rents, and the steady recovery in home values over the past two years are helping to keep sales strong. Record low mortgage rates are also aiding, and a later than normal start to this year's spring housing market has allowed buyer activity to remain steady this summer. That's proven by the fact that single-family home sales also rose modestly on a month-to-month basis by 2.7 percent from June's 1,417 detached homes sold.

      The monthly median selling price for single-family homes increased for a twenty-second consecutive month in July, appreciating 3.2 percent on an annual basis to $550,000. It's the first time since March 2004 - December 2005 that the single-family median home selling price has risen for such an extended period. Notably, last month's median selling price sets a new all-time high for July, passing the previous record high median selling price for the month set last year when the median price of homes sold was $576,500. Although this reflects a decrease of 4.6 percent in the median price on a month-to-month basis, the July median selling price of $550,000 is still up 57 percent from March 2009, when home values bottomed out at $350,000 during the recession.

      The average list time for homes sold increased for the first time in over two years in July, however the typical home remained on the market for less than two full months for a third straight month.  Single-family homes sold last month were on the market an average of 52 days, compared to 47 days in July 2013.

      The inventory of single-family homes for sale continues to trail historic data, declining on an annual basis by nearly 3.3 percent in July and by 27 percent in the past 24 months. It's the thirty-third time in the past 34 months the number of homes listed for sale has dropped from the same month one year earlier, and with 2,784 listings on the market as of July 31 the supply of homes for sale entering August is at its lowest level in more than a decade. This brings the total supply in terms of months at 1.9 months of supply in July, a healthy and stable figure for the past 12 months.

      CONDOMINIUM MARKET Sales activity in the condo market declined on a year-on-year basis for a third consecutive month in July, decreasing 10.5 percent from 1,252 units closed in July 2013 to 1,121 condos sold this July. While this decrease is more than double the 4.7 percent sales decline observed one month earlier in June, it is worth noting that July 2013 was the second busiest July on record for condo sales in Greater Boston. So, even though sales activity was off by double-digits last month, the 1,121 condos sold this July is the fourth highest sales total for the month ever observed, exceeded only by July 2005 (1,268 units closed), July 2013 (1,252 units closed), and July 2004 (1,187 units closed).

      Unlike the detached single-family market, condominium sales also slowed on a month-to-month basis in July, declining 7.1 percent from 1,207 units closed in June. The decrease is due in large part to the limited supply of condos for sale, which was down 12.3 percent from June and by nearly one quarter (24%) from July 2013. The lack of listings reflects the popularity of the condo market, where demand is especially strong among suburban empty-nesters looking to relocate to Boston, as well as with investors, and renters looking to become first-time homeowners.

      The median selling price for condominiums rose steadily on an annual basis for a seventeenth consecutive month in July, increasing 7.4 percent over the past year to a new all-time high median price for July of $430,000. That tops the previous high median price for the month set a year ago when the median selling price was $400,000. The last time the median selling price for condos rose for 17 straight months on a year-to-year basis was August 2004 - December 2005.

      As previously stated, the condo market has been the victim of an insufficient inventory of listings to meet current buyer demand and that's fueling much of the steady appreciation in condo prices since the beginning of last year. As a result, sellers are benefitting. The percentage of original list price to selling price hit 100 percent for a third consecutive month in July, meaning the typical condo owner was able to sell their unit for the full amount of their original asking price.

      Although the median selling price for condos declined 4.4 percent on a month-to-month in July, that's down from the all-time high monthly median price of $450,000 observed in June which in itself was already a record breaker.

      The average time for condominiums to sell increased on an annual basis for a second consecutive month in July, increasing by 11 days from 38 days on the market last July to 49 days on the market in July 2014. Average market time also increased on a month-to-month basis in July modestly from an average of 44 days in June, offering additional evidence that the shortage of listings is slowing sales and hindering buyers' ability to jump into the housing market.

      The number of condos on the market declined for a thirty-sixth consecutive month in July, declining 24 percent to 1,425 condos for sale, and by nearly half (48%) since July 2012. Like the single-family market, the current inventory of condos for sale is the lowest monthly listing total in more than a decade, and has been remained persistently below 2,000 units for sale for 16 of the past 19 months. At the current sales pace there is just a 1.3 month supply of condos available for sale, which continues a steady decline from year ago levels when there was a 1.5 month supply in July 2013. As a result, it's clear that the on-going shortage of listings continues to put upward pressure on prices and is preventing an even healthier rebound in sales activity from occurring, especially in suburb communities where few new units are being built.

      Data and figures provided by the Greater Boston Association of Realtors and Greater Boston Real Estate Board


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      A Few Facts Before Moving Into A Boston Apartment

      BOSAs summer draws to a close, many people make changes with the season. It's a big time for moving as college students return to town and as many families scramble to get settled in new homes before school begins. If you'll be making a move, here are some smart questions to keep in mind.

      Gas, electricity, water - someone has to pay for them, and depending where you rent, it could be you. Older properties typically include some form of utility with the rent (think heat and hot water) while newer properties may have the residents responsible for their own gas, electricity, and water. Eco-friendly properties are popping up everywhere and are designed to keep energy costs low by providing energy efficient light fixtures, shower heads, programmable thermostats and "low-e windows" (they maintain interior heat in the winter while blocking out hot, ultraviolet rays in the summer).

      It could potentially include first month, last month, security deposit, and the broker's fee. Up front move in costs can be confusing. It is important to know the amount of the security deposit required for the apartment as well as any additional payments that will be needed before signing the lease. Every property and landlord are different: some may require first and last month's rent in addition to a security deposit while others may only ask for a security deposit equal to half month's rent.

      Just because you may have moved outside of Boston doesn't mean there is no way back in. A lot of newer properties are being built within walking distance of commuter rail and T stations while others provide private shuttle services to the local commuter rail station. In fact, there's even a name to this trend: Transit-oriented developments. So be sure to ask how far the closet stops are and test them out yourself before you sign on the dotted line.

      It is important to remember that just because a property is pet-friendly it doesn't mean that all breeds are welcome. Make sure to ask if your dog's specific breed is allowed on the property before putting down a deposit. You will want to ask how much the property charges for pet rent and if an additional pet deposit is required. If you have more than one pet, make sure to mention this as most properties have a two pet maximum.

      When you are renting an apartment it is important to remember you are renting everything that comes with it--the washer, dryer, stove, refrigerator and even the light bulbs. Find out if maintenance services are included with the rent and what windows of time they are provided. Usually, the landlord - or somebody in their stead, maybe a property manager - takes care of everything that comes with your lease. This information should be displayed on the bottom of the first page of your lease under the "Other Remarks" section.

      If you're moving on a whim, have to quickly relocate for work, or just sold all your furniture and want to start fresh, a furnished apartment is the way to go. Many properties have contracts with furnishing companies and can offer beautifully furnished apartments which include everything from king size beds to kitchen utensils.

      A majority of first time renters assume all leases are a standard 12 months and must begin on the first of the month. That's not true. Many properties offer short term leasing options, some as short as one month. Although there are usually premiums added onto the monthly rent, they are great options for people who are in a bind. Short term leases are a great way to know you have a somewhere to stay while not feeling locked into a long commitment.

      Inquire about all possible payment options, specifically if the property offers online payment. Signing up for autopay is a great way to avoid late payments and leave you with one less thing to worry about. Bank of America offers this service for free. Dubbed BillPay, they will auto debit your account and send the check to your landlord at a recurring frequency that you'll set. Another option if you don't have a BofA account is to enroll with WilliamPaid, a free site that does exactly the same as BillPay, but with any other bank accounts.

      Parking is an important question most people forget to ask. Never assume parking is included and always ask if parking (specifically how many parking spots) comes with the apartment. If parking is limited, you may be charged additional rent for a second car or maybe even both cars depending on the property. Also, do not assume everywhere offers guest parking and inquire as to where guests can park and if off street parking is an option.

      Last but not least (and this only applies if you're just in the inquiry stage), ask about what floor the apartment is on. Specifically, ask whether it's a walk-up and if there's an elevator. We've seen our fair share of clients getting surprised that they have to trek up to that dream apartment they saw online.

      Still looking for a September move-in? Check out these affordable 1-bedroom options for you in the Back Bay, South End, and Downtown Boston.


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            As US Home Construction Rises, So Too, Do Boston High Rises

            Boston Sailboats TwtrBy now, you've heard of the good news that hit the housing market this week: new home construction in July has risen a whopping 15.7 percent across the country, hitting an eight-month high that has stirred up excitement that the real estate market is regaining momentum after two months of decline.

            Compared to the same period last year, July 2014 saw 1.09 million new homes constructed within the span of a month. Issuance of permits - also a sign of increasing future construction activity - also jumped by more than 8 percent. Broken down nationally, the increase and strength in construction rebound translates to 8.3 percent increase for single-family homes, and a massive 33 percent increase for apartment construction - certainly a great sign of the reality of the property sector's rebound.

            Amongst all the major regional markets, the Northeast (to which Boston obviously belongs to), led the increase in constructions, coming in with 44 percent more constructions in July this year compared to the same period in 2013. Though not all of the new construction have gone off the market yet, there are definitely signs that developers are pursuing in order for them to heavily invest in projects. Positive sentiment and confidence for the housing market - both locally and nationally - are at an all-time high, too.

            With all of this great new construction news comes the need to look at what is still deterring regular folk from purchasing homes that are newly-built? Well, market watchers believe that a mixture of fluctuating prices, higher mortgage rates, and weak work growth are the three most important factors that affect homebuyer's decision to go for newly-built than previously-owned. These factors, according to real estate moguls, are particularly affecting first-time home buyers who still have lingering fear of going into the market from the not-so recent housing market collapse of  2008.

            One sure good thing that is coming out of the increase in newly-constructed homes however, is the number of job it creates for the masses. According to The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo - each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, making the real estate cycle go round and round from laborer to homebuyer.


            govt-center1With all of this welcome positive news about last month's stellar performance for newly-built homes, we couldn't help ourselves but to think of all the high rise home complexes that are also being built for delivery within the coming quarters. It seems that almost all of Boston's neighborhoods are responding quite nicely to the real estate rebound, given that most can only go and grow upward. From Back Bay, to South End, to Fenway and even as "far" away as Somerville, there seems to be a lot to look forward to in the city - and if you're about to get on board the market, then here are some of the tallest homes under construction in the city you should be inclined to checking out (or at least read about).

            We've known for a while now that the Christian Science Plaza Tower would likely become the tallest skyscraper project in town, but its only recently that we've gotten more details of the project. For instance, the total height of the building has been under wraps until The Boston Globe revealed that it'll be less than a foot short of 700 feet - coming in first place as the tallest residential tower in town. Overall though, the tower will only be the third-tallest in the city, coming in behind commercial towers Prudential and the Hancock building.

            IMG-Millennium BOS4Just to rehash, the Christian Science Plaza tower is a $700 milliondevelopment by Carpenter & Co and is designed by renowned architect Henry Cobb. It's set to have its first 20 floors of first-class hotel accommodations, with 211 lavish rooms for guests to lazy around in.  The rest of its 60 stories will be dedicated condos, all-in-all totaling to 180 units, all of which will be managed by Four Seasons. Talk about a high-end high-rise!

            Next up is the hotly-anticipated 625-foot Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing. With that planned height, the tower is most likely come in at 4th place overall compared to other Boston skyscrapers, and second tallest for purely residential buildings. Its 56 stories will have a combined retail, commercial, and residential space, with 450 luxury condo units in total. It comes in the heels of the successful sale of Millennium Place, also in the same district.

            nov-6-iag-presentation-8 600-thumbNot to be outdone, the northern most tip of the city also has a jewel being built. The TD Garden's upcoming renovation and rise-up construction will prove to be another high-point (literally) in the city's chest of towers. With an elevated forest full of spires, the 600-foot, 45-story residential building will have 500 units on top of the building's arena.

            Last but not the least, the long-delayed Copley Place Towerlooks to be finally on its way. The project got its final nod last fall, adding 52 stories to the current 4 floor Copley Place complex. It's slated to rise, in total, 625 feet above street level, and will include 433 apartments, and 109 cndos for sale. As it stands now, it will also have a retail ground floor component to complement the mall within it.

            backbay2On the subject of all things Copley, it looks like the Back Bay Station is finally getting a complete makeover - and from the same people that'll bring the TD Garden up to date, too! Yes, that means that just like TD Garden's vertical expansion, it looks like Back Bay Station is getting one, too! Details of the development aren't exactly out yet, but sources say that it'll be composed of two towers, one of which is rumored to be a high-rise matching nearby Copley Place and complementing the Hancock tower. We'll definitely keep our eye and ears out for more info on that!


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