Boston’s population is the highest it’s been since the 1970s, up to over 625,000 people. With cranes as far as the eye can see, new developments are going up in areas considered in the past to be tired or rundown. However, buildings are not going up as fast as the demands call for it.
Buyers are chomping at the bit to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with city living offered in the downtown neighborhoods of Boston. Convenience of shops and restaurants, little to no need for cars, and the vibrant energy of the city are appealing to young professionals, empty nesters, and young families. More people prefer the location and lifestyle that comes with living in a condo over square footage and a yard that comes with a single family home. The demand is high, inventory remains low, and people are ready, willing, and able to pay what the market demands. The competition between investors and home buyers is stiff. Investors are fully aware rentals are in as much high demand as condos, so they are not concerned with the investment potential associated with rental property.
Over the weekend Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson hosted an open house at their listing 41 Commonwealth Ave #3. A beautiful lofted one bed on the second block of Commonwealth Ave in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood priced at $489,000. The open house was from 11:30am-1pm, in the hour and a half the door was open, over 50 groups came through. The buyers ranged from first-time homebuyers, empty nesters, and investors. And as a result the property was under agreement Monday evening after receiving multiple offers.
This is not a rare occurrence and it is fantastic for sellers. The high demand is driving up prices and lowering the days a property is on the market. More properties are coming on the sales market, however, and well-priced properties are going under agreement after the first open house. Why wait until next year to sell? We know today’s buyers have the strongest buying power in years. Inventory remains low. Low inventory means low competition which equals the highest price possible.
The real estate sales market in South Boston is hot. In the last 6 months 306 properties have sold in South Boston, beating Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and South End. This could be due to a combination of facts:
South Boston is a larger neighborhood than the above mentioned neighborhoods and would have more inventory
According to MLS, over the last 6 months in South Boston, 2 single family homes and 9 condos have sold between $650-$750K. The average sold price per square foot was $260 for single family homes and $403 per square foot for condos.
This single family home listed for $679,000 could be converted into a two family home making it into an income generating property. At 2,880 square feet and with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 2 kitchens, this home sold in 8 days for $665,000.
This charming 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom is located in one of the most desired and famous locations in South Boston, Dorchester Heights. This renovated townhouse has 2,250 square feet of living space, was listed $649,000, had an accepted offer after being on the market for two weeks, and sold for $650,000.
Originally listed for $679K , this 2,478 square foot 3 level renovated condo has everything. With 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, parking, 3 decks, and a spacious open layout, it is no wonder it sold after 10 days on the market for $668,500.
Over on the West Side of Southie, this newly constructed condo has 2,000 square feet of living area with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a full 3 car garage underneath. Originally listed for $699,900, this condo sold for $670,000 after 136 days on the market.
392 W 2nd St #392 – Boston Realty Sales and Services
Boston’s real estate market has a somewhat transient nature. The high number of colleges and universities along with medical and financial jobs opportunities lead to thousands of people moving in and around the Boston area every year. We see this in the sales market but much more so in the rental market. Because of the need for rental housing, savvy investors purchase investment property they then offer as apartments for rent.
The way to build wealth in real estate is to buy and hold on to property, which is why most people buy condos in the city now with the idea of renting when they move to something bigger later. However, many investors think on a larger scale. They don’t see one condo to rent out, they want the whole building. Both types of landlords are great and much needed in this city, however some changes are in the works that investors should know about.
Since Boston has hundreds of colleges and thousands of students, dorms are constantly full. The appeal of being off campus in a vibrant city can also make dorm living seem less than attractive. Unfortunately for them, not everyone rents to undergraduate students (students are not a protected class, so landlords can refuse to rent to them). For undergraduates, options are slim and not very ideal. In fact, some conditions are downright inhumane. It is with this in mind that the City of Boston, has been drafting and re-drafting a new law to increase rental property inspections and have owners that do not seem to care about their properties, tenants, and neighbors, take more responsibility.
Presently, inspections only occur when the lease expires. The proposed law, Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance, will mandate inspections of over 140,000 rental apartment units in Boston, with each unit inspected at least once every 5 years. Owners would be required to register for $25 per unit and pay a $15 annual fee. Prices are higher for any owner who wants to enroll in an alternative compliance plan available to property owners in good standing and a favorable history of compliance. The new ordinance includes any owner who rents out their condominiums. The law requires owners to report any transfer of ownership within 30 days of closing and stipulates the owner of the property (or the acting agent for a trust) have their name, address, and phone number on the mailbox at the property. A P.O. Box does not comply with the address requirement. It also requires any non-local owner to have a Boston-based resident agent.
The goal of this new law is to protect many of the tenants living in problem properties and to force the owners to take offenses seriously. “Problem Properties” are considered by the city as properties that the Police Department has been called to no fewer than four times, the Air Pollution Control Commission has received no fewer than four complaints, or the Inspection Services Department or Public Health Commission has received new fewer than four complaints all within a 12 month period.
The vote to pass this new ordinance can happen as early at December 19th, go into effect on January 1st, and have owners register by July 1st. For those about to buy investment property, keep these new rules in mind, the fees will affect your bottom line depending on the size and location of your building.
UPDATE: The Boston City Council voted 9-4 to approve the rental registration ordinance on December 19, 2012.
Every Thanksgiving, my family went around the table and said what we were most thankful for. I am sure this is a tradition many families share and it is a simple way to remind us of how lucky we are to be surrounded by food, friends, and family. It is in this spirit that Matthew Gaskill and myself volunteer our time and whatever resources we can use to helping others. Once again, we are volunteering for Community Servings’s Pie in the Sky. This is an wonderful event that brings the community together in the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
Since 1990, Community Servings has provided meals to those who are critically ill and their families in 18 cities and towns all over Massachusetts. These are people battling with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease, and other illnesses that make them too sick and weak to be able to shop or cook for themselves.
We are selling pies for $25 from the best chefs, restaurants, caterers, and hotels all over Massachusetts and $.90 of every $1 goes directly to Community Servings. Sure you could find pies available for a little less, but this $25 buys a pie and feeds a family for a week. Pie in the Sky began in 1993 when so many in the restaurant community lost friends and co-workers to the HIV/AIDS virus. Knowing how much food can change a person emotionally and physically, some of these people started Pie in the Sky. Since then hundreds of restaurants and volunteers have taken time to bake pies, sell pies, deliver pies, and whatever else is needed. This event raises 15% of Community Servings’s annual private fundraising revenue!
Pies are only available to those in Massachusetts who can pick them up in person at any of 63 pick up locations (14 of which are in Boston). However, anyone can donate a pie to one of Community Servings’ 1,300 clients in need or donate directly to Community Servings. Pies available are the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving; apple, pecan, pumpkin, and sweet potato.
Go to our team site to buy a pie or donate! Last day to order is 11/17/12.
Are you new to the area or looking for the neighborhood that best suits your lifestyle?
We are available to discuss and share our insights on the city and its neighborhoods. Trust us, we could talk about Boston and its neighborhoods for hours. But if you’d prefer to do some research on your own before you get us talking, our website is a great source.
We have integrated the website with resources such as Walk Score, education.com, Yelp, and Google Maps to help educate those in the midst of an international relocation and those looking for a new neighborhood to call home.
The Walk Score feature will provide one score for the walkability of a location and another score for its access to public transportation.
The Yelp integration allows you to locate nearby services including dry cleaners, coffee shops, grocery stores, health providers, athletic facilities and gyms, restaurants, and much more.
Our education.com feature will show area schools on a map, provide contact information, offer a brief description as well as a link to more thorough information and reviews on the education.com website.
By featuring Google Maps on our website, we are able to provide access directly to Google Street View without the need to leave the property listing.
The Zillow integration offers a variety of charts and data providing insight on the real estate market and area demographics.
We think these tools will give you the ability to find the area right for you and your lifestyle. Of course, I am always available to discuss in more detail or if you have any questions.
First, we would like to introduce who we are. We are Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson. We are two Realtors who work at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston. We formed Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate in 2011 as a way to better serve our clients through the process of real estate transactions. We complement each other by each coming to the team with different strengths, backgrounds, and philosophies. Among the things we share are the core values of customer service, integrity, honesty, and hard work.
If you are beginning your search or want to get more information on the area and the current real estate market, we are available for a no-obligation consult. Our past clients have found this to be a helpful first step that saved them time and the frustration of working with agents who do not fully understand their clients’ goals. The consult will give you a chance to meet us and ask any questions while allowing us to assess the best approach to your search.
When thinking of public transportation, the mind can flash to long delays, loud crowds, tight crammed spaces, uncomfortable heat, and odd smells, nothing really to look forward to doing. However there is one small trip on the T that features Boston unlike anywhere else.
Between the Charles/MGH T stop in Beacon Hill and the Kendall Square/MIT T stop in Cambridge, the red line goes above ground and travels over the Longfellow Bridge. If you get on the T at Charles/ MGH and travel west toward Kendall Square/MIT and face south, you will see an incredible view of Boston’s Back Bay with the Charles River simmering before it.
The Longfellow Bridge, also known as the Salt and Pepper Shaker Bridge because the of the shape of the towers in the center of the bridge, was constructed in 1900 and connects Boston and Cambridge. The Longfellow Bridge’s design was influenced by the designs of famous bridges in Europe. The towers not only have the seals of Boston and Cambridge, they also have decorative motifs of Viking ships that reference the voyage of the famous historical figure, Leif Eriksson, up the Charles River during the 1st century AD. Along with the red line, cars on Route 3 drive across, pedestrians can go for a stroll on it, and the bridge even has bike lanes. Because you don’t have to watch where you are going while on the train, the smooth and graceful ride on the T is where you can really enjoy the unobstructed view of Boston’s skyline.
Boston has many different things to do and a less than a minute trip on the T is usually not something to go out of your way for, but in this case it is. Any time of year and any time of day it is worth the trip for the view.
Faneuil Hall, Fenway Park, The Public Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, The State House, etc… these are just some of the many highlights that Boston has to offer. But there are countless gems that may not show up in the guide books.
One gem is hidden in The Mary Baker Eddy Library at The Christian Science Plaza in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Built in 1935 to celebrate the success of the Christian Science Monitor is the Mapparium. The Mapparium is a 3 story stained glass globe with a 30ft glass bridge connecting the ends of the world as it was in 1935.
The architect was Chester Lindsay Churchill and his inspiration came from the spinning globe inside the lobby of the New York Daily News building. There are 608 glass panels held in a bronze frame and it took over a year to build. Over the first four months of its debut in June 1935, over 50,000 people came to visit. People were able to see the world in a new way and make connections they never could before. For example, most of the world’s land masses are above the equator or the magnetic North Pole and the actual North Pole are not the same thing or in the same place.
The most amazing feature of this structure even took it’s designers by surprise. Because the entire globe is curved glass and glass does not absorb sound, the acoustics inside the globe create magic. If a person stands in the center of the globe and speaks, their voice is heard in surround sound. If two people stand at either end of the bridge and whispers to the other, they will hear it as if it was being whispered directly in their ear.
Churchill knew the world would be changing with the talk of war and he designed the Mapparium in panels so changing his glass globe would be possible. However, after committee discussions in 1939, 1958, and 1966 it was decided that the cost to create and change the panels was too great and the Mapparium held more value as a world frozen in time.
In 1998, the Mapparium was shut down for a 4 year renovation. When it opened again in 2002, a new sound and light show was added to illustrate how much the world has changed from 1935.
The Mapparium is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm and located at 200 Massachusetts Ave. Visit their website for more information about the Mapparium and The Mary Baker Eddy Library. Be aware that photography inside the Mapparium is not allowed.
Recently there was a roof deck fire in Boston’s South End neighborhood on Wellington St. off of Columbus Ave before Massachusetts Ave. This fire started on the roof deck at 20 Wellington St. and eventually spread to the 4th floor deck of 18 Wellington St. This hit a little too close to home for me since I had a client move into an apartment earlier this summer that is two doors down from the fire. Fortunately, both he and his apartment are fine. My client was on his deck when the fire started and was able to warn some of his neighbors.
After hearing about this fire, I learned there was another fire only a few days prior. This fire was in Roslindale and left 18 people displaced. Both fires were caused by propane grills.
To better understand what is legal and illegal regarding grills on decks, read the rules and regulations from the City of Boston, but here are the basics:
Charcoal grills are not allowed on or within a building structure. The only place charcoal grills are permitted would be on an unenclosed ground level patio.
Propane gas grills are not allowed on decks or patios above the first floor and are only permitted in an enclosed area.
Piped-in natural gas grills are allowed as long as they have been professionally installed. Of course, before anyone does installations for grills, check the condo docs for any language regarding grills and get approval from the condo association.
It is hard for me to stress the rules to clients whenI am on a showing, out on the deck on a gorgeous day standing next to the current occupant’s illegal bbq grill. It’s even harder when the clients are pointing out all the other grills on the decks of multiple neighbors. This is a testament to how many people think this can’t happen to them. After seeing all the damage a fire from a simple bbq can cause, I will continue to stress that it is not allowed and not worth the risk.
Union Park is arguably the most iconic and desirable block in the South End neighborhood of Boston. Union Park is the section of the street located between Tremont Street and Shawmut Avenue, whereas the rest of the street is known as Union Park Street. The evolved neighborhood aspect of the area are a large draw, as is the proximity to many of the city’s best dining options. The location also provides an easy commute to offices in Back Bay, the Financial District, and Downtown. The sunny nature of the wide street built around a park is another reason the block is sought after, but the combination of all Union Park offers is what sets it above other blocks in the area.
Another aspect to the appeal of Union Park is the large footprints of the buildings, with Union Park lots offering some of the widest lots in the South End. Chester Square on Massachusetts Avenue and Worcester Square are the other two South End blocks known for their wide lots.
The Union Park block was inspired by the elegant garden squares of London and followed Charles Bullfinch’s use of park squares in downtown Boston. Union Park and Worcester Square, another South End park square, were laid out as parks in 1851. Construction of the houses surrounding Union Park was complete by 1859.
The original design of the park included fountains topped by the mythological “Leda and the Swan” and featured a central path of crushed stone. The path was lined trellises and flower beds with a row of elm trees along each side. The fourteen original trees survived until the 1990′s and it is said their high canopy formed a cathedral over the park, which was particularly beautiful when covered with snow.
The original cast-iron fence surrounding the park matched the one around Beacon Hill‘s Louisburg Square. The fence present today replaced the original in 1913 and was restored in 2009.
The homes surrounding Union Park consist of both flat and bow-front brick row houses originally built as single-family mansions. The homes feature Victorian details such as their ornate cast-iron fences and railings, operable wood shutters, and carved limestone headers above the windows and entryways. Examples of various architectural styles are present around the block such as Greek Revival, Italianate, and Renaissance Revival.
Stone stoops leading to the parlor level are another feature of Union Park homes. Warm summer nights often result in residents enjoying the weather with their neighbors. A couple of years ago, the stoops were filled with wine-drinking residents watching Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones film a scene from the movie Company Men.
Whole buildings sold in the last 10 years as either single-family homes or multi-family buildings sold between $1.22 million and $4.55 million with a median price of $2.2 million. These buildings are around 35,000 square feet, which means they sold for an average price per square foot of $480.
Many of the the houses built at single-family homes have been divided into condos over the years. These condos range from a two bedroom/1 bath with 811 square feet that sold for $426 thousand to a 3 bedroom/3.5 bath condo with 3400 square feet that sold for $3.275 million. The median price of condos on the block was $685 thousand over the last ten years with an average of $661 per square foot.
Former famous residents of Union Park include:
4 Union Park - John Quincy Adams Brackett, Governor of Massachusetts. The house last sold in 2006 for $4.55 million.
5 Union Park - Samuel Stillman Pierce of S.S. Pierce & Co. The grocery magnante got his start by bartering with ship capitains in Boston Harbor, exchanging provisions for delicacies from foreign ports. His business thrived in part because of celebrity clients Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, and Oliver Wendall Homes, Sr. The house last sold in 2005 for $2.1 million.
16 Union Park – H.P. Kidder, founder of the stock brokerage firm Kidder, Peabody, and Co.
34 Union Park - Alexander H. Rice, politician. Rice was a founder of the Republican party in Massachusetts and the first Republican Mayor of Boston. During his tenure as Mayor, Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was developed. Rice went on to serve as a member of Congress during the Civil War and then as Governor of Massachusetts.
51 Union Park - Dr. Joseph H. Warren, medical aide to Abraham Lincoln.