Tag Archives: rental property

New Rental Listings in Boston’s Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and Leather District

Spring has sprung and the warmer weather brings with it new rental listings!

In Back Bay, located at 41 Commonwealth Avenue #3 is a lofted one bed with high ceilings and a fireplace featuring period details. If this sounds familiar it may be because The Matthew and Alisa Group listed the condo for sale earlier this year. The building has common laundry and private storage deeded to the unit. Available for rent May 1st for $2600.

Apartment for Rent at 41 Commonwealth Ave #3

In Beacon Hill, located on the 3rd floor of Anderson Street at the corner of Phillips Street is a beautiful 1 bedroom plus study. This unique layout has windows facing north and south, a spacious kitchen, and generous bedroom. The building has common laundry and a common roof deck.  Available for rent June 1st for $2400.

Apartment for Rent at 27 Anderson St #6

In the Leather District, 181 Essex Street offers a beautiful new construction one bedroom in a professionally managed elevator building. Every room gets incredible afternoon light. The kitchen offers gas cooking, granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances. Laundry is in unit and private storage is included in the building. Pets are possible with references. Available for rent June 1st for $2900.

Apartment for Rent at 181 Essex Street #405

If you have any questions or would like schedule a private showing, contact Alisa Peterson at alisa.peterson@sothebysrealty.com or 617-997-2414. If none of these are quite what you are looking for you can search apartments for rent in Boston on our site. Or contact us as we may have other options for you.

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Fair Housing Act: Why Realtors Are Not Allowed to Discuss Schools, Safety, and Religion

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchase of their life for many people. People want to have a home where they can start and raise a family. It is common for buyers to want to know about the safety and schools. Unfortunately, Realtors cannot discuss those factors and/or religious institutions with buyers.

Realtors cannot discuss safety for two reasons, one of which is liability. If a Realtor says this neighborhood is safe and something happens after you move in, the real estate broker could be in trouble. The second reason is it violates the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, religion, color, familial status, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.

Fair Housing - Buy Property You Want Where you WantFor many buyers, safety is an important factor along with being in a good school district or being close to a religious institution. Saying a particular neighborhood is safe, how great the schools are, or a wonderful church is nearby could be considered steering. Steering can be done in one of two ways. One is only showing a homebuyer houses in a particular area based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation. The other is refusing or failing to show homes fitting the buyer’s criteria on the basis of their race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status.

Everyone has the right to buy property in any area they chose to live. Being able to afford the property they want in said area is a different story but affordability and availability should be the only factors that keep anyone from renting a property or buying a property where the buyer wants to live. However, a few types of housing are exempt from the Fair Housing Laws. For example, owner occupied homes with no more than 4 units and single family homes sold or rented without the use of a Realtor. Also, housing operated by and used exclusively for organizations that limit occupancy to members only.

As Realtors, we do not want to hide any information, and we are happy to give the facts when we can. We cannot speak about safety, schools, crime, or religious institutions, but we can direct you to those who can such as Picket Report or an officer at the nearest police station.

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Investment Property Inspection and Reinspection Ordinance

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.

New ordinance for investment property in BostonPresently, 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.

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Investment Property: Where to Start

Buying Investment PropertyOne of the biggest misconceptions I’ve heard from clients who are interested in buying investment property, is they are going to make livable income from their investment right away. More people have the desire to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and feel buying investment property is a safer investment than buying stocks. This is can be true, however, investing in real estate should be thought of as a long term commitment and must be done wisely.

Depending on what type of property you invest in you may be able to start a steady cash flow, but when you buy investment property, you should think of it as a way to build wealth not get rich quick.

If you buy an investment property in an established neighborhood, this would be considered a low risk investment. In Boston an example would be Back Bay or Beacon Hill. A possible drawback would be the prices would be higher to buy an investment property. However, the positive side is in Boston, where the rents are only going up, the tenant’s rent would cover most is not all of your operating costs, which include mortgage, condo fees, maintenance, and taxes. Little to nothing will be left over for shopping, but after your mortgage is paid off (by someone else), the investment property is now worth a lot more than you originally paid. The goal in these established areas is a safe investment with appreciation and key metric is appreciation rate.

If you buy an investment property in an area that doesn’t have the demand as the established neighborhoods, the risk is higher. In Boston an example could be areas of Roxbury or areas of Dorchester. The drawback would be that you wouldn’t be able to charge as high for rent but the buy in would be less and the money you do collect from rent would more than cover your mortgage and leave some extra cash on hand. Your investment property may not be worth much more than you paid for but the capital of your mortgage would be paid off quicker and you would be able to generate a profit quicker. The goal in riskier areas that do not offer the same appreciation rate as the most established areas is cash flow and the key metric in determining cash flow potential is cap rate (or capitalization rate if you aren’t into the whole brevity thing).

Buying either type of investment property should not be rushed into. Once you buy a property, you are still responsible for maintaining it. If your only experience with how to be a landlord comes from The Ropers on reruns of Three’s Company, we can help. For more information about buying investment property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Should I Rent or Should I Buy Now?

The real estate market has been dynamic over the last few years to say the least. The dramatic highs and lows have left many wondering if they should rent an apartment or buy a home. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks and it is important to figure out what is the best option for you right now. Consider these arguments during your internal rent vs buy debate.

 

Should I Rent?

 

Renting is a great option for those that are still trying to figure out what their plan is. Many cities have wonderful neighborhoods with distinct flavors and personalities. Renting gives someone the option to try out different neighborhoods and find which is the best fit for his or her lifestyle. Buying is an investment synonymous with putting down roots and many people want to know their surroundings before choosing where to settle.

Renting offers short-term commitment. The most common lease contract is for a year-long commitment and there are also short-term leases that can be from 3 months to 6 months and Tenancy-at-Will contracts which are just month-to-month commitments.

The ability to test out an area with little commitment makes renting seem ideal until you realize renting also means you are throwing your money away. Renting does not build credit or equity. In fact, by paying your rent, you are paying someone else’s mortgage and building someone else’s equity and credit.

The tax breaks for renters are limited. In Massachusetts, renters can only deduct 50% of the rent they paid in a calendar year with the maximum deduction for rent being $3000. Meaning if your rent is more than $500, you are not going to see any difference.

Another drawback is rent is always going up! Especially in high demand cities with low vacancy rates. What you could spend to get a one bed in the suburbs could maybe get you a closet in the city. Then there are also the upfront costs.  Unless you are moving into a rental complex that only wants first month’s rent, most owners want at least first and last month’s rent. Some will ask for a security deposit and if you are using a broker you will need to pay for a fee. To rent an apartment, you need to have 2-4 months rent saved at lease signing. Then there is the expense of actually moving: the boxes, the moving truck, movers, etc.

After you have an apartment, the landlord can be an issue. With thousands of landlords and even more tenants, each with a unique personality, it’s not possible for every tenant to get along with every landlord. Some will be great and others not so great and there is no way to tell which one you are going to get until after you are already in your lease. In the worst case scenario, this can make for a very long year.

 

Rent vs Buy: Which Best Fits My Lifestyle?

 

Should I Buy?

 

Buying a home can be scary at first. With all the horror stories throughout the nation (foreclosures, short sales, underwater mortgages, money pits, the inability to sell, etc.), it is easy to think that renting is safer than buying. Buying can be scary because it brings responsibility and commitment. Basically, it means becoming a grown-up.

Fortunately there are more reasons to buy than there are not to!

Sales prices have fallen and mortgage rates are at an all time low. The combination makes housing affordability as low as we have seen in a decade and possibly as low as we will see for the next decade.

There are more tax deductions for homeowners than renters. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest, property taxes, and certain home improvements also qualify for deductions.

When you are paying for your own property, you are putting your money toward building your own equity and credit. You are paying off your own mortgage rather than seeing your money go to someone else’s pocket.

If you buy your property as a long term investment, it is like putting money into the bank. The more equity you build, the more you can borrow for future purchases, such as renovations  to your home or your child’s college tuition.

If it is the responsibility and commitment that is scary, then buy a condo. The size won’t be overwhelming. Plenty of condos are located in professionally-managed buildings or buildings that have property managers to handle repairs and maintenance. In a few years, if you decide to move onto something bigger, you can sell the property but you could also rent it out and have someone else pay the mortgage and build your equity.

To learn more about buying or renting property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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New Development for Albany Street in Boston’s South End

New Developments at Albany and TravelerThe South End’s New York Streets neighborhood is going to have a major face lift over the next few years. One of the changes is going to be at the former Boston Herald site, which will be developed into a 471 residential complex with a 50,000 sq ft Whole Foods called the Ink Block.

The latest development is a lot on Albany St. will be from Traveler St. to East Berkeley St. currently functioning as a parking lot in front of a large aquatic mural featuring killer whales frolicking in the ocean. New Jersey based real estate developer Normandy Real Estate Partners have submitted plans to build a 220 unit apartment complex and a 325 room hotel. They have not mentioned what hotel will occupy the space but they did mention it will offer “a low cost alternative to current hotels.” Sandwiched between the two buildings will be an above ground parking garage with 165 parking spaces.

As well as adding new residential units to the South End, this project will also enhance it’s surroundings by improving the landscape, paving, and lighting. These enhancements will greatly improved what is now a somewhat depressing and barren area.

New Development Site on Albany StreetHowever, the project could negatively affect some area residents. The apartment complex will be 19 stories high which could potentially obstruct the view of the Boston skyline from the Macallen building and Court Square Press building. Today, residents in South Boston, particularly in those buildings, have an incredible view of the Boston skyline. Hopefully the design of the building will only enhance the skyline view.

Contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate if you are interested in learning about properties for sale in the South End or South Boston.

UPDATE: Per the Boston Herald, Normandy Real Estate Partners have brought in Gerding Edlen, a company currently building a rental high-rise in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. The co-developers have decided to scrap the hotel portion of their plans and proceed with an all residential project consisting of two buildings and up to 380 units. The amended plans will be reviews at a public meeting the BRA has scheduled for February 26.

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How Clean is Clean? Real Estate Etiquette for Those Moving Out

Sellers and renters, by law, are only responsible to broom sweep their old home. This is another instance where you have to let your conscience be your guide. Ask yourself, “When I’m exhausted from packing and moving everything I own into a truck, do I really want to clean my new home that I just purchased or rented before I can put any of my things down?” I’m sure the answer would be “no.”

Clean Your Old Home Yourself and Save Money

I understand the last thing you want to do after a long day of packing and moving all of your belongings into a truck is to clean a place that is no longer yours. Here are a few ways you can motivate yourself to do it.

One : it’s good karma (if you believe in that)! But bottom line it is the right thing to do. Always leave a home the way you would want to walk into your new one.

Two : for the security deposit. The last thing you want is to have to pay for someone else to clean a place you no longer live in. If you are selling, the last thing you want is for your deal to go south at the final moments or have the buyer come after you.

Three : your old landlord will think well of you, which is key if you ever need a landlord reference in the future.

Cleaning your old place doesn’t have to take hours, but hit the important areas:

  • Remove all stains in the bathroom (hint: bleach takes care of about everything in the bathroom).
  • Make sure you leave nothing behind in the cupboards since not everyone will want your leftovers.
  • It’s amazing what a difference clean floors make, so vacuum and/or mop the floors.
  • Thoroughly clean the fridge. This task should take the longest. Many people are very particular about their food and what is near it. I am not one to judge, everyone has their eccentricities and since this is now someone else’s home it should be respected as such.

Even though you may not be legally obligated to professionally clean your old home, proper real estate etiquette is to clean it throughly whether you are renting or selling real estate.

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Buying a Home: How Do You Know If You Are Ready?

If you have been searching for rentals in Boston in the last couple years, you may have noticed that it is tough. Inventory is limited and prices keep rising. There are three things renters can do. One: pay the rising rates. Two: look farther outside the city than originally planned. Three: stop renting and purchase. Many people today feel that investing in real estate is safer than investing in stocks and with good reason. Real estate in Boston has not been hurt as much as the rest of the country and rentals in the city are consistently in high demand. If you are on the fence on buying real estate, here are a couple signs you may be ready.

Buying real estate in Boston may be a better option than rentingOne: you know what you want. If you have a realistic idea of the size you need and the location where you want to live for the next few years and you  haven’t found it on the rental market, take a look at what is on the sales market. The rental market in Boston favors landlords. The inventory is limited and owners can get not only their asking price but also first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and security deposit (each equal to one month) and not have to pay a broker’s fee.

Two: you have the finances. The upfront costs of renting an apartment in Boston are higher than most cities around the nation. Many people looking for quality rentals in Boston  are surprised how little they get for the money. With many banks loosening restrictions on who can get mortgages, it is worth your time to speak with a mortgage broker about types of loans and available rates.

If you are weary of buying because you do not want to be locked into a mortgage on the chance your career moves you to another city, keep in mind that you could hold onto your home as an investment property. With a tenant paying rent, you can build equity while someone pays your mortgage for you.

Contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate if you are interested in learning more about purchasing a home.

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Ink Block Project Slated for Former Boston Herald Site

Ink Block development to be built on the former Boston Herald siteThe proposal for the Ink Block development has been made public and a new vision for this area of Boston’s South End neighborhood is a drastic departure from the current state of the area once known as the New York Streets. The New York Streets neighborhood was Boston’s first victim of urban renewal in the late 1950s, a vibrant multi-ethnic neighborhood turned into an unwelcoming industrial wasteland in order to keep the Boston Herald from leaving Boston.

After fifty years at the site, the Boston Herald closed down their production at the South End location known as One Herald Square. The sounds of reporters on the phone and typing out stories ceased. The print presses were shut down. The company moved their offices to the new Innovation District in Boston’s Seaport and began paying The Boston Globe to print and distribute their newspapers circulated in the Boston area.

With the Boston Herald site shuttered, the focus turns to what will become of the 6 acre site they left behind. The site, which runs along Harrison Avenue from Herald Street to Traveler Street, is owned by National Development, which bought the property five years ago. National Development is based in Newton and has been involved in many local developments such as Station Landing, a residential and retail complex in Medford; the Kensington project, a 27-story residential building across from the Ritz-Carlton in Downtown Boston; the Marriott Residence Inn in Charlestown’s Navy Yard; and Longwood Center, a life-sciences building in the Longwood Medical Area. National Development plans to develop the project known as Ink Block with Patrick Purcell, Boston Herald publisher, as a minority investor.

Last week, National Development went before a group of local residents at Project Place to discuss the Ink Block proposal it had submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The Ink Block proposal requires the demolition of the current building known as One Herald Square and envisions in its place four new structures with a total of 475 apartments, a grocery store, retail shops, restaurants, and over 400 parking spaces. The completed Ink Block project will total 550,000 square feet total with 85,000 square feet allocated to ground floor retail. The four buildings will be metal, glass, and brick, each distinct in appearance from the others. One building will be five stories tall, two will be eight stories, and the fourth nine stories. The Ink Block plans were designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects.

The Ink Block apartments will be spread out over all four buildings and will include lofts, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartments. Rents have not yet been determined for the apartments, but 15% of the units will be affordable. All the affordable housing will be on site.

Ink Block apartment amenities will include a roof deck with pool, theater, fitness center, cyber lounge, bicycle storage, shared car service (Zipcar), shared bike service (Hubway), and electric car charging stations. The garage will offer around one parking space available for every two residential units.

30,000 square feet of the project is allocated for a grocery store. Community members were pleased with this announcement, saying the area has a void when it comes to nearby grocers. The news was tempered when National Development said the desired Whole Foods was not among the grocers currently in talks despite the developer’s pursuit of the national upscale chain. It was mentioned that an urban Stop & Shop has experience in similar locations.

UPDATE: New York based Wegman’s supermarket has expressed interest in opening a Boston store and Danny Wegman, the chain’s chief executive, toured the Ink Block site during the last week of March. Wegman, in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said, “We believe we belong in Boston, not just in the suburbs.’’ He also toured sites in the Fenway.

LATEST UPDATE: Whole Foods Market has agreed to anchor the retail portion of the Ink Block project with a 50,000 square foot store, which will be the largest Whole Foods Market in the Boston area. The store will feature a full selection of organic and natural foods, a wine selection, prepared foods, a gelato bar, and an outdoor cafe seating area on Harrison Avenue. In a prepared statement, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said, ”This is a huge milestone for the neighborhood, and I am proud to welcome Whole Foods to the South End.”

National Development said the goal of the Ink Block project is to create a more inviting pedestrian-friendly area and to this end the proposal calls for wider sidewalks and the bulk of parking to be hidden in the interior of the structure. The vision of a human-scale development is the result, in part, of a proposal National Development submitted last spring for a smaller project that was derided by neighbors as uninspiring and suburban. Since that last proposal, approval of the Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan allowed for bigger development. The community wants Ink Block, as the first new development in this part of the South End, to set a tone and it appears National Development is listening.

The Ink Block developers did not purchase three adjacent buildings on Albany Street

Three adjacent buildings on Albany Street

Although most of the reception for the new Ink Block proposal was favorable at the recent Project Place pitch, some questioned National Development’s choice to not buy three adjoining properties along Albany Street. Those three properties appear empty, recently vacated by an insurance company, a taxi stand, and F.W. Webb. The detractors claimed National Development missed the opportunity to develop the site to its true potential, but the company said their analysis showed the current market would not bear the larger project.

The finished Ink Block project will be one of the largest residential developments in Boston, built on one of the few large plots available for development in the city. The plan is for Ink Block to be built in phases. The first building will be a nine-story building on Herald Street, followed by a five-story building facing Harrison Avenue and housing the grocery store, and then an eight-story building facing Harrison. The fourth building, facing Traveler Street, may be delayed until construction and occupation of the first three buildings. The entire Ink Block project is projected to be completed before 2016 and cost around $125 million.

To discuss how the proposal of the Ink Block project will affect investment property in Boston’s South End neighborhood, contact our Realtors.

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About to View Property? Here are Some Do’s and Don’ts

Not too many people put much thought into etiquette these days even when going to view property to buy or rent. It’s not anyone’s fault, it is just how society has evolved. When I talk about etiquette, I don’t mean to conjure images of Victorian Britain and reruns of Upstairs Downstairs. I am simply speaking of the basics in proper behavior dictated by certain situations. For example, appropriate behavior does exist when one is going to view property. It’s nothing complex, it is common sense behavior that follows the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

For those who are just starting their search to buy property or rent property in Boston please help us help you.

First, if you are working with a Realtor, be aware that just because you are available in the next hour, your Realtor, the listing agent, or the current occupant might not be. If you are available within the hour, do let your realtor know but also give other times you are available.

Second, when you are going to view property, bring everyone that needs to see it. Inventory in Boston is limited and moves fast. If this property is for roommates, a couple, or a single occupant that needs parent approval, make sure everyone can see it. I am not saying multiple showings are inappropriate, but in the time it takes to schedule and reschedule showings, someone else can come in and scoop it up.

Third, even if the listing is pet-friendly, leave the dog at home. Again, this property is someone else’s home and that someone may choose to not have a pet regardless of the pet policy. They may have allergies or a fear of dogs and forcing one into their home is disrespectful. Or they may have pets that may not want another animal in their home.

Fourth, don’t ask to use the bathroom. Just don’t.

Fifth, if you are looking at property for sale, look beyond the paint and the furniture. This was how the current or previous owner made it their home, you can change it to make it yours. When comments about the decor are being made, one is not always sure who may be listening. Not to mention those comments are irrelevant and off-topic when it comes to the task at hand, which is finding your next home.

These are not fixed rules; there may be agents who disagree with some of these, and there may be agents who have even more rules. We are not trying to make anyone on edge when viewing property, because buying property is stressful enough without thinking about behavior at the viewing. All we ask is to think of it in this way: If you are planning to rent or sell your property, think about how you would want people to treat you and your property when viewing it.

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