Newton Single Family Houses Market Update: March 2014

Newton MA’s housing market has been eliciting many complaints from buyers for about a year now.  The tight market is putting pressure on prices and many young families are priced out.

Housing Market Update for Newton MA

Since 2010, house prices have climbed from an average of $744,367 to $1,167,944, according to statistics from Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Newton Single Family Sold, 2010-2014

Sold Homes Average Price Average Days on Market
March 2010 32 $744,367 65
March 2011 28 $906,121 101
March 2012 29 $718,552 69
March 2013 26 $974,728 60
March 2014 33 $1,167,944 72

 Currently, there are 100 houses on market, with 54 of them priced between $1,000,000-$2,500,000.

Newton houses on market

There are 132 pending sales, 68 of these homes price between $900,000-$2,000,000.  Compared with the number of currently listed homes, this is a very tight market.

Newton Pending house Sales

Newton Center, 02459, Housing Update

Newton Center, zip code 02459, is especially desirable.  The market action index (MAI) is a measure of the housing market’s orientation.  A number above 30 is a seller’s market.  Currently, at 48, Newton Center has a strong seller’s market.

Medium Chart

It’s easy to see why Newton Center has a strong seller’s market: inventory has been on a steady decline for three years.  The seasonal turnaround starts around early Spring, and we see a slight rise in inventory this year.  But will it exceed last years?

Medium Chart

My prediction is that inventory will rise and buyers will regain some control over the market.  In Newton, and particularly Newton Center, 2014 will continue the trend as a seller’s market, but with a decline from the current position.

This year seems extremely slow so far, this is due to the weather and lack of motivation to both prepare a home for market and go out to look at homes January through most of March.  A turnaround in April and May is expected.

Buyers have no reason to rejoice, but at least breath a little.

Click on the link to stay current with weekly or monthly market update in your zip code.  Know how much your home’s value is changing, and when the best time buy and sell your real estate.

2 Sutherland Condo in Brighton MA for Sale

A new listing in Cleveland Circle is coming on market April 10th.  A fourth floor one bedroom condo with a great view of everything going on, and an excellent view of the Boston Marathon.

Yet, inside the condo it is quiet and peaceful. Come see how beautifully this condo shows!  Kitchen and bath have been updated and this unit has been meticulously maintained.  Every room is full of natural light.  This home  is located steps to the B, C, and D lines, Starbucks, Pino’s Pizza, and numerous other restaurants.  The park is across the street and the reservoir minutes away.

2 Sutherland Road is an elevator building part of Reservoir Place Condominiums.  There is extra storage and a pool.

Price: $249,000

 

Brighton condo for sale

Should I Do a Condo Conversion for My Multi-Family House in Brookline?

If you own a two or three family house, I am sure you thought about the option of converting the house into condominiums.

condo conversionIt is a tempting prospect, especially in a booming real estate market. Since the sum of condo values will exceed the house’s value, it is an idea worth exploration.

But just because the market is hot doesn’t mean it will be profitable for you!  Whether or not you want should turn your two or three family house into condos depends on a few factors.

Here are three questions to ask before you consider a condo conversion for your house.

1. What is the value of the home as a single entity versus as condominiums?

Your very first step is to ask a highly experienced and real estate agent to give you a current price evaluation. The agent will need to provide you with a market analysis for several properties.

  • One analysis will be of the current market for multi-family houses Brookline.
  • Another analysis will be for the condo market in your neighborhood. For each unit in the building you will need a separate analysis, unless they are identical.

Once you know the value of the homes, you will be able to figure out how much you are willing to spend on a condo conversion.

Paperwork for cash money

2. What are the costs associated with the condo conversion?

There are several steps to the process, and each will cost money. There are two substantial expenses in a condo conversion.

- Legal expenses.

You will need to hire a real estate attorney who will write and file the documents, and advise you on the legal process. This may cost $12,000-$15,000.

- Rehab expenses.

This will be the bulk of your expenditure. In order to sell a two family home as two condos, the City will need to inspect the home and ensure it is up-to-code.

If your house is built in the late nineteenth century or early-to-mid twentieth century, like the overwhelming majority of the multi-family homes in Brookline, it is likely there is considerable work to do to get the house up to current standards.

I am not talking about the cosmetic changes.  These are electrical, plumbing, building and safety upgrades, and getting the property up to current codes required in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy necessary to close.

I cannot estimate this cost. If you’ve maintained and updated the house meticulously over the years, it may be $10,000 of various upgrades. If your house is needs a lot of work, it can cost $300,000. There is no way to estimate this without a licensed contractor.

- Expense of selling the home.

Other than the commission, which will be a percentage of the sales, you may also have to supply an engineer’s report for the condo conversion.  This will likely be less than $1,000.

 3.  Do I have the time, energy, and financial resources (cash) to do the necessary work?

This question is self explanatory.  You need to want to do the work involved in a conversion and have the money to pay for it.

Click on the link if you are curious to learn the value of your Brookline multi-family house. Or fill out the form below.

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Brighton MA Condo for Sale: Two Bedroom with Parking

Two bedroom condo with parking is now on market in Cleveland Circle. This first floor condo features a modern eat-in kitchen, hardwood floors, high ceilings and deeded parking. Not an inch of of wasted space!

An added bonus is a private deck off the second bedroom.

Located steps to B line, and a short walk to C and D lines, 8 Kinross is a 14 unit association. The building is in excellent condition. Perfect starter home for young professional.

Price: $349,900

Real Estate Prices in Brookline MA: Single Family Trends

125-Rockwood-Happy-Hollow-Brookline-MA-2

Picture from HookedonHouses.net.

Brookline MA has one of the hottest Massachusetts real estate markets.  This has put the pressure on prices on both condominiums and house and a fast-paced market.  Houses, though, don’t sell as fast as condos.  Most of the single family homes are considered luxury,  with on-market time of six to nine month common.  In fact, one Brookline house has it’s three year anniversary this month!

Currently there are 32 single family homes on market in Brookline, with a median price of $2.36 million.  This time in 2012 there were 51 houses on market with a median price of $1.79 million.

This day seven year ago (2007), there were 60 single family homes on market with a median list price of $1.7 million.

House Prices in Brookline MA

In the table below you will find the four quartiles of home prices in Brookline MA.  This table represents only zip codes 02446 and 02445, and excludes Chestnut Hill. (Quartiles are a way to group the homes into four categories of prices so we can analyze changes).

The median price of the bottom quartile of houses in North Brookline is almost $1.8 million, while the median price of the top quartile is almost $5 million.

Looking at the differences in these house, the most expensive houses are substantially bigger, at 8900 square feet. This is nearly double the size of the bottom least expensive houses. They also have double the number of bathrooms, but only one extra bedroom, on average.

BrooklineMA HousesTrends

What accounts most heavily for the difference in prices of Brookline MA houses is land.  Look at the column of average square feet of land. The least expensive homes average about 10,000 sf lot size. But the most expensive homes average nearly two acres! This is nearly EIGHT TIMES as much land, or 778% more.

House Prices in Chestnut Hill MA

Houses in Chestnut Hill MA, (which is part Brookline plus a part of Newton and a small slice of Boston), have a similar trend to those in North Brookline.  The disparity between house prices is about $3.13 million.

The least expensive houses are a bit smaller than half of the size of the top quartile, and have half the number of baths. But the difference in average lot sizes is substantial.  The largest homes have a parcel which is on average 546% bigger than the smallest homes.

The trend of days on market is predictable: cheaper houses sell faster – there is more demand.  Yet even though it takes a long time to find a buyer for the luxury homes, their prices are still on the rise.

Chestnut Hill MA House Prices

Land Scarcity

The scarcity of land in Brookline is well known.  Land values are driven by two things. First, our love and appreciation for a private yard.  Many buyers for a single family house in Brookline are upgrading from a condo, and thus the yard is highly coveted.  (Yours truly can relate).

The second reason is the potential for subdivision or building new houses.  Building houses in Brookline is a lucrative business, if one can get it.  Some lots can be subdivided which currently may have one small home on them.  With house prices in Brookline  high and rising, it is no wonder land is so highly valued.

Want to stay ahead of the curve? Click on the link and sign-up for my weekly Brookline MA real estate summary report where you will learn the market trend.  It’s free!

Should I Renovate or Sell As Is?

When prospective home sellers invite me for a consultation, the most common question is not,”What is my home’s value?” but, “Should I renovate or sell the house as is?”

selling house in Newton MA

If your house is on a large parcel, it may be worth more than you think!

Several considerations are made to answer the questions of renovating or selling as-is.  At the top of the list is the local real estate market conditions.  No one answer can be given to this question, and discussing the house without a understanding the market is futile.

The advice here applies especially to South Newton MA, Chesnut Hill MA and Brookline MA, as well as parts of Boston, where land is scarce and the houses are old.  There is a great demand for luxury housing in the Boston area, which drive the pressure on the land and tear-down markets.

Brookline MA, for example, has a very high demand for land and tear-downs.  An old house which can be taken down can be worth more than a bigger house, if the land is larger and buildable.  Furthermore, the zoning of a parcel dictates how many units can be built and the size of the homes.  This is key knowledge to the equation.

Once the local real estate market and the town zoning is understood, review the considerations below to learn how I advise my clients.

In order for me to recommend renovations to a Brookline or Newton house, these are the things I look for:

1. The home owners have energy, patience, interest, and financial resources to make changes.

If a you some cash and bit of interest in renovating things, some projects may yield a return greater than 100%. Make sure you do ONLY those projects.  Don’t make these common home improvement mistakes.

2. The home is in generally good shape already.

Maybe you already have a new kitchen, so modernizing the bath would increase the value of the home. Or the home is in perfect condition other than some old carpeting, then I recommend changing the carpet. Another scenario is if the inside of the home is updated, but the exterior is a bit shabby. Here I recommend investing in making the house look great outside.

3. Market conditions favor home buyers.

Home buyers, to distinguish from investors or developers, tend to want to do less work. Walking into a house which is ready is highy valued by young families and overworked professionals.

In order to recommend selling your home as is, I look for the following:

selling land in Brookline MA

Your property’s value depends on the town’s zoning code.

1. If you can’t do the work, or it will be a great burden, then don’t!

Even projects which may be a good financial investment re not worth your stress and exhaustion.

2. The home needs too much work.

If your house hasn’t been updated many years, or if the house is in a consistent condition throughout, then sell the home as it is, to the right buyer. Don’t waste time and money on renovating a pink, mud-back tile bathroom if the kitchen is to remain avocado color and the wallpaper is peeling in the dining room.

It is likely the next owner will take on a major project and your bathroom may be turned into a pantry. Don’t put money into a part of the home, when the rest will remain outdated.

3. The market favors developers.

A developer is not paying a premium for upgrading something. If the devlopers are the strength in the market, they may be able to offer you more than a home buyer. Always speak with a local and highly experienced agent before you may any such decision.

4. Your house is in the immediate Boston Area and you are sitting on a chunk of land.

On a large lot in Boston, Newton, or Brookline, the house is almost always secondary. If the lot can be subdivided, if it can be turned into a multi-unit property, or if your house is small – the value is in the potential, rather than the house.

Whenever you consider selling your home, you must first speak with a real estate agent who can identify the strengths of the house. Learn the current market value of your home (Zestimates do not count), and who is the most likely buyer for your home. Only then decide to renovate or sell as is.

Thinking of selling your home?  Interested in a free market evaluation of a property?  Contact me today!

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Condo Prices in Brighton MA: February 2014 Market Update

Brighton MA condo market

When will the condo market loosen up?

For a couple of years we’ve seen condo prices in Brighton MA surge.  But is this market slowing down soon?

Since the beginning of 2012, median prices of condos on market in Brighton increased from $259,000 to $337,000 this past week.  This is a 30% jump in prices.

The laws of supply and demand play out in the real estate market, as inventory has steadily dwindled.  In 2008, 150 condos on market was not unusual in zip code 02135.  Today there are less than 40.

If lack of condo inventory drives the price up, what causes inventory to be so low? There are a few variables which keeps housing inventory low and prices rising:

Rising Rents

Rents in Brighton, and Boston as a whole, have increased considerably.  Even though there is no reliable index to measure rents, I estimate rent in Brighton increased approximately 20-25% in the past two years.

Low Interest Rates

Low rates have made it easier for homeowners and investors to refinance and reduce their monthly expense on their condo.  Furthermore, many homeowners have become landlords as both low rates and rising rents made it possible to keep the Brighton condo while buying a house in the suburbs.

Expectations of Rising ValueCondo Prices Brighton MA

Many potential home sellers witness the market heating up.  With every condo selling for a bit more than the last, the homeowner prefers to wait.  If there is no rush to sell, why not wait and realize another 5% or 10% in home value?

The 2008 Financial Debacle

Many condo owners in Brighton who bought in 2005-2007 were first time home buyers with little or no money down.  Without equity in their homes, the market downturn in 2008 meant many were upside-down in their mortgage.

When the home is worth less than the mortgage on it, it is difficult or very expensive to sell.  Many couldn’t afford it. Other than the mortgage payoff, there are other transaction costs of selling approximately 6% of the sale price.

For many condo owners in Brighton, breaking even just starting to look like a reality.

Low Housing Inventory All Over Greater Boston

Brighton homeowners are often first time home buyers who will upgrade to a larger home.  As I meet young families to discuss moving to a larger home, I explain the challenge they face is not in selling the condo, but in buying the new home.

The home purchase dictates their ability and timing of the sale .  When my clients are not finding homes in their chosen areas and budgets, I advise against putting the condo on market. Where will they go?

 Is the Brighton MA condominium market ready to loosen up?   When and how will the inventory pick up, and thus the frenzy end?

Brighton MA condos on Market Chart

My prediction is to see a turnaround later in 2014.  The turnaround will mean a slowing in the home prices increase, as more inventory comes on market.  The buyer-seller relationship will be more even handed.

Most buyers for condos in Brighton will be first time home buyers and investors will exit the market.  Once income return on the property falls below a threshold (which I estimate at 5.5-6%), these properties will be too expensive to investors and home buyers will out bid them.a

Frankly, I expected a turnaround by Spring 2014, but so far this year we are not seeing inventory pick-up.  This could be because of the weather, so my theory may hold true after all.  But as of now, I expect the inventory pick up and condo price frenzy in Brighton to slow late 2014.

Do you want to learn how much your condo’s value increased?  Tell me a bit about your home and I’ll give you a current, in depth market analysis.

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Free, no obligation and accurate home evaluation. Sign-up on my website with confidence. I'll never sell or share your information with anyone!

35 Independent Coffee Shops in Boston

Local coffee shopsWith a large young population of professionals and graduate students, Boston has considerable demand for hip independent coffee shops.  As Bostonians, we need both our regular caffeine fix and a place to hang out with our gadgets.

Below find a list of 35 Independent Coffee Shops in Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, and the area.  Some are great places for food, some for kids, and others perfect place to sit and write blog posts.  If you know of a place I’ve neglected to add, please let me know!  (Or, log on to List.ly, and add it yourself).

Don’t forget to share this with your friends and neighbors in support of our local small businesses.  Go to the bottom of the post to find the share button of your choice.

35 Cool Independent Coffee Shops in Boston MA

35 Cool Independent Coffee Shops in Boston MA

Great independent coffee shops to spend a Sunday afternoon, in case you are sick of the big chains.

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    Independent Coffee Shops in Boston

    Independent Coffee Shops in Boston

    Almost every street in Boston is home to a Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks (or both), but neighborhood coffee shops also have their own niche in our beloved city.

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    List of Independent Coffee Shops and Coffee Houses in the Boston Area | Boston's Hidden Restaurants

    List of Independent Coffee Shops and Coffee Houses in the Boston Area | Boston's Hidden Restaurants

    Go to this page to find a list of independent coffee shops and coffee houses in the Boston area.

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    Capitol Coffee House

    Capitol Coffee House

    Serving breakfast & lunch Monday though Saturday. 122 Bowdoin Street, Beacon Hill

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    Caffe Dello Sport | Great Food & Great Sports

    Caffe Dello Sport | Great Food & Great Sports

    308 Hanover Street, North End

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    Welcome to Vittoria Caffe in Boston

    Welcome to Vittoria Caffe in Boston

    Welcome to Vittoria Caffe situated in the heart of the North End in Boston. 290-296 Hanover Street, Boston

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    0 Voting...
    Caffe Aromi

    Caffe Aromi

    Located next to the Whole Foods in JP. 403A Centre Street, Jamaica Plain

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    kookoocafe.com

    kookoocafe.com

    7 Station Road, Brookline. In Brookline Village.

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    Cafe Fixe

    Cafe Fixe

    1642 Beacon Street · Washington Square · Brookline · 617.879.2500 Mon - Fri 6.30 am - 7 pm . Sat - Sun 7.30 am - 7 pm

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    Cranberry Cafe South Boston | Sandwiches, American, Healthy | Order Online | 704 E Broadway

    Cranberry Cafe South Boston | Sandwiches, American, Healthy | Order Online | 704 E Broadway

    Order online from Cranberry Cafe for pickup or delivery or visit us at 704 E Broadway in South Boston.

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    Cafe Arpeggio

    Cafe Arpeggio

    Menu of freshly made food, including a kid's menu! 398 WEST BROADWAY, South Boston

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    The Biscuit

    The Biscuit

    406 Washington Street, Somerville

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    WELCOME!

    WELCOME!

    SHERMAN CAFE & MARKET. NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE & GROCERY SPECIALIZING IN LOCAL FOODS. UNION SQUARE, SOMERVILLE, MA.

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    Atomic Bean Cafe

    Atomic Bean Cafe

    904 Cambridge Ave, Cambridge

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    BeanTowne Coffee House and Cafe Story

    BeanTowne Coffee House and Cafe Story

    One Kendall Square, Cembridge

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    Cafe Zing | Porter Square Books

    Cafe Zing | Porter Square Books

    Cafe Zing features products from local bakeries served alongside fair-trade coffee and organic espresso from Equal Exchange! Located within Proter Square Books. 25 White Street, Cambridge

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    Algiers Coffee House - About - Google+

    Algiers Coffee House - About - Google+

    Algiers Coffee House 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge.

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    Main menu

    Main menu

    364 Broadway Street, Cambridge

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    South End Buttery

    South End Buttery

    The South End Buttery is located in Boston, MA with three locations throughout the South End.

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    L'Aroma Cafe & Bakery

    L'Aroma Cafe & Bakery

    L'Aroma Cafe & Bakery, serving coffee, tea, pastries, salads and sandwiches in Boston and West Newton, MA

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    286 Newbury St. | Pavement Coffeehouse

    286 Newbury St. | Pavement Coffeehouse

    Newbury Street is located in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts. It runs roughly east-to-west, from the Boston Public Garden to Massachusetts Avenue. Our cross street is Gloucester and Newbury.

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    44 Gainsborough | Pavement Coffeehouse

    44 Gainsborough | Pavement Coffeehouse

    Closest MBTA station is "Symphony" on the Green Line. Walk East down Huntington Ave to first stop light which is Gainsborough St. We are by the corner of Gainsborough and Huntington Ave.

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    736 Commonwealth | Pavement Coffeehouse

    736 Commonwealth | Pavement Coffeehouse

    736 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215 (617) 277-8737

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    1096 Boylston St. | Pavement Coffeehouse

    1096 Boylston St. | Pavement Coffeehouse

    1096 Boylston (berklee) MBTA green line, Hynes Convention Center stop. By intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street next to the Berklee Bookstore.

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    Sip Cafe | Post Office Square | Downtown Boston

    Sip Cafe | Post Office Square | Downtown Boston

    Soups, salads, sandwiches in Post Office Square.

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    Espresso Love

    Espresso Love

    Food and coffee. 33 Broad Street, Boston

View more lists from Ruth Lerner

 

Brookline MA Condo Market Report

Below find a presentation about the Brookline MA condo market with a special focus on Coolidge Corner condos, 02446.  This includes a review of the recent market trend and a forecast for 2014.

Home Prices in West Roxbury MA: 02132

Located in the South-Western most post of Boston, West Roxbury is sometimes believed to be a suburb.  As a local resident, I enjoy reminding people I am indeed a Bostonian!

It is easy to see why many think it is a suburb – tree lined streets, single family and two family houses dominate the neighborhood, and everyone has a little bit of lawn to enjoy.  The streets are tame and the traffic moves. Bellevue Hill and the Highlands are home to colorful Victorians and expansive Colonials.

West Roxbury has been an attractive choice for young families in need of an easy commute into the City by car or train.  And now this has put much pressure on home prices.

Below find a chart presenting the median prices of single family homes for sale in West Roxbury for the past three years.  Prices are clearly on the sharp rise.

Large Chart

The natural forces of supply and demand are at play.  Below you’ll find a chart of the inventory of houses for sale, in the past three years.  The lack of housing is obvious.  This puts further pressure on home sales as sellers feel comfortable asking for higher prices when they have no competition.

Large Chart

 

What to expect will happen to home prices in West Roxbury MA this Spring?  I expect the sharp rise will be tapered as more home owners sell their home this Spring.  Yet, I still don’t believe demand for housing will be fully satisfied by inventory, as this neighborhood will continue looking more and more attractive to young families.