Boston’s Brewery Scene

Whether it’s the beer or the experience you’re chasing – or both – you won’t have to go far to find them in Boston.

All across greater Boston, breweries are popping up on residential corners and sprouting from rustic, urban buildings, growing into warm gathering places. With new value propositions, such as Bring Your Own Food, Insta-worthy wall panels, trivia nights, and games for the hip millennial, people are flocking to them for a fun night out or casual Sunday Funday. From Somerville and Everett, across the river to Fort Point and winding through Fenway all the way down to Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, there’s quite a selection to choose from.

Classic

Best Boston Breweries

Samuel Adams Brewery

If you want to keep things simple, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Sam Adams Boston Brewery in Jamaica Plain or Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall in Seaport. Both have tours, so you can see what happens behind-the-scenes and enjoy a tasting as the tour concludes. I prefer the modern set-up at Harpoon with its long wooden tables, and I can’t resist the soft pretzels and dipping sauces. While Sam’s brewery facility doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, you can hop aboard the trolley that will take you to Doyle’s (also in JP), the first pub to serve Sam Adams in 1986.  

Trendy
Let me get straight to the point: Lamplighter Brewing Co. near Central Square, Cambridge gives out cute jars of free snacks and I think that’s fantastic. And if you’re looking to ease into your weekend, Lamplighter has a café and barista bar that you can post up at until you decide It’s five o’clock somewhere. They have two bar rooms, games for the playing, and a few very chic spots to take photos.

Nearby at Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville you’ll find a less-refined but more open space to mingle and snack on food truck bites in between beers.

While Everett is a small trek outside the city, Nightshift Brewing is just one good reason to go. Nightshift brought itself into Boston with a pop-up on the Esplanade earlier this year. It’s closed for the season, but my fingers are crossed that they will surprise us with a winter pop-up somewhere near the city’s center.

In Fort Point, Trillium has three floors of fun: a taproom, dining area, and a rooftop patio. Its location is promising nearby an array of restaurants, bars, and shops that have sprung up around Fort Point and Seaport.

Dorchester Brewing Co. has perfected the posh refurbished look and makes for a nice choice in fair weather because they have indoor and outdoor seating. It’s unique advantage? DBco encourages beer-entrepreneurs to pursue their passion by providing the resources and facility for others to grow their business.

best boston breweriesOn The Way Up
Quickly gaining visibility, these other breweries certainly deserve a shout-out and a visit: Backlash Beer Company in Roxbury, Bone Up Brewing Co. in Everett, Mystic Brewery in Chelsea, and Turtle Swamp Brewing in JP.

Hybrid
Not quite breweries, not just bars, hybrids are being born out of the hype around breweries and have quickly grown in popularity. Aside from the beer, what Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co. in Fenway really has going for it is the Instagrammable background: large letters adorned in tiny lights, a room full of games (ping pong, pool, and shuffleboard), not to mention a staircase that connects you directly to Lucky Strike. Cheeky Monkey uses a SmartBrew system, which you can get the details on in this Eater article.

City Tap in Fort Point has an extensive list of beers on tap with the opportunity to create your own flight or order a 4.5 ounce pour before committing to the full beer.

Alternative
Not a fan of beer? Get the full “brewery” experience without all the hops at Bantam Cider in Somerville or Downeast Cider House in East Boston. They have a variety of ciders that will surprise you and quench your palate.

 
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Ruth Malkin Brookline Real Estate Expert

Ruth Malkin Boston Real Estate Predictions

Greater Boston Real Estate Predictions – 2019

What’s in store for the Greater Boston real estate market in 2019? Here’s my thoughts and market update:

 

Hi everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to give you a bit of an update and tell you what I see coming up in 2019 in the real estate market. It’s only January 2019 and we’re off already to a very, very strong start. Inventory coming on the market and traffic has picked up. Traffic meaning buyers are booking showings for listings. We are out and about as real estate agents looking at properties with buyers at whatever is on the market.

 As predicted, the market was steady and did not stop throughout the holiday season. It’s been a really, really busy holiday season. What are we going to looking at going forward? It is a little bit hard to exactly predict at this point what the Fed is going to do and what the market is going to do as it’s been so volatile since roughly October but we are pretty sure about rising interest rates, rising mortgage rates, we’re going to see a little bit of that.

What does that mean? It means buyers – their ability, their affordability is lowered as the monthly payments go up for any property. I think price wise we’re going to see a pretty flat market. Not much going up and I don’t think much is going to down though either especially in the strongest markets in the United States.

There are some slithers of the market where we’re finding shortage of housing. Still we’re seeing it in urban areas, properties that are big enough for young families. Two, three bedroom condos in highly walkable areas, those are still highly desirable. Those are still in short supply and they may still be competed for during 2019 but not with the vigor of the past few years.

As for the mortgage market, I think that we’re going to find that mortgage companies are going to come out with some new products, new solutions, new ways for people to borrow money and get a little bit more creative as the refi business has really much died down and we’re not going to see much refis as this is a rising interest rate environment.

As for rising interest rates, what are we going to see? That’s a little bit hard to predict. I think most of the gains and most of the increase we’ve seen in the latter half of 2018 already, they will go up probably a little bit more. Certainly by mid 2019 we’re going to see I think another quarter of a point. I think that’s going to be it for a little bit. That’s my prediction. I’ll catch you in 2020 to see if that is correct.

If you have any questions about the market, if this is a good time to buy or sell property, give me a call and we can discuss whether or not this is something you should be considering doing right now. As usual I tell my clients that first we need to talk about your lifestyle needs and what it is you’re going to be doing that would require new housing and then we see how the financial piece of it works out. Lifestyle first, family first and I wish you all a happy, healthy, joyous 2019.

Ruth Malkin Top Brookline Real Estate Agent

The Real Estate Market and the Holidays

Wondering if you should take your Greater Boston property off the market during the holidays? Watch the short video below to learn the advice I’m giving my clients.

 

Hi everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to talk about the real estate market during the holiday and the winter months, and about days on market and how it’s really time to look at that number a bit differently. So the winter months, we know that traditionally between Thanksgiving and roughly mid to late February the real estate market slows down substantially. I do want to point out, though, that in the metro areas, where we’re less sensitive to the school year cycle, these seasonalities are much more flexible and much harder to predict. There is a lot more activity going on then there used to be in winter months, partly because of the inventory shortage in the past few years and because it’s just been a year-round market. Sure, it cuts down a bit, but it has not stopped, and it has been active the past few winters and through the holiday season.

If you’re a home seller, you’re probably asking your real estate agent, or just like my clients have asked me, should I be taking my property off the market during the holiday? Is this something that I should be doing? So, to this, I ask, why would you be doing that? If this is a lifestyle decision, if selling the home during the holidays is going to be disruptive to you in any way, by all means take the property off the market. Let’s put it back on when this time has passed. But, if the motivation is because you do not want to accumulate days on market, to that I say, that is not a good enough reason not to be on market. It is time to think about days on market very differently. The market has changed. The days of a property going on the market and selling over the weekend, well, that’s going to be more and more rare, and even the best of properties are going to take a few weeks to sell. That is not unusual. It is unusual to us because of what’s been happening in the past few years, but that is not unusual for the market.

We need to detach ourselves from the days on market. And buyers, as home buyers, you shouldn’t even be too concerned about days on market. You should see it as no successful negotiation has happened yet. It is not a reflection on a property, whatsoever, or the quality of the property. You should be looking at if the home has been off market and on market several times, you want to ask, well, why hasn’t sold? Why has it been off market? That’s a great question. But, as a home buyer, to just look at a number of days on market and assume that it means anything except for, this home has been on the market for a while, and the market has slowed down is the wrong way to look at things.

So, home buyers, home sellers, it’s time to detach yourself from that number of days on market. It may not mean so much, especially in a changing market. Two years ago, last year, something has been on market 10 days, we’d worry it didn’t sell in one open house. What’s wrong with it? If you really think about it, that is outrageous. Let’s focus less on how long it takes to sell things. Let’s focus more on making sure a buyer is finding the right property, and a home seller is getting the right deal for their property, and trust that it will, although, it will take longer, it will happen. So, I wish you a wonderful, warm, winter, and holiday season.

Home Builder Sentiment: What Does It Mean?

Recent Home Builder Sentiment: What Does It Mean?

Home builder sentiment is very positive, currently around 70%, which is quite an optimistic outlook on the market. It is, however down from previous months. Why is that? Here’s my take on it all. Let me know what you think. I always love hearing from you.

 

Hi, everybody. It’s Ruth. I want to talk about the home-builder sentiment that just went down a little bit, and some agents have been talking about it. I spoke to some clients about it, and what does it all mean and why are home builders a little bit less optimistic about the market than they were last month?

The home builder sentiment is still very positive. It’s at 70%, which is quite an optimistic outlook on the market, but it’s a little bit less optimistic than what it was in the previous months, and why is that?

Number one, most builders are really worried that the cost of building is going up, so the cost of the actual materials of commodities, they’re really worried about it putting a damper on profits.

Number two, so much of the housing that has been built has been around luxury, high-end housing, and that market is actually slowing down considerably, so the luxury market has slowed, and we’re seeing that across the country in various price ranges, whatever the luxury echelon is in every market.

What does that also mean for home buyers? Hopefully, there will be a little bit more investment into smaller homes and entry-level homes, which is what home buyers really need and what we really have a shortage of. We definitely have a shortage of that in the Boston area.

Are we seeing a bit of a slowdown in the market? Yes, we are seeing across the board a slowdown in terms of the number of offers we’re getting on properties and the foot traffic we’re getting at open houses.

I’m talking to some agents from across the country. Everybody’s experiencing this, so properties are staying on a little bit longer, and the bidding wars are not as dramatic as they have been.

Is it still a seller’s market? Yes, but it is evening out a little bit in the past couple of months. Finally, for buyers, it has been a little bit easier to pick up the properties they want to live in.

If you have any questions, call, text. Write a comment below. Love hearing from you.

Boston Real Estate Market Update

Real Estate Market Update – June 2018

What’s happening in the Greater Boston real estate market? Here’s my Spring market update…. the real estate market is full of change and surprises.

Hi everybody, it’s Ruth. I wanted to give you a market update on the Spring real estate market. So the word on the street has been that Spring started a little bit late, that things seem a little slower than usual. We now have the statistics to prove to us, that hunch was correct with sales, the number of sales going down overall in the country and the year even, from last May to this May, the number of home sales is down 3%. On the flip side home prices are up 5% so it’s a tight market. We’re seeing the trend going up in prices as well.

Single family, the supply of single family homes though, is starting to inch up. There is more home sellers with single families going up. The condo market though is getting tighter overall. To me this says that we’re looking at very tight market places, very tight real estate options for buyers in metropolitan areas.

What else is going on? Well the interest rate is hovering around 4.5% but with the arms and with the 15 year you can still get a mortgage rate under 4%. So this is not gonna last probably much longer. I think this is a good time to leverage the interest rate. In the meantime, we are going to see a robust Summer. Usually things slow down, especially in Boston, the market slows down during the Summer. I think the Summer is going to be very, very busy. It’s going to be busy right through into the Fall season and into the Winter. Last Winter was very busy in Boston and it’s going to be again this year.

So late start on the market but I think we’re gonna more than make up for it in the latter half of the year. Lock in those interest rates if you’re thinking about buying. This is a great time to figure out what is the best way to secure an inexpensive loan. So if you have any questions, write comments below, text, call me, love to hear from you.

 

Should I Remodel?

Seems everyone is in spring cleaning mode. A common question I get asked is “Should I remodel or renovate my home if I plan on selling it?”

Here’s my answer:

Hi, it’s Ruth. I wanted to quickly talk about a topic that I’ve had a few conversations recently about and that’s should I remodel my home, or should I sell it and buy a different home? Here are a few ways to think about it that I hope will be helpful to you.

If you are generally enjoying your home and you see yourself making some changes and making that home work for you for the next seven years or longer. Seven, 10, 15 years, then by all means, do whatever you want to the home to get the most enjoyment out of it. That’s my recommendation if you really do enjoy the home and it’s working for you, for your family.

If you’re looking to stay in the home for one to seven years, then as always you should do the basic maintenance to keep the home functioning as it should. Any modest modifications would be a good idea so you do enjoy the home for the next few years, but I would say don’t go nuts. You may want to think about the return on investment in some of the renovations. So you do want to enjoy the home, but you don’t want to invest money that you’re not going to get back if you know this home is not going to be working for you in just a few years.

If you’re looking to sell the home within the next year, if you really do know that you want to move, my recommendation is, as always, maintain the home. Make sure everything is working, but do not invest a huge amount of money into the house. Certainly not on cosmetics.

As long as everything is functioning, I would say speak to me or your local real estate agent and figure out which items would be a good investment in and which would not, what are really buyers looking for in a house. But investing and redoing say a kitchen right before you’re going to sell it, we’re not sure you’re going to get that money back necessarily. It also may be an unnecessary hassle for you as well. So don’t start a huge project if you know you’re going to sell the house.

It’s amazing to me how many sellers, home sellers, we catch right before a huge renovation and when their intent is really to sell. We’ve saved them a huge amount of time and a huge amount of work. The best option observations is to speak to a real estate agent in your area who knows the local market, knows what the buyers are looking for, and you know what the prices are and what the return is.

Most likely major renovations in the short term are not going to pay back. By all means, if you’re going to enjoy that home for many years, go nuts. Do whatever you want to make it a wonderful home for you. If you have any questions, give me a call, text, write. Love hearing from you.
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Ruth Malkin Brookline Real Estate Expert

condo conversion

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.

 Watch this video to learn about condo conversion of a multi-family home in the Greater Boston area:

Doing a condo conversion 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 should turn your two or three family house into condos depends on a few factors.

Here are three important 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 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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how tax laws impact real estate

How The New Tax Law Will Impact Your Home

Are you wondering how the new tax laws will impact your home? I interview Bob Ingle, my accountant, about this important topic:

Ruth:  Hi, it’s Ruth again and I’m here with Bob Ingle at Ingle and Associates in Wellesley and we are talking about the changes in the tax code and how it’s effecting homeowners here in the greater Boston area especially. So, Bob, explain how the interest deduction is now changing with the new tax code.

Bob Ingle: Hi, Ruth. Thank you for having me on. Excuse me. As we all know, buying a home is a wonderful asset to purchase and the government helps out a bit by making the mortgage interest on the home deductible. The biggest change to the mortgage interest is on larger homes. When you have a mortgage of more than $750,000, which is fairly large in this day and age even in Massachusetts, the interest you pay on the mortgage in excess of $750,000 is not deductible, which curtails what deduction you can take and the tax savings that you have.

Ruth:  So, essentially what we’re saying is that the very high end homes and buyers who need to mortgage, to get a mortgage for those homes are going to be … Not being able to benefit as much from those deductions and their taxes essentially are going to go up.

Bob Ingle:  That is correct. That is on only new mortgages.

Ruth: Only new mortgages. So everything, any mortgage taken up to now is not going to be effected by this law.

Bob Ingle:  That’s right. The current limit is $1.1 million dollars of mortgage interest is deductible.

Ruth:  How is the state and local tax deduction going to change, Bob?

Bob Ingle:  All right. There is a change in this tax law. But let me first go back a step and saying that it’s always great to be a homeowner. The government likes you to be homeowners so they give you certain deductions that you don’t normally have beyond the standard deduction. In the past, you could only deduct taxes and real estate taxes paid if you itemize your taxes on your return.  They are now limiting the combination of real estate and state income tax deductions to $10,000 per return. That is a significant change in the tax law. People in the higher towns easily pay excess of $10,000 in taxes.

Ruth:   Yup.

Bob Ingle:   And then income tax on top of that. So, even though your tax rates might be going down, your taxable income is going up.

Ruth:   So, the places most effected by it are people with … Those who are most effected are those who are already paying high income taxes at the state level.

Bob Ingle:  Right.

Ruth:  And those who are living in towns such as Weston or Newton or areas where the real estate tax is very high.

Bob Ingle:   That’s correct.

Ruth:  So, it’s the combination of the local tax plus the state tax together, in excess of $10,000 is not going to be deductible.

Bob Ingle:  That is correct. That’s going to effect most of my clients. So, planning is very important going forward.

Ruth:  All right. Is there any way to mitigate this a little bit?

Bob Ingle:  A lot of my clients are paying the first quarter real estate for 2018 now, before the end of the year. But, no, there’s not much …

Ruth:   But by the time this comes out, it’s going to be too late.

Bob Ingle:  Right. So, we’ll stop here. We’re done.

Ruth:  We’re done. There’s no way to mitigate. They’re taking our money.

Bob Ingle:  Big Brother is watching us.

Ruth:  Take it up with the GOP. If you have any other questions about the tax code, you can call me but I’m going to ask you to call Bob instead. We are going to give all the contact information for Ingle and Associates and they can answer all of your questions about how specifically you are going to be effected by the new tax code. Thank you so much. You know where to find me. Call, text, write a comment below. We love hearing from you.

 

2018 real estate predictions boston

2018 Real Estate Predictions

Were my 2017 real estate predictions correct? What do I think 2018 will have in store for the Greater Boston real estate market?

Hi everybody, it’s Ruth. Happy New Year. Happy 2018. A quick video just to talk about what I think is going to happen in the Greater Boston real estate market in 2018. I think the first thing we’re going to see is finally more inventory. I did make that prediction for 2017, and I was wrong, but I am sticking to that prediction for 2018. I think finally we’re going to see some of that inventory come on the market and less pressure on the market. More homes to choose from.

With that, I see a flattening out of the prices. Prices only went up about 3.5% in Boston and Brookline in the past year, so I think the prices are just above flattening out. Less pressure, fewer multiple offers on each listing. This is great news for buyers. It’s going to be easier to pick up a home. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a buyer market. I think it’s still going to be a seller leaning market though.

Mortgage rates, last year I did predict they’re going to stay under 5%. The absolutely stayed under 5%. They’re hovering around 4%. I think they are going to go up a little bit and still stay under 5%. Mortgage rates are looking good.

I think the changes in the tax code and refer to a previous video I did with my tax accountant Bob Ingle about how the tax code is going to impact housing. I think it’s going to impact mostly housing in the higher end market, $1.5 million and above. These are the buyers that are going to feel that impact the most and maybe the buyers for those price ranges, their budgets are going to go down slightly. That may be reflected in the price as we will see.

 In general, I see a very active market coming up in 2018 in Greater Boston. The ultra luxury and luxury markets are going to be slowing down $2.5, $3 million and up. Slowing down already for the past year. They’re going to keep slowing down, which is the first indicator of a leveling off.

Some markets that are going to pop, I think the condo market in Brookline is still going to be extremely hot and the condo market in Brighton as well. We had almost no inventory last year in Brighton. I think that’s going to change and I think prices are going to go up more significantly in places like Brighton, in West Roxbury where these are entry level housing for Boston residents. And of course, Brookline and Newton on the lower end of the market, under $1 million are also going to be very active, very hot as young families are moving into these wonderful communities with excellent schooling.

Some of the hot topics that are going to be discussed in the housing realm in Greater Boston. One hot topic is going to be walkability. The closer the home is to a walkable area, meaning a place with some commercial activity and public transportation, the better the home is situated. Walkability is very high on the priority list and the lifestyle that the buyers are looking for.

As for the design trend, I think we’re going to see a continuation of a preference for minimalistic and smaller homes. More flexible designs. The location is more important than the square footage. We’re going to see higher prices per square footage for smaller homes. We’re going to see a continuation in that trend as families value open space and flexible space over the amount of space, and the location being the number one priority for most home buyers.

If you would like to discuss how the housing market in 2018 is going to impact you as a home buyer, as a home seller, I would love to talk to you individually. Every story is different. Everybody has different needs, a different lifestyle and a different home. Give me a call, write me a text, make a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful, happy, joyous 2018.

 
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Ruth Malkin Brookline Real Estate Expert

 

real estate tax rate

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Rates

Below find an interactive map of Massachusetts tax rates by towns created by Kurt Rosenfeld, including information on residential exemption.  Some of the highest real estate taxes, per $1,000 in assessed value, are in Longmeadow at $23.58, Wilbraham at $22, and Maynard at $22.

Lowest real estate taxes are paid in Hancock (Berkshire County) at $2.94 and Chatham at $5.03.  

Remember, the tax rate is calculated per thousand dollars of assessed value.  Even though Brookline’s real estate taxes seems fairly low for Massachusetts at $9.88, the high property value accounts for the sizable tax liability homeowners pay.  But Brookline, along with a handful of other towns, has a residential exemption. 

A residential exemption allows homeonwers to pay less taxes than real estate investors.  The exemption is a reduction in the assessed value of the home.  In Brookline the residential exemption saves homeowners nearly $2,300 for fiscal year 2017.  In Boston, homeowners save $2,435 this year, and in Cambridge $2,046.

For an interactive version of the map, click on it.  

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Rates

massachusetts real estate taxes

Massachusetts Real Estate Tax Map by Kurt Rosenfeld, March 2017. For details, five year rate history, and residential exemption information, click on the map for an interactive version.