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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!

Renovate or Sell As Is?

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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West Roxbury Homes

West Roxbury House Prices: Steadily Rising

West Roxbury’s real estate market is not known to be “hot”, but prices have risen steadily.  The chart below shows median house prices for the past three years in West Roxbury.  You see the obvious dips during the slow winter months.  Compared year-over-year, this past week median listing price was $442,000, and $424,000 on the third week of November 2012.  Same time in 2011, median price was $389,000.  That’s a not-so-shabby 4.2% increase the past year alone.

Large Chart

 

Sure West Roxbury doesn’t have the frenzy of Brookline or Jamaica Plain, but I see a healthy and sustainable housing market.  As more young families are priced out of Newton and Needham, this little neighborhood will become more desirable.  Boston’s commitment to public school improvement will help.

Brookline Multi-Family House

Brookline Condominium Market: Will Buyers Remain Powerless?

The Brookline MA condominium market has been tight and getting tighter for a couple of years now.  Buyers compete for properties in any price range, and inventory remains low.  The number of buyers increase as the inventory has steadily decreased.

The graph below shows peak inventory in 2013 is lower than off-season inventory in the previous two years.

Large Chart

As interest rates remain low, more buyers enter the market and look for homes.  Second time buyers can finally sell or rent their first home easily.  First time home buyers are finding rents skyrocketing and lending more plentiful.

But why aren’t homeowners jumping at the market opportunity to sell their homes?  In a rising market, homeowners believe they will fetch more money for their home if they wait.  If recent history is an indicator of things to come, this is true.  Prices have been rising quickly.

Average price of sold condos:

October 2012: $580,753

March 2013: $630,326

October 2013: $671,088

 

But, alas, recent history is not an indicator of things to come.  It’s the longer history to consider with a fairly repetitive and predictable nature of the real estate market.  The tight conditions can’t last forever.

Potential home sellers will hold on to their Brookline condominium until they perceive the market has topped off.  By the time they put their home up for sale, buyers will regain power, the Brookline real estate market will be more even-handed. Days on market will start to climb and bidding wars will be over.  I predict this will be by the middle or end of 2014.

Those considering selling your home who do not have to buy another property in Brookline, this is a perfect opportunity.  You can take advantage of the last two seasons of a unique sellers’ market.

Buying Home in Seller's Market

Top FIVE Considerations When Buying a Home in a Seller’s Market

Are you trying to buy a home and failing miserably? Is the housing marketed giving you a kick in the butt?  Thinking of obvious things in a new way may help.

Buying Home in Seller's Market

This summer I am hearing from many people who are desperately trying to buy a home, yet every new home on the market is grabbed by someone else.  Buyers are tired and frustrated, feeling defeated.

It’s a tough market out there for buyers, no doubt.  In home buying, as in every successful endeavor, you must have a goal, a plan and system to execute your plan.  If you don’t change the way you are doing things, you won’t change the outcome.  What system have you been using to secure your new home?

There are several considerations where you need to review your approach, and perhaps find a new way to go about things.  Examine each of the following variables.

Buyers Agent.  In a seller’s market, you need a buyers’ agent.  Hire a good buyer agent you like and trust.  Someone who will advocate on your behalf, who’ll help keep you sane, and who will give you sound advice.

If the best advice you’ve received so far has been to pay more money, you are getting short changed.  Perhaps it’s time to switch.   It is okay to move on!  The best agents lose clients sometimes.  We can’t all be experts on the same markets, in the same situations and the best choice for everyone.  Find the person who’s best suited for you.

Price Range.  Are you looking in the right price range?  There are two ways to look at this question.  If you are looking at properties that are priced in your range, but sell for more, then you are really looking at a higher range you can afford.  Adjust the search for a bit less, and offer a bit more.  Stop expecting the market to stop for you.

Alternatively, are you sure you are looking for as much as you can afford?  A good mortgage broker will show you options in how to pay for your home, and you may be able to stretch further.  Please note, I advocate buyers only BUY WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD.  My point is to speak with a great mortgage broker to get your financial house in order first, and to know your affordability.

Clean Offers.  When making an offer, remember it’s not only about the money.  You can find ways to please the seller with fewer conditions or working around her schedule. Be flexible, and put your best foot forward.  Knowing when you don’t have the upper hand is important, stop fighting it.

Recently my buyers made an offer on a house in Arlington with the sellers’ ideal timing.  It is not convenient for my buyers, but they are making it work, while the seller is happily cooperating on every other part of the sale.

Furthermore, the seller will want to work with someone who is easy and pleasant.  Keep your neurosis to yourself.  Neurosis can be apparent in buyer agent behavior, the conditions in the offer, and your endless list of questions.  I say this with the greatest respect to all the neurotics out there, as I am one of you!

Stop the Insanity! You don’t have to get caught up in the insanity of the market.  The right place will come at the right time, and believe it will happen.  As a Realtor, I witness a lot of nutty behavior: Offers which do not reflect value, and buyers getting themselves into risky situations.  I don’t like my buyers in these situations, and try to steer them in the direction of good sense.

One way to avoid some of the insanity is to focus on stale inventory.  Some properties which go on market do not sell, and it is mostly because they are overpriced.  Go take a look at properties sitting on market – maybe you can make it work?  Maybe you will have some leverage as the only buyer in the mix?  You may even get a good deal!!!

Tip: Go take a look at all the stale inventory which roughly meets your criteria, plus take a look in another community if you can.  Widen the horizons, you may be surprised.

Don’t Buy.  Maybe it’s not your year to buy.  If you are selling your home and buying, unless you must move, then you should be in no hurry.  If you are renting, even thought rents are up, you could be better off staying put. Sure, rates are low, prices will likely continue to climb, yada yada yada.  A real estate agent can always tell you why you should buy NOW.  But maybe next year will be a better.

Critically review the way in which you have been going about your home search.  Try changing some aspects of it.  Remember, you must change your method if you want to change the results.

Cleveland Circle Condo with Parking

Recently Sold Condos in Brighton MA

The Brighton MA condo market is hot and getting hotter!  Homes recently sold in Cleveland Circle and near Wholefoods were on market for little time and many sold for over asking.  Here are a few recent condo sales, I represented the sellers on all of these.

Cleveland Circle Condo with Parking

8 Kinross Road Unit #A

Asking Price: $239,00   Sale Price: $241,500  Sale Date: March 14th 2013   Days on market: 2     Number of offers: 2

Basement unit, huge 786 sf one bedroom condo with parking in a high owner occupancy building with a pet loving policy.  Located near Cleveland Circle.

 

Cleveland Circle Condo for Sale

137 A Sutherland Road

Asking Price: $260,00  Sale Price: $265,500  Sale Date: January 28th 2013  Days on market: 6     Number of offers: 5

First floor of a two family house near Cleveland Circle.  Large open one bedroom with exposed brick, private deck and in-unit laundry.

 

Brighton Townhouse for Sale

 22 Abby Road #3

Asking Price: $439,000  Sale Price: $452,000  Sale Date: February 28th 2013  Days on market: 5     Number of offers: 7

Not your typical condo, this Brighton Mills townhouse was built in 2006 and features 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  Minutes to Harvard Square!

If you want a complete list of recently sold condos in Brighton MA, feel free to complete the form below or call me at 617.807.0471.

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Brookline MA condos

Brookline MA Real Estate: 2012 Condo Market Summary

Brookline MA real estate didn’t suffer as much in the downturn as the majority of communities.  Still, we see a substantial pick-up in the condo market.

Brookline MA‘s condo market is known to be spread over a wide price range.  The condominiums in Brookline come in a variety of styles, settings, types of buildings and sizes.  The condos make up of the overwhelming majority of sales with Brookline’s mostly urban setting.

The market picked up with a nearly 20% increase in sales, and 20% plunge in market time.  Depending on the price range, the Brookline MA condo market has less inventory than demand, pushing prices up.

2011 2012 Change
Number of Sales 473 559 18.2%
Average List Price  $578,000  $584,500 1.1%
Average Sale Price  $562,000  $575,000 2.3%
Median Sale Price  $490,000  $500,000 2.0%
Average Days on Market 75 60 -20.0%
Average Sale Price / List Price 97.2% 98.4% 1.2%

 

 

Brookline MA condos

 

Search Brookline MA Condos for Sale

Brighton condo market update

Brighton MA Condos: 2012 Market Summary

Brighton MA real estate picked up steam in 2012, and here are the numbers to prove it.

Below notice how both the number of sales and prices in Brighton MA have gone up, while the average days of market sank by nearly 40%.  The average sale price to list price ratio is also up, meaning sellers are getting nearly 98% of their asking price.    The pie chart shows sold Brighton MA condos in 2012 by their price range.

2011 2012 Change
Number of Sales 243 269 10.7%
Average List Price  $  286,500  $  297,000 3.7%
Average Sale Price  $ 276,310  $ 290,000 5.0%
Median Sale Price  $  246,000  $   257,000 4.5%
Average Days on Market 94 59 -37.2%
Average Sale Price / List Price 96.4% 97.6% 1.2%

Brighton condo market update

Search Brighton MA condos

Doing the Numbers: Brookline Real Estate Months of Supply

“Months of supply” in real estate is the closest thing we have to a forecasting tool.  The months of supply measures how long it would take to sell the current number of homes on the market.   Low inventory, means demand exceeds supply, hence rising prices are a logical expectations.  Anything under a three months supply is considered low inventory and a seller’s market.

Brookline’s condo market is extremely tight!  There are 72 condos on market, which is just over 1 month of supply.   I’ve included a chart breaking down months of supply by price range for Brookline condos.  You’ll find the $300,000-$400,000 range with low inventory, with about two to three weeks supply.  The $500,000-$700,000 price range has only at about two weeks supply.

The slowest Brookline condo segment is in the luxury $1,000,000+ market.  But it is still robust!

Brookline Condos

Next, single family homes.  There are 70 houses on the market in Brookline, which is 3.6 months of supply.  Brookline’s house market is a  seller’s market, not as strong as the condo market, though.  In most price ranges, inventory is between 2-3 months of supply, with few exceptions.  The popular $800,000-900,000 price range has only a three week supply of homes.   Buyers in this pricing category are having a tough time finding a home that delights.

Brookline’s luxury house market is a different story.  Six months supply of homes priced $4,000,000-$5,000,000, and 21 months supply of homes priced $5,000,000+.  This market has different standards, thought, and a house in this category is expected to take longer to sell.

The statisticians among you will tell me there are all sorts of issues with the measurements, but it is the best way we have to look at the current inventory of homes and get a sense of where we stand.  For me, anecdotes are great, just not enough.

Pricing Your Home

Common Mistakes in Pricing Your Home in Rising Market

 

Pricing Your HomeIn a real estate market with rising prices, pricing your home can be a bit tricky.   I meet some home sellers who think it is easier to price a home in a rising market, but that’s not necessarily true.  The risk of mispricing is always the same, and leaving thousands of dollars on the table is at stake.

Prices are just starting to inch up around the country, but as usual, Boston real estate is a bit ahead in this regard.  Many of Boston’s neighborhoods and immediate suburbs are enjoying visibly higher home prices for some months.  And the vibrant market has encouraged many who’ve been waiting to sell.

So how much is your home worth now?  In pricing your home, ensure you receive top dollar by avoiding the following common mistakes.

Looking at sold home prices online.  Sold home prices are a great place to start your research on your home’s value, but there are some issues.  Although the information is public and generally accurate, it can be misleading when using the mapping features of Zillow or Trulia.  A house nearby of similar size could have sold for a vastly different price than what your home is worth.  Unless you know a house well, it is dangerous to compare it to yours.

Furthermore, don’t confuse recent sold home prices with the “Zestimates” on Zillow.  Those are generally useless in Newton and Brookline, and many parts of Boston.  I’ve written about my reservations about Zillow as a data source before in my article, “No More Zestimates for Newton and Brookline.

Pricing too high.  You may think pricing a bit high in a rising market is not a big deal, but remember, we are just coming off a pretty ugly real estate slump.  Market is just starting to perk-up, buyers still hold some cards.  First-time home buyers are moving the market, and they are buying on a tight budget.  There is less negotiation, so do not assume that if you price high, you’re leaving “room to negotiate.”  Instead, you’re leaving room to sit on market and wait for an inevitable price reduction.

Pricing too low.  Some real estate agents will tell you there is no danger in under pricing a home because there will be multiple offers, and you’ll get the full value of the home as buyers bid up the price.  Bologna.  Agents say this because a cheaper house is easier to sell.  There is a strategy involved in multiple-offer situations, and it involves some thought.

Generating a multiple offer situation is never a guarantee, and can be risky when you are depending on the multiple offers to bring you the full value of the home.  Here’s a post I wrote about the dangers of under pricing.  A neighbor of one of my properties under-priced for a quick sale, and after the bidding war, the condo sold for about 10K short of top dollar.

Asking the wrong agent.  Real estate is not neurology, but it does require expertise.  This expertise is labor intensive, including looking at homes, meeting with buyers, writing offers, learning the market, reading the news, etc.  Ask the wrong agent, and you’ll get the wrong answer.  Speak with local agents who seem to know what they are talking about, preferably more than one if you have reservations.  A competent agent will be able to give you a price or a price range, with some precision and confidence, and back it up with recent sales and inside knowledge.

Input from a professional will always be the best place for you to price your home.  Make sure you don’t get caught up in the mistakes outlined, and you’ll sell your home for top dollar in no time.

If you are curious about how much your home is worth, click here.