Is the Boston Market Slowing Down?

Yes, it would seem so.   As a Realtor, I can tell you subjectively, that it feels as if it is.  Buyers are looking, but not buying or are lowballing homes that don’t sell right away (usually those that need work or are on busy roads).  One might think that is just the normal slow down as we approach winter.  So I ran the numbers to check. I chose two neighborhoods in Boston, a town north of, west of, and south of Boston.  I have run these numbers only for single family sales.  Otherwise, it becomes like comparing apples and oranges.   It can be tough to tell what is going on just by median price.  Any town can have a fluke in one month where a pricey home or two sold or a couple of particularly rundown homes sold.  So I have included numbers for Days on Market (DOM), # of Listings Sold and a snapshot number of houses on the market today vs a year ago.  You can see that overall, the number of listings sold is going down while days on market is going up.  These are indications of a slow down, seasonally adjusted.

At the end of the year, we will update our spreadsheet that shows the numbers for most Eastern MA towns for the year, and shows the trending over the past couple of decades.  That can be found here – 

Boston Area Home Values

Town Sept 2017 Sept 2018 Oct 2017 Oct 2018
Newton        
Median Price $1,107,500 $1,002,500 $960,000 $1,220,000
Days on Market 41 45 25 61
# of Listings Sold 48 37 37 31
# on Market     118 127
         
Malden        
Median Price $462,500 $473,200 $450,000 $528,888
Days on Market 22 25 32 18
# of Listings Sold 24 17 16 9
# on Market     14 34
         
Dedham        
Median Price $484,500 $465,000 $486,000 $522,500
Days on Market 38 42 39 27
# of Listings Sold 12 15 21 22
# on Market     44 51
         
Jamaica Plain        
Median Price 871,000 $897,500 $705,000 $1,067,500
Day on Market 23 89 70 21
# of Listings Sold 5 4 5 6
# on Market     8 7
         
West Roxbury        
Median Price $575,000 $677,000 $605,000 $600,000
Days on Market 51 33 42 29
# of Listings Sold 18 10 22 23
# on Market     20 30

 

So what does this mean for Boston area home owners? No need to panic, this is part of the normal cycle of real estate values. If you are not looking to sell, you’ll be fine over time – check our spreadsheet for proof of that!  If you want to sell next year it may mean that you will have to put money and work into presenting your home in the best possible light.  And you will have to be realistic about price.  Every town and every house are different, so if you want to know what you need to do to get your home sold either this winter or in the spring, just reach out to me so we can discuss.

What does it mean for Buyers?  You may not be fighting so many people in bidding wars moving forward.  There will still be bidding wars.  Because this is an area with affluent buyers who all want a move-in ready home with great spaces and details.  If they have to fight someone for that, they will.  It’s the homes that need work or are in less desirable locations where good deals will be found.  

Buyers do need to keep an eye on interest rates.  If they continue to rise, which I expect they will, that may further supress home prices.  But you’ll be making up those savings with what you pay in added interest.  

If you want the analysis for your particular town, just ask.  And if you need help buying or selling, I am here to help.

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Century 21 Commonwealth is now Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Commonwealth

Starting November 1st, I will be a part of the Berkshire Hathway HomeServices organization!  While I have enjoyed being affiliated with Century 21 these past 9 years, I am looking forward to the change.  Century 21 is a very established company with a global presence and many JD Powers awards under their belt.  And I am going to miss getting my Academy Award Statues from them.  🙂

However, I am excited about the change.  Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the fastest growing Real Estate brand today with 47,000 agents worldwide.  And the brand was just recognized as Real Estate Agency Brand of Year and Most Trusted Real Estate Brand in the 2018 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study.

Personally, I feel the colors and branding of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices are more polished and better suited to a luxury brand in a luxury market.  My sellers will appreciate the more elegant home selling materials.

Nothing changes on the back end.  Commonwealth is simply changing their affiliation from Century 21 to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.  We still have the same 22 offices (and will be adding more), the same 500 agents, the same marketing, great service and all you have come to expect.  You will still reach me in all the same ways you did before. 

Here is a link to the full press release.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this change.

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

 

What Home Will you Buy if you Win the Megamillions $1.6B?

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

With a lottery pot of  $1.6B, one can’t help but dream of what that money can buy.  Let’s say you win, you are probably going to wind up with about $600 million of that if you take the lump sum and then the IRS and DOR take their pound of flesh.  But $600 million can definitely buy you a very nice house – or two.  What if you decide to stay in the Boston area?  Below are the highest price houses on the market today – in the city, in the suburbs and on the water – take one or take all!  Just remember to call me to help you find that home of your dreams.  When you have that kind of money, you can find your dream house even if it is not on the market.  Almost anyone will move for the right price.  🙂

So for the fun part – below are those houses.  Click on the photos for the full listing information.

Most expensive condo in Boston – The Archer Residences Beacon Hill – On Market for $18,000,000

6,000sf, 3 Parking spots, Infinity Pool….click photo for more info.

Most Expensive Single Family Home in Boston – Back Bay Townhouse – $15,000,000.

8,350sf  on 6 levels – 2 garage spots, 2 outdoor.

 

Most Expensive Home in the Suburbs – Brookline $69,000,000 

26,000sf on 14 acres.  This home is in the most affluent section of Brookline where you will have the likes of Tom Brady and Robert Kraft as neighbors.  You definitely won’t spot your neighbors from this house though.  You probably wouldn’t find your own family in this house!

Most Expensive House on the Water – Barnstable -$10,760,000 

10,000sf on 6-acres with 1,700sf carriage house and caretaker’s quarters.  6-car garage and, of course, all that waterfront!

 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

 

 

Income by Percentile in Massachusetts

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

For those of you who received my recent newsletter you know that the real estate market in showing signs of slowing growth.  There are serveral reasons for this.  I mentioned that a major reason is simply that buyers have hit the wall on how much house they can afford.   This post provides some background on what that means.   

Looking at the country as a whole, the income required to be a top earner is as follows.  

  • $480,930 – to be considered in the top 1% 
  • $214,462 – to be considered in the top 5%
  • $138,031 – to be considered in the top 10% 
  • $122,744 – to be considered upper class (earning twice the median of $61,372)

Contrast that with what it takes to be in those same percentiles in Massachusetts:

  • $582,774 – to be considered in the top 1% 
  • $260,286 – to be considered in the top 5%
  • $192,612 – to be considered in the top 10% 
  • $164,760 – to be considered upper class (earning twice the median)

The good news is that more people in the Boston metro area earn an income in the Upper Class bracket than in the rest of the country.

The bad news is that the median price of a single-family house in the Boston area is $615,000 vs $200,000 in the US as a whole.   Other surrounds towns median prices are as follows:

  • Brookline – $1,760,000
  • Newton – $1,202,500
  • Wellesley – $1,433,250
  • Milton – $688,000
  • Cambridge – $1,442,500
  • Somerville – $752,500
  • Medford – $611,000

If you want the numbers for your town, just ask and I will look that up for you.

SO, the median home price in the US is 3.26 times the median income of $61,372. The median home price in Massachusetts is 7.45 times the median salary of $82,380.  

In Newton, where I live, the median income is $147,854. The median home price is $1,202,500.  That is a ratio of home prices that are 8.13 times the median income. This is untenable. Granted, the Boston area has more high income earners than other parts of the state and certainly, other parts of the country.  See the chart below.  But there are only so many high earners to buy in the area and those earners want the best houses – those that are new or in like-new condition and in desirable locations.  That leaves sellers who do not have new or near-perfect homes with a smaller pool of buyers which is why we are seeing a softening of the market on the lower end.  Higher interest rates are bound to compound the problem.

The good news is two-fold 

  1. every house can sell.  It just has to be priced right for the amount of money and effort you are willing to invest to prepare it for the market.
  2. because of low inventory, the market is not going to slump. It appears, for now, simply that price growth is slowing.

 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

 

 

Buyer Testimonial – Walpole

Michelle knows her trade really well and was instrumental in getting the required paperwork as well as navigating, explaining and communicating through the process. Really glad that she was helping us with this purchase.

Michelle has an uncanny ability to read her audience and explain/communicate at the appropriate level. She was also incredibly helpful in getting the process on track whenever we had challenges or delays.

Michelle was amazing with driving the closing to the end. Great job!

Mauro Torres, Easton, MA

Buyer Testimonial – Medford

1025 FellswayMichelle Lane is professional in her career and well understands the customer’s needs. She is knowledgable about the market, very respectful, helpful, friendly, patient and is alway accessible to provide information and support. I would strongly recommend her.

Buyer Testimonial – Grafton

27 MeadowbrookSimply put, working with Michelle was a wonderful…and easy…experience. ~ Seth Wulsin, Newton

Buyer Testimonial – Newton

42 FairhavenMichelle understood my needs and wants very quickly and was efficient in finding me the right properties. She well negotiated for me and kept it real. She helped me with the hard conversations and issues very well and was on top of every detail to the very end!
 
Kelli, Newton

Median Price of Single Family Homes in Boston Area

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

This map shows the median price of Single Family Homes in the Greater Boston area.  This is based on closed sales in March 2018.  While these numbers can and will change month-to-month and year-to-year, this gives you an indication of how one town’s median home price compares to another.  To see how these numbers compare to past years’ values, refer to our Chart of Home Values over the Years  I expect that these numbers will go up as the year progresses as there is no end in sight to the tightness of inventory.

Stay tuned as we will break down the median price of condos and single family homes in Boston in a future post.

 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

What are the Requirements to Call a Room a Bedroom?

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

When listing properties, the question often comes up – can they call this room a bedroom?  The questions typically comes up for rooms without a closet or room in basements.  The legal requirements for a bedroom are listed below.   The surprising answer is that a closet is not required.  However, particularly with basement and attic rooms, the ceiling height and second form of egress become the issues.   Most basement and attic bedrooms do not meet the ceiling height requirement.  Basements also typically do not meet the requirements for window size.  As your agent, I need to follow these requirements when listing your home.   Beyond that, Buyers get annoyed when Sellers stretch the description, measurements or room count of their house.  

If you are a buyer, you can use this outline to determine if a listing is property advertising the number of bedrooms.  

  

Seven features that define a bedroom

  1. Minimum square footage:  In Massachusetts, 70 square feet is the acceptable minimum.
  2. Minimum horizontal footage:  A bedroom must also measure at least 7 feet in any horizontal direction.  So a 7×10 or 8×9 would work as a minimum size.
  3. Two means of egress: There must be two ways out of a bedroom. Traditionally, these would be a door and a window.
  4. Minimum ceiling height: At least half of the bedroom ceiling must be at least 7.5 feet tall.
  5. Minimum window size: The window opening must be a minimum size, usually 5.7 square feet. The bottom of the egress window opening cannot be any higher than 44” from the finished floor.  The minimum egress window opening height is 24” high. The minimum egress window opening is 20” wide.
  6. A heating and cooling element: We’re talking a heater (a space heater won’t qualify) as well as a way to cool it down, whether that’s by opening a window or good old AC.
  7. Electricity – Two separate wall-type convenience outlets, or one outlet and one electric light fixture. The outlets shall be placed in practical locations and shall insofar as practicable, be on different walls and at least ten feet apart.

Does a bedroom need a closet?

Legally, a bedroom does NOT need a closet to be considered official.  Closets are expected in newer homes.  But back in the day, people did not have nearly as much clothing as they do today so clothes were stored in chests or dressers, with maybe a couple of things being hung on a hook.  The hanger was not invented until 1869.  That’s why, if an older house does have closets, they are shallow and many still have the original hooks in them.  

If you have a room that does not meet these requirements, you could get away with calling it an office, nursery, playroom or bonus room.  Buyers will appreciate your honesty in not calling it a bedroom. 

Michelle J. Lane
MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904