The Housing Shortage by the Numbers

If you are feeling like there are just not enough houses on the market this spring, you are not imagining things.  A recent article on outlined the problem.  In short:

From 2009 (the slump) to today new construction of single-family homes, condos, and apartment units totaled 5.6 million.  Over the same period, roughly 1.7 million housing units were deemed uninhabitable or obsolete and were demolished.  That is a net of 3.9 million houses.

In that same time period, the population grew by 17.3 million.  Given the average household size is 2.5 persons, a total of 6.9 million new housing units would be needed – a shortage of 3 million homes.  So no surprise that home ownership is down 3.7% since 2009.

Add to that the fact that incomes have grown at slow pace – 2% over the past year.  While home prices have risen by 6% in the same time period.

To give a more local perspective, below are some local comparisons from 2009 to today:

  • The median price of a single-family home in Newton grew from $939,000 to $2,124,999.
  • The median price of a condo in Boston grew from $419,900 to $829,000.
  • The median price of a condo in Cambridge grew from $489,500 to $668,000
  • The median price of a condo in Somerville grew from $364,450 to $709,950

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that retired adults are moving back into the city.  Everyone want to live in walkable neighborhoods.  Typically, these retired baby boomers have the money (in cash) to buy up properties that would normally be bought by young families working in the city making the battle for these limited properties more frenzied.

That is not to say that prices are up everywhere.  Home values follow the jobs.  The farther you are from the Boston/Cambridge mecca of job opportunities, the less likely it is that prices have risen.  For example:

  • The median price of a single-family home in Worcester is exactly the same at $214,900, while condo prices are down.
  • The median price of a single family in a majority of towns outside the Greater Boston area are up about 5% in that same time period from 2009 to today. – from cities such as Lowell to suburban towns like Boxboro, Georgetown, Foxboro, etc.  While that is great for people looking to buy in these towns, it means the possibility of selling in one of these towns and moving closer to the city is drifting off farther into the distance.
If you want to know what has happened to home values in your town, just ask.
All this means that we need more new construction.  A problem that is not easy to solve.  Debates on this topic can be followed in the editorial section of most local papers and no one seems to have the answers.  The cost of land in these towns make it impossible for builders to create affordable houses. 40B is flawed in that a builder must just put aside 20-25% percentage of units as affordable, while the units overall could still be super expensive.
Hopefully, the state, cities and developers will come up with creative solutions – perhaps more development of micro apartments for single adults and clusters of small houses on small plots for seniors or couples starting out.
If the state is smart, they will build more and better commuter transportation so people can live in suburban towns and not feel like they are so far from the action.  These suburban towns may even need to up their game on building centers with more to do and better transportation within the town so seniors don’t need to own a car or have a driver’s license. We shall see what the next few years bring.
In the meantime, it does mean though that home buyers will have to move farther away from the city to get a property they can afford.  Or be willing to buy a home that needs a lot of updating – or both.
If you need help finding a home, just ask.  You can complete this survey to let us know what you are looking for and we will contact you to start your path to home ownership – Home Buying Survey

Michelle J. Lane

Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904




Condition and Home Value

I just finished reading an article about improvements that do not impact home value – and could not agree more.  Why?  Because most of these “improvements” fall under the category of maintenance – painting the house, new roof, new gutters, replacing a furnace or A/C, etc.

When you own and love a home over many years, you can become blind to the nicks, scratches, and dings – to you they are just reminders of the lives lived in the home. But deferring maintenance seriously impacts the value of your home.  Location is not everything.

Given industry estimates are that you should conservatively spend at least 1% of the value of your home on maintenance each year, you should assume that after 20 years of not replacing anything major in your home or painting or freshening up, it is worth at LEAST 20% less than the home of your neighbor who has been maintaining their home all along.




MA Small City Rankings on WalletHub

WalletHub has ranked the best and worst small cities in the U.S.  Lots of positive news for Massachusetts.

Northampton ranked the highest MA town on the overall list at #8.   The rest of the Top 10 are:

  • 14 – Milton
  • 26 – Lexington
  • 105 – Wellesley
  • 120 – Danvers
  • 138 – Saugus
  • 143 – Somerville
  • 150 – Melrose
  • 165 – Newton
  • 171 – Needham


To find the best small cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared 1,268 cities across four key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Economic Health, 3) Education & Health and 4) Quality of Life. For our sample, we chose cities with a population size between 25,000 and 100,000 residents. Please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.

Lists on which MA ranked highest.

WalletHub - Most EducatedWalletHub - MIllenials

WalletHub - Highest Percentage with Health Insurance

 Click Here For the Full Breakdown

Other key findings for Massachusetts home buyers –

MA ranked #1 as the best state for education.

  • 9th Happiest State
  • 13th Best State to Have a Baby
  • 5th Best State for Working Moms
  • 21st for Women’s Equality
  • 11th for Nurses
  • 28th for for Doctors

So Massachusetts has a lot going for it. Not the best state for retirement – will cover that in a future blog post.  So that tells me this is a great state for everything from going to college up to retirement, then it might be time to move someplace warmer, less expensive and slow paced (could we actually slow down?).  Whatever phase you are at, if you need help Contact Me.

Michelle J. Lane

Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904 School Rankings for 2016


The rankings out and no real surprises here.  The Top Ten School districts are the usual suspects.

  1. Lexington
  2. Dover-Sherborn
  3. Acton-Boxboroough
  4. Brookline
  5. Wellesley
  6. Weston
  7. Westwood
  8. Newton
  9. Belmont
  10. Westford

The full list can be found here – Top School Districts in Massachusetts

The Top Ten Public Elementary Schools

  1. Lexington – Joseph Eastbrook
  2. Lexington – Maria Hastings
  3. Lexington – Bridge
  4. Lexington – Bowman
  5. Lexington – Harrington
  6. Newton – Ward
  7. Lexington – Fiske
  8. Sharon – East
  9. Newton – Mason Rice
  10. Weston – Field Elementary

The full list can be found here – Top Elementary Schools in Massachusetts

The Top Ten Public High Schools

  1. Lexington
  2. Brookline
  3. Boston Latin
  4. Acton-Boxborough
  5. Dover-Sherborn
  6. Cambridge Rindge & Latin
  7. Wellesley
  8. Weston
  9. Westwood
  10. Belmont

Newton Ranked 11. for North and 13. for South.  The full list can be found here – Top High Schools in Massachusetts

Overall, Massachusetts ranked Number 8 in States with the best schools.  For my CT friends, CT ranked Number 4!

Cambridge was the only Massachusetts city in the Top 100 Cities in the US in which to raise a family. Perhaps because it ranked #2 behind Manhattan in cities with the Most Things to Do. (Boston ranked #4).  Because they categorized Newton as a town instead of a city, it was not on that list, BUT it was Number 8  (and the only Massachusetts town) on the list of Best Towns to Raise a Family. 

Newton, Framingham and Waltham made the Top 100 Towns for Best Community.  The criteria for these selections includes interesting and important criteria such as the grades given to each school weighted by the number of students served, higher education rate, diversity, income equality, etc.  These towns also ranked high on easiest commute.  You would think that Cambridge would have ranked high in easiest commute given the number of jobs  there.  But few people who work in Cambridge can afford to live there or may choose not to because a house with a yard is insanely expensive.  So the commute for people who work there, but don’t live there is not the best.

Certainly, it would seem that, as in the past, Cambridge and Newton are going to be the areas that will boom again in this spring market.  However, any of the towns in the list of Top 50 school districts will fare well if the commute works for the people living there.  It is good to see that towns like Framingham and Waltham can offer an affordable alternative to those looking for an overall good town in which to live in which they can be part of a vibrant and diverse community and that offers a solid educational experience for their children.

If you or someone you know is looking to buy this year, contact me and we can analyze which towns make the most sense given what matters most to you.

Michelle J. Lane

Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Open House West Roxbury Chestnut Hill 2-Bedroom Condo 1:30 – 3:00

36 Westgate

OPEN HOUSE TODAY – 1:30 – 3:00

36 Westgate Rd, Unit 2 – $216,000

LaGrange to Westgate.  Follow Open House signs to the front door.  Ring the buzzer if door is not open.

Great garden level unit that gets great sunlight through large windows.  Hardwood in main living area.  New carpeting in the bedrooms.  Comes with 2 parking spots.  Condo Fee of $344 includes heat, hot water, swimming pool, tennis courts, landscaping, snow removal.  Great complex. Great area to live!

Michelle J. Lane

Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Great Entry Level home in Needham! $485,000

541 Central Ave

This adorable 4-bedroom, 2-bath Cape is an awesome entry-level home with huge potential. First floor has living room with fireplace, dining room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, a full-bath and a heated enclosed porch with phenomenal views of the back yard. Upstairs has two more bedrooms and another full bath. The walk-out basement has high ceilings and great potential to be finished. There is gas on the street. With your updates or expansion this house can fit a family comfortably for years to come. The GORGEOUS, huge back yard abuts conservation land and offers the oasis you would want in your own piece of land. Close (0.7miles) to the center of town, the T, shopping, etc. Easy access to major routes.

More Info Here

CONTACT ME for a showing.

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

New Listing – 2-bedroom condo in West Roxbury $219,000

36 Westgate - Kitchen (3)

Spacious 775sf 2-bedroom,1-bath Chestnut Village Condo. This is a two-bedroom garden level unit featuring an eat-in kitchen and SS appliances. Newer windows.New range and dishwasher. Wood floors in kitchen and living room, tiled bathroom floor. Freshly painted with new bedroom carpeting. Unit comes with 2 assigned parking spots. Complex is professionally managed onsite with live-in superintendent. Complex includes pool, tennis courts, playground and on-site laundry. Close to shopping, restaurants, Route 9, Putterham golf course, Chestnut Hill “T” stop and commuter rail. MBTA BUS #37 is close by. Taxes do not reflect residential exemption.

More Details Here

CONTACT ME for a showing.

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Huge Price Drop on Gorgeous Chestnut Hill Home!

Was $5,150,000.  Now $4,699,000.

55 Lyman Road Brookline MA - Twilight007-1846239-large55 Lyman Road Brookline MA - Kitchen (5)55 Lyman Road Brookline MA - Master Bath (2)

Phenomenal new construction in the most prestigious Brookline neighborhood.  This home has everything you would expect in a luxury home. 6-bedrooms, 6-baths, custom kitchen with high-end appliances, marble counter tops and so much more. Heated 3-car garage, central Vac, radiant heated floors in all the bathrooms. 1-wood burning fireplace and 2- gas fireplaces.  The list goes on…..

CONTACT ME for a tour.

Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

New Great Price on Needham Starter Home

541 Central Ave
Great New Price on this Needham Starter Home – 4 bedroom, 2 bath Cape with a gorgeous back yard
541 Central Ave, Needham
Was $524,900 now $485,000.
Open House Sunday, Sept 13, 12:30 – 2:30.  Come by to check out this cute house.
It won’t last at this price!!
Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904

Homes Sold in Newton MA – Week of May 18, 2015

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Memorial Day weekend with your loved ones.

The best way to understand the value of homes in Newton and which way they are trending is by looking at what has sold, for how much, and whether it went for above or below asking price.  The sales for this week are below.  I should clarify that a sale means the deal has closed.  So the actual offers on these properties were make roughly 6 weeks ago.  This is not the same as what went under agreement, which will be in my next post.  With homes that went under agreement, we cannot know what they sold for until they close in about 6 weeks.

As you can see, the trend continues that houses under $1M are still going strong and getting into bidding wars.  Those over $1M are still selling for right around their asking price, some are going over, but not at the same percentage as the under $1M inventory.

Email Me if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Newton.  I am glad to help.

96 Harding 96 Harding Street
West Newton
2 Beds, 1.5 baths
Living Area: 1,380
Sale Price: $646.108
Asking Price $589,000
Days on Market: 8
46 Jerome 46 Jerome St
West Newton
3 beds, 2 baths
Living Area: 1,478
Sale Price: $712,000
List Price: $649,000
Days on Market: 6
131 Waban Hill North 131 Waban Hill Road North
Chestnut Hill
3 beds, 2 baths
Living Area: 1,768
Sale Price: $950,000
List Price: $899,000
Days on Market: 1
7 Shorncliffe 7 Shorncliffe Road
Newton Corner
3 beds, 2.5 bath
Living Area: 1,732
Sale Price: $1,025,000
List Price: $997,988
Days on Market: 18
104 Manet 104 Manet Road
Chestnut Hill
3 beds, 3.5 bath
Living Area: 2,858
Sale Price: $1,250,000
List Price: $1,195,000
Days on Market: 31
43 Woodcliffe Rd 43 Woodcliff Road
Newton Highlands, MA
6 beds, 2 full, 2 half
Living Area: 3,906
Sale Price: $1,210,000
List Price: $1,199,000
Days on Market: 7
703 Chestnut 703 Chestnut Street
6 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 2,850
Sale Price: $1,445,000
List Price: $1,500,000
Days on Market: 9
525 Hammond St 525 Hammond St
Chestnut Hill
4 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 3,672
Sale Price:$1,785,000
List Price: $1,575,000
Days on Market: 29
17 Rachel Road 17 Rachel Road
Newton Center
5 beds, 5 baths
Living Area: 5,107
Sale Price: $1,650,000
List Price: $1,699,000
Days on Market: 69
45 Colbert Road East 45 Colbert Road East
West Newton
5 beds, 3.5 baths
Living Area: 3,870
Sale Price: $1,800,000
List Price: $1,799,000
Days on Market: 4
155 Hobart Rd 155 Hobart Road
Newton Center
5 beds, 5 full baths, 2 half
Living Area: 6,240
Sale Price: $2,850,000
List Price: $2,995,000
Days on Market: 313
Michelle J. Lane
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904