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

Mass Save Refrigerator Recycling Rebate to End

I just noticed so thought I would share with you that it appears the MassSave refrigerator and freezer recycling program is ending at the end of this year.   If you are not familiar with the program, you can have them pick up a working refrigerator or freezer for a $50 rebate.

If you are thinking of selling your home in the spring and know you have a spare refrigerator or freezer you will be getting rid of, give MassSave a call before Jan 1, 2019 so you can get the rebate.  And better to have it taken out now before we have heavy snows.  The program will still exist after tha date, just not with the rebate.

You can find more information and schedule your pickup here:

https://www.masssave.com/en/shop/recycling/refrigerator-and-freezer-recycling/

The following eligibility requirements apply:
  • You must be a valid residential electric account holder of one of the electric sponsors of Mass Save.
  • Refrigerators and freezers must be working, plugged in, clean, and empty at the time of pickup.
  • Refrigerators and freezers must have an inside measurement between 10 and 30 cubic feet, which is the standard size for most units.
  • You must call to sign up before January 1, 2019 to be eligible for the $50 rebate.
  • A maximum of two units per electric account per calendar year will be accepted.

Have your electric account number handy to avoid scheduling delays.

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.  πŸ™‚

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.  πŸ™‚

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

 

 

Fall House Prep Checklist

The list below outlines all the important things you should do before winter sets in.  Many of you use landscapers and contractors to do much of this for you.  If so, contact them now.  The closer you get to the time that these things MUST be done, the less likely you will be able to get on their schedule so book ASAP.  If you need referrals to contractors, let me know.

The House – Outside

☐  Have Gutters Cleaned

☐  Draft-Proof the House – caulk around windows, check weather stripping and replace as necessary

☐  Check Your Roof  –look for tiles and flashing that are coming up.  If you don’t know what to look for, ask a roofer to look it over. Fix as necessary.

☐  Have Your Irrigation System Winterized – schedule this now!

☐  Drain Spigots – turn off the valve inside and then run the water to drain the water out.

☐  Check walkways for needed repairs – if stones are coming up or asphalt is split, it could wreck your snowblower or trip up people walking over snow and ice.

☐  Bring in Hoses and Flower Pots – the flower pots will freeze and crack if they have dirt in them or fill with water.  So, if you don’t want to bring them in, at least empty them and turn them over.

☐  Stow your Mower – it’s a good idea to take out the spark plug, put oil in the opening and run the mower for a couple of seconds to distribute the oil.  At the very least, drain the gasoline.  It will get stale over the winter.

☐  Check your Snowblower – make sure it runs! If not, have it serviced.

☐  Clean and Store your Patio Furniture – if you can’t store, at least store the cushions so they don’t get stained and moldy. Then cover the furniture, grill, etc.

☐  Check the House for wood rot and have replaced.

☐  Remove Screens and Put up Storms (or pull down)

☐ Weather strip your garage door – make sure critters cannot slip under the door

☐  Check Outside Lights and Replace Bulbs – better now than in the freezing cold!

☐ Seal cracks where mice can get in – they are going to be looking for a warm place soon.

☐  Remove Window A/C Units – if you cannot remove, cover them on the outside

☐ Take Pictures! – if you are going to be listing your house in the early spring, you may not be able to get good picture if there is still snow on the ground.  If you are a client of mine, planning to sell in the spring, I will have my photographer do this for you.  Just let me know.

The House – Inside

☐  Turn on the Heat to make sure it works

☐  Change Furnace Filters 

☐  Have Furnace Serviced – ideally you should have it checked every year, but if it is making noise, then definitely.

☐  Check Chimney(s) – birds and bats can nest up there, creatine can build up, bricks can come loose. If you don’t want to flash a light up there, call an expert.

☐  Check Smoke Detectors – it’s a good idea to blow the dust out of the detectors and make sure they work.  If you will be selling in the spring, you likely will have to change them all as the rules for smoke detectors changed in December 2016

☐  Reverse direction of Ceiling Fans

The Yard

☐  Seed Bare Patches in your lawn now so they can take hold before winter.

☐  Plant Spring Bulbs – now is the time!

☐ Plant Shrubs – so they can root for next year.

☐  Fertilize the Lawn with a high phosphorous mix (12-25-12) to ensure good grass in the spring. 

☐ Last Mowing to 1¼” – end of Oct is good time for this.

☐ Prune your Plants – this is somewhat complex, different plants must be pruned at different times of the year.  This article gives a great rundown

https://www.thespruce.com/how-and-when-to-prune-plants-1403009

☐  Divide Crowded Perennials – should be done every 3 years.

☐  Mulch New Beds – after first frost but before ground freezes

☐  Get rid of Annuals as they Die – snails and slugs feed on these and breed.

☐  Trim Spent Perennial Foliage to the ground so energy goes to the roots.

 

Buy

☐  Snow Melt – there won’t be any once snow arrives

☐  Shrubs to Round out your Landscaping – particularly if you are selling in spring.

☐  Restock Emergency Kits for your Cars

Click the image to get this list in a printable PDF format

If you are going to be selling your house in the spring, feel free to contact me now to talk about what you can do now to have the house look great at the beginning of the season.

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

Seller Testimonial – Newton

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