DO POT SHOPS DEVALUE HOMES?

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts and the opening of shops in Newton potentially on the horizon, I am being asked if pot shops will negatively affect the value of homes in the vicinity of the shops.  The answer will surprise you – several studies on the subject all came to the same conclusion – pot shops increase the value of nearby homes. 

Almost all studies focus on Colorado given recreational sale of marijuana was legalized in January 2014, providing a good span of data to study.  But studies of states with at least 1 year of data show the same trend.

  1. Real Estate Economics, in this study, James Conklin and coauthors studied how the conversion of medical marijuana stores to recreational marijuana stores affected housing prices in Denver, CO. Their research provided strong evidence that homes located near such converted stores experienced a much higher increase in value than houses located farther away — as much as 8 per cent more.
  2. Economic Inquiry – in a recent article, Cheng Cheng and coauthors found almost similar results suggesting a 6 per cent premium in prices for homes sold in municipalities that legalized retail sales of marijuana, versus those that didn’t.
  3. Realtor.com found that since the first recreational pot shops opened, the median home price in the state jumped from $248,000 in the first half of 2014 to $298,000 in the first half of 2016. Realtor.com reports the four states with at least a year of experience with recreational marijuana sales showed a marked increase in home prices — well above the national median price.
  4. An academic study from two University of Mississippi economics professors, estimates that Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis and local governments’ approval of retail outlets within their jurisdictions increased housing values by an average of 6 percent.
  5. A second study, from the University of Wisconsin School of Business and economics researchers from two additional universities, focused on property values in Denver and found that homes near retail cannabis outlets — within just 0.1 miles — gained 8.4 percent more in value than houses just steps further away, from 0.1 to 0.25 miles. That big increase amounted to almost $27,000 for an average house.

SOME POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE INCREASE IN VALUE

  1. Homes around marijuana dispensaries may have been subject to a discount prior to legalization, but that legalization with no ill effect, lifted the stigma around such homes. We’ll have to watch home values in Newton over time to know if that is happening here, but so far, that does not appear to be the case.
  2. Another is that the stores had economic effects that were highly localized and boosted the economic profiles of their specific neighborhood – more jobs, bringing customers into nearby shops, paying high commercial rents, etc.
  3. Legalization led to a surge in housing demand prompted by marijuana-related jobs. And, as existing residents become more willing to remain in place, the housing supply drops as demand rises, thus the increase in property values.

It is a different story for communities harboring grow houses.  Surrounding properties do lose value because the pungent odor the plant emits turns off home seekers.

Another concern around legalization is the claim it will encourage more crime and further reduce home values of those living near growers, manufacturers, and retailers. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report indicates a 3.5% increase since Jan 2014.  It’s important to note, however, the city began tracking marijuana-related crimes as well, which make up less than 1% of all offenses.  Experts believe the growth is tied to population growth and and not directly tied to the sale or use of the drug.

One could see that the incidents of people driving under the influence could increase.  Particularly if they are driving to a shop to get their pot.  But I suspect that if people are the type to drive under the influence, they are already doing so.

It is highly unlikely that someone is going to mug you for the pot you have in your pocket considering it is legal for everyone over the age of 21 to grow their own pot at home.  The opioid and heroin epidemic is a far greater concern when it comes to crime.  As Realtors, we warn our clients not to leave any pain medication in their medicine cabinets as addicts have been known to come to open houses and rifle through medicine cabinets.  No one is going to come through your house looking for your pot considering they can legally grow or buy it themselves.

The biggest concern is robbery of pot shops.  Because marijuana is not legalized on a federal level, shops are not able to take credit cards or checks.  They therefore, carry a lot of cash, which makes them susceptible to armed robbery.   The shops and the federal government are looking for solutions to this problem, so this could get solved over time.

So the targets of crime are the cultivators and shops.  There is no evidence that people who live around the facilities are at a higher risk of crime.

The bottom line is that evidence so far indicates that home values increase in neighborhoods where there are recreational marijuana dispensaries.

I believe right now, the biggest risk to home values is the natural ebb of the market.   It is natural for the market to soften after several years of growth and that seems to be happening now.  Buyers are being much more selective in what they will put an offer in on.  They want move-in ready houses with new kitchens and baths, Central A/C, recessed lights, newer roof, windows, mechanicals etc.  In other words, new or like-new homes, and are willing to pay a premium for those.  Houses that do not have all this are starting to languish.  Particularly as sellers believe they are riding a wave of ever increasing prices and are pricing their homes too high.

I’ll be writing another blog entry on this topic shortly so stay tuned.

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

 

Buyer Testimonial – Newton

 

Michelle 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

State of the Real Estate Market – Jan 2018

by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

Housing Value

There are so many topics we can cover in talking about the state of the Real Estate market.  To be succinct, I will briefly cover these three topics.

  1. Tax Reform Bill
  2. Inventory
  3. Interest Rates

Tax Reform

There are many articles out there on the new tax reform bill and how it impacts homeowners.  I wrote one you can find here.  As you probably know, the key changes are that the Mortgage Interest Deduction has been capped to a $750,000 mortgage, down from $1m and that the maximum amount of real estate tax you can deduct is $10,000.  These changes will affect homeowners here in the Greater Boston area.  Today the median home price in Newton is $2,295,000, which would clearly require a mortgage over $750,000 for most people.  Moody’s is estimating that this will cause a 4% loss in home values from where they would have been if the Tax Reform Bill were not in place. 

Inventory

It is early in the year to be able to say where inventories will be for spring, but looking at a snapshot of today compared to the same day over the past 4 years, inventories are remaining low:

Newton Housing Inventory

Interest Rates

Given the Tax Reform Bill reduction in the Mortgage Interest Deduction only affects new mortgages (after Dec 15, 2017), it is possible that sellers will want to hang on to their existing mortgage and stay in their homes, which will further exacerbate inventory shortages.

Are now over 4%.  I expect they will stay there and possibly go up from there.  I say possibly only because rates have defied rate hikes by the Federal Reserve over the last couple of years.  The Fed does expect to make at least two more hikes in 2018. 

In Summary….

Because inventory is still low and people have not yet felt the impact of the Tax Reform Bill, I expect the spring market to still be brisk.  I suspect that the less desirable homes will feel the sting of the changes  by staying on the market longer.  By less desirable, I mean those that need a good deal of updating.  Buyers (who are not builders) are reluctant to buy these.  Once they make their downpayment, they don’t have money left over for updates.  If they have any money left over, they don’t have time to manage the projects, don’t want their children breathing in construction dust, and cannot find contractors to do the work.  

At the entry level prices (in Newton that is around $600K) you will find Buyers who are willing to take on projects in order to get into the city.  However, once you get to prices where they can buy a house  that does not need work, say $800K or more, they would rather get into a bidding war on an updated house than buy a project house.   If you want to know the value of your home, contact us here.

 

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell – Disposing of Things that Cannot go in Regular Trash Collection

This information is for those of you who live in the City of Newton.  If you don’t live in Newton and want the information for your town, just ask!

There are so many things to do to prepare a home for sale.  Then, once it is under agreement, a whole new set of To-Dos to get ready for closing.  Many home sellers don’t think about disposing of all the stuff they are not taking with them until they are packing to move which causes undue stress and can even hold up a sale.  So, to help those of you who will be selling this spring, the follow is useful information on the disposal of large bulky items and hazardous waste.

Some products which have been considered hazardous in the past can now be disposed of with the regular trash. These include:

  • Alkaline batteries made since 1994 (AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt)
  • Smoke detectors
  • Latex paint (dried out or with sand or kitty litter to solidify) OR bring usable (less than 3 years old) paint to the Latex Paint Exchange at the Recycling Center
  • Soiled bandages in plastic bags, securely fastened
  • Driveway sealer (latex or oil based, with lid off)

As you may know, the City of Newton will take up to 5 large bulky items (rugs, mattresses, etc.) per week on your normal collection day.  You just need to call by 3:30 on the business day before your collection.  You can schedule online by clicking 311 on the home page.  Or you can call the main number at (617) 796-1000.  You should start doing this weeks before your closing so that you can get everything removed before the day of closing.  Buyers don’t appreciate when there are large pieces of furniture and junk out front on the day of the closing and can even ask you to remove them before closing.

The city does not take construction materials such as cinder blocks, bricks, pieces of wood, old toilets, etc. To dispose of building materials, you would need to rent a dumpster or hire a junk removal company to take the materials away.

They also do not take TVs, Metal or Plastic as part of bulk pickup.  TVs and metal items can be picked up curbside or dropped off at the Recycling Center for a fee which you must pay online in advance.  Appliances can be dropped off for free or picked up curbside for $25 per item. MassSave will pick up working old refrigerators and freezers and give you a $50 rebate!

Large pieces of cardboard, plastic and metal for recycling can be dropped off for free at the Recycling Depot.

Hours and Address of Recycling Center
Monday-Saturday from 7:15am-2:30pm*
Closed on Sundays and Holidays

Located at 115 Rumford Ave, Auburndale, MA 02466 

There are many options for donating household items, clothing, and other useful items.  Too many to name here, so I will provide those in the next blog post.  Feel free to reach out to me if you need that info now.

2018 HAZARDOUS WASTE DAYS

First Saturday of the month and Third Thursday of the month – which are the following dates:

  • February 3rd
  • February 15th
  • March 3rd
  • March 15th
  • April 7th
  • April 19th
  • May 5th
  • May 17th
  • June 2nd
  • June 21st

 

MATERIALS ACCEPTED AT THE RECYCLING CENTER

The full list can be found here –Materials Accepted at the Recycling Center and includes things like paint, items containing mercury, batteries, auto products like oil and outdoor items like pesticides.  Please be a good custodian of mother earth and recycle these items instead of throwing them in the regular trash!

Stay tuned for more blog posts on getting your house ready.  If you are thinking of selling your house and want to go over all the step to get ready, reach out to me and I will be glad to help.

Michelle J. Lane

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

Congress Proposes Bill that will impact Affordable Housing

The WSJ recently published an article on Affordable Housing being at risk.  To net it out, members of Congress have proposed reducing the Corporate tax rate from 35% down to 15-20%.  Approximately 25% of all new apartment construction in the US is affordable housing.  So this will have a big impact on aaffordable housing.   As banks find these loans less attractive and reduce lending, projects will lose funding.  Investors have already started pulling funding for existing projects.  This will be a real shame for those who most need help finding housing.

Specifically in Newton Mayor Warren has set a goal of adding 800 affordable units by 2021.  This goal could be impacted by less available funding for affordable housing.  Fortunately, Massachusetts has Chapter 40B promote the building of affordable housing.  Basically, the way it works is that if developers allocate a minimum of 20% of the units to affordable housing, they can get a single comprehensive permit and 40B also allows them to override local zoning requirements.   Since those developers can make a good profit on the market value units, they may not be as dependent on loans from banks that are targeted towards building affordable housing.  

Overall, given many poor and working class people’s fears over housing costs, this is a shame because it has not even passed yet and estimates are that the affordable housing market has dropped by $1B.  

 

For more info on affordable housing opportunities in Newton – click here.

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

 

Best Elementary Schools in Massachussets – 2017

Mason Rice School

Mason Rice School, Newton MA

Niche.com came out with their 2017 list of best elementary schools in Massachussets.  Lexington, Newton and Wellesley dominated the list.  Mason-Rice fell from number 1, but is still, the highest ranking in Newton, which is creating demand for housing in that school district.   In all, 9 elementary schools in Newton made it to the top 25.  Great schools, combined with easy access to Boston via the Green Line and the Commuter Rail are really pushing up prices of homes in Newton. 

Here are the top 25 to save you digging through the list:

  1. Lexington – Maria Hastings
  2. Lexington – Bowman
  3. Newton – Mason Rice
  4. Wellesley – Schofield
  5. Lexington – Joseph Eastbrook
  6. Newton – Ward
  7. Lexington – Harrington
  8. Lexington – Bridge
  9. Lexington – Fiske
  10. Wellesley – John D. Hardy
  11. Wellesley – Hunnewell
  12. Newton – Cabot
  13. Belmont – Roger E. Wellington
  14. Wellesley – Sprague
  15. Newton – Angier
  16. Belmont – Winn Brook
  17. Newton – Countryside
  18. Newton – Pierce
  19. Newton – Memorial Spaulding
  20. Brookline – Heath
  21. Belmont – Daniel Butler
  22. Westford – Day
  23. Newton – Bowen
  24. Newton – Lincoln Eliot
  25. Wayland – Claypit

For more details on these rankings, check out the full list here:

2017 Top Elementary Schools in Massachusetts 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New to the Market – Gorgeous Newton Upper Falls Townhouse Condo

New to the Market today!  Newton Upper Falls Townhouse condo – 4-bedrooms 4.5 bathrooms.  

72 High Street. $1,389,000.

Gorgeous 3,400sf 4-bed, 4.5 bath, 1-car garage townhouse condo is the product of a to-the-studs renovation by an internationally-awarded local designer. His passion for design is evident in how beautifully the needs of today’s homeowner are blended with architectural details that provide the character and charm that make this a home. The spacious open kitchen/dining area offers gorgeous views and direct access to a patio, an enclosed porch and, beyond that, a deck and the yard. Imagine the parties you could throw! The kitchen is equipped with Viking appliances, Grohe fixtures and a huge island that sits 3-4. Entry way and living room share a double-sided gas fireplace. En-suite master bedroom has beautiful views. One more bedroom and bath on this level and two more bedrooms and a full bath on the third floor. Basement adds a finished room, full bathroom and beautiful mudroom area that is directly accessed from the garage. Stop by an Open House to see all this home has to offer.

Open Houses this weekend Saturday and Sunday  12:00 – 2:00.  Come on By!

Click here for more information.

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

Newton Upper Falls Townhouse Condos coming Soon

Coming Soon – Two beautiful completely reconstructing historic townhouses in Newton Upper Falls.

$1,325,000. each

by Michelle J. Lane

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Completely renovated by a builder with a passion for building a top-quality product that pays homage to the history of the original structure and neighborhood.  The unit on the right #70 is coming to the market first.  Measuring approximately 3,400sf, the unit offers 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a fully finished basement with direct access from the garage.  This home must be seen to be appreciated.  The oversize windows let in tons of light to every room.  The kitchen is wonderful – spacious with tons of storage and a generous eat-in space that opens to a beautiful deck; Viking appliances, Grohe fixtures, large island.  Views from the kitchen and decks are breathtaking.  There is so much to appreciate about this home. Click here for more information.

Michelle J. Lane

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

 

Newton Fall Cleanout Swap Day -Oct 8th

DROPOFF & PICKUP FOR NEWTON RESIDENTS ONLY

Swapping and Donating

recycleBring along usable but unwanted belongings for swapping or donating.   Bring your stuff, or just come along & pick something up – for free! • Appliances – Bicycles – Books • Household items and non-upholstered furniture (No mattresses or couches) • NO computer monitors, NO televisions, NO hazardous materials • Pretty much anything, so long as it is usable, non-toxic, non-hazardous – and clean! Recycling and Reuse…bring along any of the following and the City of Newton will make sure that they are recycled, re-used, given to charity or disposed of safely. • Fluorescent bulbs and other mercury-containing items • Cell phones, all printer cartridges, CDs, DVDs • Clothing • Paper, cardboard, glass, metal, stiff plastic bottles (#1 – 7) • Dead rechargeable batteries

When: Saturday, October 8th, 2016 8:00AM – 2:00 PM (item drop-off until Noon) Where: Rumford Avenue Recycling Depot (off Lexington Street in Auburndale)

Website: newtonma.gov/recycling

Newton Market Update – Week of July 4

July 5, 2016 by Michelle J. Lane, Realtor

While everyone is starting their summer vacations, the market typically does as well.   As most people know, the spring market is busy because people with families are trying to stay in their houses until the end of June, but be in their new house for the start of the school year.  The window for that to happen is just about closed.  So the market is now all about people selling and buying who are not bound by that schedule.  And, naturally, many of those buyers are home hunting in between vacations.

What does that mean for the market?  For the purposes of analysis, I look at just single family homes for the past two weeks.  It seems to have slowed down the high end, with more at that end being pulled off the market.

Newton Stats

Now you might think that is because the average price of a home in Newton is just so high that there isn’t much under $1m anyway. That is true to some degree.  But if you look at the chart below, you can see that the ratio of houses on the market to those that sold is far greater on the high end.

Newton Stats 2

So the bottom line is that there is not a bad time to sell houses in the $1.5m and under range.  But the high end is a bit tougher.

In terms of available inventory, things are about the same.  This time last year, there were 131 houses on the market.  Today there are 125.  But more of those are on the high end.  35 under $1m compared to 24 today.

So, the obvious trend is that housing is becoming far less affordable in Newton.  No surprise to anyone who is watching the market or trying to buy a house.

What would it take to change that?  As we know, the real estate market goes in cycles.  Roughly 1o year cycles where it goes up for several years, plateaus for 1 or 2, goes down for 2-3 then comes back up to surpass the high of the last cycle.  Serious economic shake-ups can shift the numbers a bit, but that is the gist of it.

So we will never go back to past lows.  But to slow down or correct this upward climb, interest rates would have to go up and jobs would have to leave the area in significant numbers.  Neither seems to be happening anytime soon.  As a matter of fact, the Brexit mess has caused our mortgage rates to go down.

So if you are a buyer looking in the under $1.5m range, keep at it.  It does not appear that things will get any easier with the passing of time.

If you are a seller, there is no bad time to sell.  The withdrawal of homes on the high end is not so much because this is a bad time to sell, but because supply exceeds demand.  But yes, putting them back on in the fall is not a bad idea.

If you are trying to figure out when to sell your house and for what price, contact me to schedule a meeting.

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