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From Boston Metro Real Estate Broker, Bill Patterson

By Bill Patterson | Broker in Boston, MA
  • Readers Poll Results

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Boston, Home Buying in Boston, Property Q&A in Boston  |  August 8, 2014 9:56 AM  |  15 views  |  No comments
    In late Spring, I sent a quick poll out to 4,700 subscribers of my newsletter. Wait, you don't subscribe? Well, just click here and get on board.

    Here are the results to a variety of life-style questions:

    Swimming pools. Good? Bad? Only bad if above ground.
    • Bad, especially bad if above ground. Over 90% of responders were negative about pools.

    If you had to pay for parking, how much would you really be willing to pay?
    • While 41% were steadfast in their refusal to pay, most were willing to pay between $7,500 and $30,000 to purchase a parking spot.

    If you could move today, where would you move to?
    • 58% said "Into the city"
    • 35% said "To the suburbs"
    • The rest would move to the exurbs or rural areas.
    If you could live without a car, would you?
    • 52% No
    • 48% Yes
    If you had to pick, which of these neighborhoods would you move to?
    • 36% Medford Square
    • 30% Eggleston Square, JP
    • 19% East Boston
    • 10% Ashmont / Peabody Square, Dorchester
    • 9% Dudley Square, Roxbury
    • 9% Uphams Corner, Dorchester
    • 7% Chelsea
    • 5% Codman Square, Dorchester
    The two biggest surprises of the survey were the strongly negative viewpoint on pools and the high result of Eggleston Square. I tossed Medford Square into this question almost as the "control" as the area is pretty well known and has been the recipient of a lot of positive press over the past two years. To see Eggleston, essentially, tie this location was impressive.
  • Rising Tides - Changing Flood Insurance Rules

    Posted Under: Home Ownership in Boston  |  July 29, 2014 6:15 AM  |  43 views  |  No comments

    Do you have flood insurance? If yes, good for you! The City of Quincy found itself in the crosshairs and have done a really great job on informing the public about the changes that are coming with the FEMA flood maps.

    This is a link to a very well written, easy to understand and comprehensive breakdown of what is happening now.

    Quick Breakdown
    - If insured since before 2014, your flood risk-zone is permanently grandfathered
    - Rate increases are capped at 15% per year

    The Quincy document, obviously, really zeros in on the city itself. It is a great document and I do think that everybody should look at it, even if you do not live in Quincy.
  • Summertime is the Right Time

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Boston, Property Q&A in Boston, Home Ownership in Boston  |  July 28, 2014 2:09 PM  |  46 views  |  No comments
    Sizzling sun and high humidity don't usually turn a mind to heating systems. Most are thinking of air conditioners, beaches and maybe a frozen cocktail. Well, that is precisely why the summer time is the best time to upgrade or repair your heating systems. Heating techs and plumbers are available, not too busy answering calls on how someone's boiler is out. You can even find some surprising deals on labor rates and equipment.

    Just this week, National Grid announced a new rebate of a whopping $800 to convert to a tankless / on-demand hot water heater. These systems can be used to heat water or even heat your home via forced hot water. Savings from using these systems as opposed to conventional boilers or hot water tanks can be substantial. The rub on these systems, however, is that they can be expensive to buy and install.

    From National Grid:

    "For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%– 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR certified tankless water heater.

    The initial cost of a tankless water heater is greater than that of a conventional storage water heater. A tankless water heater will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs, which offsets its higher purchase price. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years. In contrast, storage water heaters last 10–15 years."

    Pretty nifty, eh?

  • Rent Prices - Allston vs Dot. This Might Surprise You

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Boston, For Rent in Boston, Rentals in Boston  |  March 5, 2014 8:53 AM  |  588 views  |  No comments
    Today I was running some searches for a client of mine. He wants to rent a new place in the city and is up in the air about neighborhoods. While combing through the studios, one bedrooms and the twos I started to notice something. Dorchester is getting, well... kinda expensive! Honestly, I am pretty surprised but this really underscores two things:
    1. The lack of inventory right now. Inventory of residential units for rent and for sale are incredibly thin. Just ask anybody that is out there looking for a new place right now. It is crazy.
    2. North Dorchester Parishes are becoming popular.

    Have a look at what has been renting over the past four months for one and two bedroom apartments:
    Allston Village's Iconic "Twin Donuts"
    Allston - Median Rental Price - $2,000.  Median On Market Today - $2,000

    Uphams Corner - The Strand Theater
    North Dorchester - Median Rental Price - $1,700. Median On Market Today - $1,800

    While Allston is still more expensive than the North Dorchester Parishes, it is not by much. This is news to me. Maybe this is news to you too.

    All data from MLSPIN.
  • The Boston Flower Show - Selling Your Yard 1 Petal At A Time

    Posted Under: Curb Appeal in Boston, Remodel & Renovate in Boston, Design & Decor in Boston  |  February 25, 2014 8:53 AM  |  671 views  |  No comments
    The annual Boston Flower Show is just around the corner and you should go. If you think you might sell, a great yard is a big draw for spring market buyers. If you are not selling, the garden can be a great delight for the whole year to come. Get over to the show!

    Mayor Tom Menino with WCVB's Bianca de la Garza at the 2013 show
  • Sellers Raking It In While Inventory Slips

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Boston, Home Selling in Boston  |  February 21, 2014 9:40 AM  |  504 views  |  No comments
    There is little doubt amongst industry professionals that we are in a sellers' market. With the lousy weather, the spring market is getting a late start and the large mass of buyers are still on the sidelines. Over the past year, available homes on the market have been dwindling steadily while days on market shrink and prices rise. There is no reason to believe that when the spring buyers hit the Sunday open houses in a few weeks that prices will continue to rise and days on market will continue to fall. So why are sellers not lining up to sell?

    Boston Rules
    Right now, Boston is very popular. Retiring Baby-Boomers want in, businesses are transferring loads of employees here, and Millennials are tripping over themselves to get into the vibrant city squares. Transit seems to be important to most and those areas lucky enough to have a subway station are at or near 100% occupied with prices shooting ever higher (for sale and rent alike.) There is tremendous pressure on these locations and when units become available, they are quickly snatched up. People are willing to pay a higher price to be in these areas and are less willing to look into the suburbs where they might be dependent on their cars.

    Fewer Kids
    Millennials are not having kids anywhere near the rate of previous generations and there is wide debate as why. For the sake of this discussion, what really matters is that the kids just aren't coming. Same is true for the retiring Baby-Boomers. They don't have kids. This is a big deal because Boston's public schools are not something that folks look forward to. I have yet to hear a client tell me that they really want to be in Boston because of the schools. But, if you don't have kids then you just don't really care about the schools. These people are not likely to leave (due to the schools) anytime soon.

    Less Responsibility - Smaller Spaces
    Condo / Apartment living is much easier than running your own single family home. No water bill, no lawn moving, etc. This lighter load and the smaller spaces (as opposed to the big Weston Manse) are just easier. Easier to heat, easier to clean, easier to furnish, easier period.

    It used to be that people in their 20's and 30's would move to the burbs to have kids. No more. It used to be that people hitting retirement age would head to the Cape or Del Boca Vista. No more. Everybody is in the city. Those who own in the city are happy to retire in the city. Those who rent in the city long to buy in the city. There is a lot of pressure on the market for inventory.

    Where Are The Sellers?
    Short answer? Right where they have always been, right here. But why are they not selling??? I think I can break these sellers down into three camps:
    • 1) Investment Minded Owners
    • 2) Disinterested Owners
    • 3) Misinformed Owners

    Investment Minded
    These are people that really get a kick out of watching the value of their investment(s) rise. They bought the property some time ago at a certain price and they are seeing a healthy return on the investment as the value of the place goes up and up. They may not have use for the place any longer. In fact, they might not even live there anymore! The place might now be rented out or even just sitting vacant and used only from time to time. But this is a nest-egg. Why sell now while the market is on the rise? 

    You know plenty of people like this. The guy that really doesn't like or need the place any longer but is holding on. Why? Because I've always lived here and see no reason to move. Without a life-changing event, this person will never sell or even look around for something else to move into.

    "I would love to sell but I just can't find a place to move into." These are would-be sellers that want to sell but think that it just can't happen. Truth is, most of these folks think they own a place that is worth much less than it actually is. So many homeowners think that they lost so much value during the recession that it will take another decade for them to get that value back. Fact is, most places in the region currently hold a higher value than they did before the recession hit. For those who do know what their place is worth, they might not really be looking at the marketplace for a better fit for their lifestyle and just assume that they would not find a better place to go when they sell.

    Homeowners that sell this year will see returns, in most cases, that would exceed anything previously seen in the Boston Marketplace. How long this market will continue will depend on a great number of factors but it is clear to all in the industry that 2014's sales numbers should break all of the records for price. If you own and want to sell, lucky you.
  • What Will It Cost Me? - The North End & Waterfront

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Boston, Home Buying in Boston, Rent vs Buy in Boston  |  February 17, 2014 8:03 AM  |  595 views  |  No comments
    The North End is sometimes referred to as "Little Italy" or sometimes, "Little Itlay". Personally, I have never called it either but then I have never been so fortuanate to live in the neighborhood. This is a very European-feeling city neighborhood. Buildings are right on top of one another, streets as narrow as sidewalks, parking as valuable as gold and the feeling that the whole world is with you as you walk down its streets. To say that the food is good is an understatement. To say that you can walk to do all of your grocery shopping is an understatement. To say that folks have no preference between Mike's and Modern.... well, you know. The North End is really Boston's original waterfront location. The harbor surrounds the peninsula on two sides and the Charles River on the third. Since the Central Artery was buried and a wonderful park built in its place, this already popular neighborhood has exploded. Everybody wants to be there. Oh, and Modern is better.

    Two Bedroom Rentals Today
    Median Price $4,500

    Spectacular fully furnished 2 bedroom with "Wow" factor views of the Harbor and Historic North End from floor to ceiling windows in every room.Beautifully renovated open kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Great storage space and in unit washer/dryer. Large gut renovated marble bath with double vanity and walk in shower. Rental price also includes valet garage parking and use of fitness room. 24 hour concierge. Steps to the Harbor, North End restaurants and public transportation. A must see. Owner would consider renting unfurnished. - Betsy Neer. Coldwell Banker (617) 699-7154

    Two Bedroom Condos Today
    Median Price $1.1M (10% down, jumbo loan - 4.5% interest over 30 years = $5,000)
    Stunning Harbor views from this gracious two bedroom, 2.5 bath home in one of Boston's premier Waterfront buildings. Travertine tile entry foyer with renovated powder room off the foyer. Open kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Very large living/dining room with a wall of windows overlooking Boston Harbor and the outter harbor. Private patio off the living room with city views. French doors open into a large second bedroom or den from the living/dining room. Master bedroom with en suite bathroom. Large walk-in closet built into the bedroom. Second full bathroom beautifully renovated with large glass shower. Abundant closets throughout this home. Harbor Towers is a full service building with 24 hour conceirge, management office on the premises, `Oceanside heated pool for residents and their guests. Garage rental parking available. - Susan Graham & Karen Peters. Otis & Ahearn. (617) 721-5456

    ***All data taken today from MLSPIN. Prices do not include taxes or fees.
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