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Finally, more homes and condos are coming to market in Massachusetts

UPDATE — The Warren Group is reporting the same approximate trends: sales down, prices up, the Pope is Catholic, etc. … Now back to the original post. …

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports today that home sales were down again last month while prices continued to spike, but there was some good news for potential home buyers: The number of homes listed for sale on the market did rise in March.

That’s good news, though not spectacular news, considering the increase in new listings wasn’t all that large. Still, we’ll take it.

From MAR:

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported today that while a general shortage of homes for sale pushed sales down and prices up in March, the spring market is starting to come to life. For the second straight month homeowners have added more homes to the market than the same time last year. Condominium sales and prices were both up in March.

“While the market still needs more homes for sale – including both existing homes and new construction- the increase in new listings in March is a good sign,” said 2014 MAR President Peter Ruffini, regional vice president at Jack Conway & Co., in Norwell. “With home values on an upward trend, it gives homeowners the opportunity and incentive to take advantage of the current buyer demand and list their homes for sale.”

There were 2,698 detached single-family homes sold this March, which was down 11.5 percent from the 3,048 homes sold the same time last year. On a month-to-month basis, home sales were up 27.2 percent from 2,084 homes sold this past February. A significant increase in home sales from February-to-March is typical.

The median selling price for single-family home in March was $314,063 which was up 8.3 percent from $290,000 in March 2013. This is the 18th straight monthly year-over-year increase. On a month-to-month basis, the March median selling price was up 6.5 percent from $294,950 in February.

File under: Hey, smile a little

P.S. — Did you know, or do you remember, that there was once a push to put smiley faces on Massachusetts license plates? True.

Read other posts about: Massachusetts real estate

Owner of Beacon Street home are suing the welder for starting deadly fire

The estate of the Beacon Street brownstone where two firefighters died fighting a blaze are suing the welding company that was doing work nearby on another home.

The estate is also suing the owners of the adjacent property where the welding work was being done. The suit alleges the welding work was not permitted by the city.

Sparks from the welding have been identified as the possible cause of the terrible fire.

Read other posts about: Boston real estate condos news

Downtown condo prices now averaging near $1 million each

The first two sentences say it all:

The price of living in the heart of Boston is fast approaching an average of $1 million, as condominium sales sizzle and values surge.

Condominium sales in downtown Boston and surrounding sections — including Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, and the South End — jumped more than 17 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the same time last year, according to LINK, a company that tracks sales in a dozen central city neighborhoods.

Read other posts about: Boston condo prices, Boston Real Estate

The BRA approves new Boston Food Market

From the Globe: “Plans for the year-round market along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway were approved Thursday night by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project, expected to cost $14 million, will include up to 45 vendors as well as a bakery, seafood raw bar, and demonstration kitchen staffed by local chefs.”

No mention, though, when it might open. We presume next year.

Read other posts about: Boston life

Realtors express ‘caution but optimism’ about housing market

From the Fed’s latest Beige Book report, with our bold emphasis added:

Realtors in the First District express caution but optimism about the mixed sales results that continued in the region in February. Year-over-year sales of single family homes decreased in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and increased in Maine and Vermont. (Contacts in New Hampshire were unavailable for comment in this round.) In the condominium market, sales increased relative to last year in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, while decreasing in Rhode Island; condo sales information is not reported in Maine. The consensus across the First District is that the decline in sales will be short lived; respondents say it was partially driven by the tough winter, as well as uncertainty about new federal flood insurance rules. Signs of spring weather and new legislation limiting flood insurance premium increases are lessening these concerns. In Massachusetts, however, inventory shortages are said to be the key reason for the decline in sales. One Massachusetts contact stated “there is just not enough supply to meet demand.” As a result, Massachusetts contacts say multiple bids are common and the median sales price for single family homes has increased compared to the year-earlier median in 17 consecutive months. Median sales prices also increased year-over-year in Connecticut and Maine, but declined in Vermont and Rhode Island. Residential real estate contacts say they expect sales to pick up seasonally this spring, but foresee no significant market shifts.

Read other posts about: Massachusetts real estate

Harvard: Home remodeling will stay strong, but then weaken later this year

Housing scholars at Harvard have good news and so-so news.

The good news: Home remodeling should remain strong through most of the year but …

Sluggishness in the housing market and specifically in home sales may result in a deceleration of home improvement spending from double-digit annual growth through the third quarter to a year-over-year gain in the high single digits by the end of the year.

It’s not clear why sales will get more sluggish than they already are, at least in Massachusetts. One suspects the usual culprit is at work again: Lack of inventory. The fewer homes for sale, the fewer homes that need remodeling before or after a sale.

Read other posts about: General real estate stories

Modern 3-D and modular housing wonders

Boy, the 3-D and modular housing concepts are getting a lot of attention these days.

With the recent push for more “micro” apartments in Boston and elsewhere, we suspect we see a trend.

Do you think it has something to do with how hard it is to find affordable housing almost anywhere these days?

Photo above, of a 3-D “printed” home, via BI.

Read other posts about: General Housing News

Middle-class getting squeezed everywhere by rising rents

It’s not just Boston. It’s everywhere across the nation.

File under: Costa Rica, here we come … Or maybe Fayetteville, Ark.

Read other posts about: General Housing News

Yes, we’re in a housing market ‘bubble’ in Boston

It’s probably official now: So-called “escalation clauses” are back in the Boston area, last seen here about 10 years ago during the run-up to the previous peak prices around 2005.

What are “escalation clauses”? They’re a little-used negotiating tactic deployed as a sort of last resort during multiple-bid situations, i.e. in a hot housing market with regular bidding wars.

They’re rather simple. A seller asks for bids. Everyone else puts down a firm price offer. But one person (or couple) puts in writing that he or she will beat any of those bids by a set amount, say, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000 or even $15,000.

The person issuing the “escalation clause” almost aways reserves the right to see the other bids (with names crossed out) and the opportunity to back out, within about 30 to 60 minutes, if the highest bid is ridiculously high. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t.

There’s some debate whether they’re worth it. But there’s little doubt about this: Their apparently growing re-emergence in the Boston market, after 10 years of relative hibernation, is a sign that we’re probably approaching peak pricing levels in some sub-sectors of the market.

But, hey, who knows? This is Boston. The market here is so unpredictable and crazy these days.

Read other posts about: Boston Real Estate, Massachusetts real estate

A look at the old Locke-Ober’s new Winter Place Residences

The owner of the old Locke-Ober’s restaurant complex in Downtown Crossing is touting the six new condos that range in price from $1.75 million to $3.3 million.

Here’s the floor plan of the $1.75 million unit and the floor plan for the penthouse unit.

Fyi: Jim Robertson, a partner at Origen Ventures, the developer, is hoping to sign up a new restaurant tenant next month, under the condition a new eatery respects the décor of the old Locke-Obers. Stay tuned.

Read other posts about: Downtown Crossing

Let's talk Boston real estate. The most recent real estate comments

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