the
Boston Real Estate Blog

John Ford Realty
137 Charles Street, Boston
realtyford@yahoo.com
617-595-3712
617-720-5454
151 Tremont Street
617-482-0010

Random notes, 6/9/2008

Couple things.

* Heard a rumor that 45 Province ‘topped off’ today; that’s why you see a US flag on it;
* Traffic on my site jumped by 20% today – a late, late Spring market, perhaps;
* According to the New York Times, for the first time in recorded history, more people will live in urban areas vs. rural areas, by the end of 2008;
* My current logo is a green carnation, not a head of lettuce.

New site provides visitors with demographic and housing information, and more

I found a great new site that includes loads of demographic information from across the United States. You can narrow your search by county and city, and more, by neighborhood, etc.

I tried it out for the South End. It gave some good and useful information, although it appears to be a work in progress. Some of the data was from 2000, which is of limited use, here in 2008.

It looks as if they are collecting most of the information from the US Census bureau, etc. You could certainly do a lot of this research yourself, but it’s easier to have on one site, so check it out.

More: PolicyMap

Breaking: Starbucks is awesome!

I love corporate coffee!

Starbucks just got even more betterer, in my opinion.

If you use your Starbucks card, your coffee refills are free.

FREE!, I said.

I’m not sure what they mean by, “free beverage with whole bean purchase”, though. Does this mean no free cup of coffee when you buy a pound?

I don’t care!

Short sales in MLSPIN

FYI, of the over 41,000 single-family homes and condominiums listed for sale in our local MLS, 908 have the words “short sale” listed in the description.

Isn’t necessarily the most accurate piece of information, but interesting, nonetheless.

Boston Courant begins publishing Sunday Open House listings

Starting today, the Boston Courant has begun listing all Sunday Open House listings in its weekly edition.

The data is collected from the Multiple Listing Service Information Network, Inc. (MLSPIN) which is one of two listing services used by most Boston agents. The other service, the Listing Information Network, Inc. (LINK), partners with Community Newspapers to publish the long-running Boston Homes newspaper. Both come out on Saturdays, both are free, and both are delivered door-to-door in the major “Boston Proper” neighborhoods. Also, available on newsstands.

Kevin J Smith, longtime publisher of Boston Homes is now publisher of the Boston Courant open houses newspaper (which does not have a name, apparently).

In the old days, LINK was pretty much the only place where real estate agents listed their clients’ properties, and the only place where open house information was entered. Most agents now enter their listings into both networks. However, agents are not as complete when it comes to open house information. But, now that the Courant is including open house information, it may prompt more agents to put their open house information into both.

Hmmm. I wonder if any other weekly newspapers are considering publishing open house information from MLSPIN …

(Now, if we could only get the Boston Courant to publish its content online.)

Boston Real Estate Forum gives readers a chance to learn about the local real estate market

The guys over at Spotlight Real Estate have started a new website, the Boston Real Estate Forum.

Where you take part in discussions and take advantage of the many opportunities that the Boston real estate market presents.

Staying true to the needs of it’s consumers, the Boston Real Estate Forum promises to be a fully interactive, user-friendly community benefiting all who use it. Who will benefit from the Boston Real Estate Forum? Everyone. Buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, builders, individuals in the mortgage and finance industry, carpenters and craftsman, the service industry, you name it. If you are a real estate professional, then the Boston Real Estate Forum is for you.

Whether you are a local Realtor looking for an edge, or an out of state agent looking for a referral, you find it all in the Boston Real Estate Forum. Own your own business? Looking for work? Visit our classified section and get your name out there. Boston Real Estate Forum encourages everyone to stop in for a visit. Register, introduce yourself, and we’ll see you on the inside.

The online real estate world has exploded in Boston, over the past eighteen months. When I started my blog in 2005, it was basically just me. Which was great for Google rankings, and for business, too. Eventually, the market became flooded with new and useful sites – agent-run sites, as well as a couple of media sites and corporate sites.

Each site has its own style, each writer has his / her own perspective. And, of course, the reader benefits greatly, by having all this information available.

Starbucks to lower cost of Wi-Fi service; blogger angry

Pretty much, if you go into any Starbucks in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, or South End, you’ll find just about every seat taken by a college student reading a book or using a laptop. Actually, no, you’ll find half the seats taken by college students; the others are taken by their books, coats, and feet (more often than not, bare).

About 50% of the time, a Starbucks cup or evidence of food cannot be found. Twenty percent of the time (rough estimate) you’ll see a Dunkin’ Donuts cup or bottled water brought in from 7-Eleven.

Well, Starbucks has only itself to blame. I’ve never seen any customer asked to leave or anything like that.

In fact, Starbucks encourages people to lounge around. Just make sure you’re not caught napping. Otherwise, free reign.

There’s no way this pays off – I don’t think it increases sales. In fact, I think it reduces sales – plenty of times, people walk in off the street, see that no seats are available, then walk out. (Fortunately, there are 45 other Starbucks within walking distance …).

Well, it will only get worse, because now Starbucks is going to offer you free Wi-Fi to go along with your two-hour stay …

From the Times:

Starbucks announced today it will give most any customer two consecutive hours a day of free Wi-Fi access. Specifically, that offer applies to anyone who uses its prepaid Starbucks Card at least once a month. That represents as many as 60 hours of access for the price of one $2 cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is moving from using T-Mobile as its service provider to AT&T. Customers will benefit from lower prices.

Even for paying customers, the price of using the service has gone down. AT&T will provide two hours of wireless access at Starbucks for $3.99, and an unlimited access plan from AT&T is $20 a month.

All I can figure is this is an insidious plot to bankrupt the company.

By whom, I do not know.

Source: Cheaper Wi-Fi Access at Starbucks and Beyond – By Saul Hansell, The New York Times

What is a recession?

Something worth repeating, seeing as it’s the hot topic, these days.

Simple concept, really.

From Wikipedia (which you can trust, implicitly, right?)

Recession:

A recession is a decline in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year. (** A more complete definition, at bottom.)

So, we may not technically be “in” a recession, or heading toward one (I don’t think we are, btw), but that doesn’t mean things aren’t great, overall.

** In the United States, GDP is officially tracked by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. An alternative, less accepted definition of recession is a downward trend in the rate of actual GDP growth as promoted by the business-cycle dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research.[1] That private organization defines a recession more ambiguously as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”

A recession may involve simultaneous declines in coincident measures of overall economic activity such as employment, investment, and corporate profits. Recessions may be associated with falling prices (deflation), or, alternatively, sharply rising prices (inflation) in a process known as stagflation. A severe or long recession is referred to as an economic depression. A devastating breakdown of an economy (essentially, a severe depression, or a hyperinflation, depending on the circumstances) is called economic collapse.

Newspaper columnist Sidney J. Harris distinguished terms this way: “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job.”

Market-oriented economies are characterized by economic cycles, but actual recessions (declines in economic activity) do not always result. There is much debate, sometimes ideologically motivated, as to whether government intervention smoothes the cycle (see Keynesianism), exaggerates it (see Real business cycle theory), or even creates it (see monetarism).

Not about real estate (also, not about lithium batteries)

Every night, I stop to pick up a couple of cookies at Francesca’s, a coffee-shop / cafe, here in the South End.

Tonight, I placed my order with one of the regular servers. “Three chocolate-chip cookies, please.”

Another server walked over.

“Did you know that if you buy six, there’s no sales tax?”

?!!

“Huh?!!”

“There’s no sales tax, if you order six.”

“Why is that, you are having a special?”

“No, it’s always like that.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know … something to do with it being a packaged meal, or something …”

I told him I couldn’t possible order six cookies, because it would throw off my schedule, and because I’d undoubtedly eat more than three, in one serving, and that basically he should stop trying to up-sell me, and walked out.

But, anyway … is that true?