Boston Real Estate Blog

John Ford Realty
137 Charles Street, Boston
[email protected]
151 Tremont Street

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New real estate investors (in Boston) are real young

Link: Boston Condos – Dude, where’s my rent?

More under-25s are breaking into real estate as landlords, sometimes relying on gumption alone to make a go of it

By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff | March 27, 2005

Sean Flynn, 21, waits for a friend to drive him home from one of his South Boston condos. Flynn doesn’t own a car.

When Sean Flynn isn’t busy serving drinks at Hennessey’s bar in Faneuil Hall, the 21-year-old is watching over his two condominiums in South Boston.

Flynn, who lives with his mother in Arlington, still hasn’t graduated from college. But he doesn’t tell
that to his tenants.

”I just try to look serious and pretend that I’m older,” said Flynn, who made the down payment on the first condo with $30,000 he painstakingly saved from bartending, stocking shelves at a liquor store — and not having a cellphone or car.

”It’s risky as hell what I’m doing,” he said. ”I don’t have much to fall back on if it fails.”

Lynn is nice

Boston Real estate and Lynn Real Estate

All about Lynn.

There’s a lot going on in Lynn. If you’re not from Massachusetts, you might not have ever heard of Lynn. It used to be quite a popular city, I think mostly manufacturing and mill work. General Electric was big there, and still is, to a certain extent. The downtown, however, is like “no-man’s land”. Just barren, empty of people. Not unsafe, necessarily, more like someone came in and stole all the people away.

The buildings in the Central Square area are mostly from the 1890s, etc., and seem to be in good shape.

A couple of years ago, developers started getting interested in the downtown area, seeing it as ripe for a revival. The downtown is right next to (and I mean, right next to) a commuter rail station that goes to North Station, in downtown Boston, in about 17 minutes, so it’s a great location for commuters/residents. Plus, it’s an easy commute by car, down 1A, right through the new $15 billion Big Dig / Ted Williams Tunnel.

I grew up in Topsfield, near Lynn, and my parents were from Peabody, right next to Lynn. They didn’t have a very positive opinion of Lynn, having seen the area fall into disrepair over the years. I didn’t have a very positive opinion, because everytime I went through there all I saw was huge parking garages, and nothing else.

But, I visited up there a couple years ago, and could see that something was about to happen. And, now, it has, to a certain extent.

There are at least a half-dozen projects going on where developers have bought old buildings and are breaking them up into condominiums. They call them “lofts” but in most cases they are just regular apartment-styled homes. A couple have exposed brick and beam, but the majority have been completely fitted out (one agent told me the city requires all brick to be covered over, which is too bad, aesthetically).

Price per square foot up there is maybe $250 – $280, whereas South Boston is about $450, the South End is $500 – $600, and Back Bay is probably around $700. So, you get a lot more for your money.

Quality of life leaves a bit to be desired. Because so few people live in the downtown, there’s no nightlife. The taco place closes at 9:00 PM; beyond that, I haven’t seen any type of retail. You can walk to a Shaws supermarket, if that counts (and it doesn’t).

However, a high-end steakhouse is going in on Oxford Street (which seems a little weird), and each of the new developments has retail / commercial space on the first floor, which means there is the potential for new businesses to move in. Oh, and there’s this great Vietnamese restaurant on Monroe. Plus a little cafe is going in on the first floor of the Keith building (no relation) in Central Square.

So, things are happening in Lynn.

Trading Places: Real Estate Instead of Dot-Coms

Real estate and condo news

People thought they’d make some money investing or working at Internet start-ups. Now they think they’ll make some money from investing or working in real estate. We’ll see.

From the New York Times:

The New York Times | Business | Trading Places: Real Estate Instead of Dot-Coms


Real estate-crazed Americans have started behaving in ways that eerily recall the stock market obsession of the late 1990’s.


In Naples, Fla., some houses have been bought twice in a single day, an early-21st-century version of day trading. Buying stocks on margin has morphed into buying homes with no money down. The over-the-top parties of Internet start-ups have been replaced by flashy gatherings where developers pitch condos to eager buyers.

Five years ago, the cable channel CNBC sometimes seemed like a backdrop to daily American life. Its cheery analysis of the stock market played in offices, in barbershops, even in some bars. Today, “Dude Room,” “Toolbelt Diva” and other home-improvement shows are the addictive fare that CNBC’s exuberant stock shows once were.

“It just seems like everyone is doing it,” Laurie Romano, a 26-year-old self-described real estate investor, said with a giggle as she explained why she was attending an open house this month for the Nexus, a 56-unit building going up in Brooklyn’s chic Dumbo neighborhood. She and her fiance, a dentist, had already put down a deposit on a Manhattan condo earlier in the week and had come to look at another at the Nexus.

How Boston is better (or worse)

Scene outside the London Underground, a couple of hours ago.

london underground alcohol drinking

Okay, I’m not passing judgment, but for how long was it legal to drink on the subway, anyway?

Good news, we have two days to totally enjoy ourselves!

Economist sees lower prices in the future

“What you are seeing are signs of a market peak at the high end,” said Robert Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University. “First there’s a rise in inventory, and then prices fall.”

No prediction on how far prices will fall from this widely respected economist, professor, and writer.

This I know for sure, you should listen to what this guy says. He’s saying that prices will fall. Implied in that, don’t buy.

High-end home sales slowing in wealthy towns

Or, so says Scott Van Voorhis, in a column out today.

These are tougher times in the real estate market, even for the super-wealthy.

The number of mansions sold in some of the state’s toniest towns – Weston, Wellesley and Brookline – has plunged more than 30 percent during the first four months of the year.

And sellers of luxury homes are having to bargain in order to cut a deal.

The Herald scribe then talks about John Meola, a dentist in Weston, who had to cut the price of his home from $18 million to $10.9 million in order to find a buyer.

This is at least the third story Mr Van Voorhis has done about this guy, in just two years!!

I think it’s really bizarre! Are you looking for a deal on your next gold cap, Scott?

Source: Toney town’s mansion sales tank – By Scott Van Voorhis, The Boston Herald

Just in time for the coming apocalypse: family buys $2 billion home

The world’s largest and most expensive home will be completed in January.

The 27-story skyscraper in downtown Mumbai, India, will be the residence of Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita. Ambani, head of Mumbai-based petrochemical company Reliance Industries, is the fifth richest man in the world …

… The home will have 400,000 square feet of interior space, nine elevators, a ballroom and a section for security guards and assistants to relax.

There will also be an ice room where residents and guests can escape the Mumbai heat and be dusted by man-made snow flurries.

Dude, for $100,000, I’ll bring you Boston-made snow in a paper bag and sprinkle it on you, whenever you want.

Source: The First $2-billion Home is Coming – By Matt Woolsey, Forbes, by way of

State of the national housing market: not so good

The Wall Street Journal runs some numbers to determine where there are signs of strength and weakness in the national housing market.

The paper analyzed data in 28 major metropolitan areas to determine “overall strength”, based on months of available supply of homes listed for sale, change in inventory since last year, average price change during that time, employment outlook over the next two years, and percentage of loans overdue.

The Boston metropolitan area?

Overall? We get a “moderate”.

Change in housing inventory, past 12 months? Down 10.9% (they include single family, condos, and townhouses in total)

Months supply: 6.7

Price change: -8.5%

Loan payments overdue: 3.6%

Employment outlook: Very weak

VERY WEAK??? Like I don’t have enough to worry about?

The loan payments overdue is an encouraging sign, though. We’ve got the sixth lowest overall, out of 28 MSAs. And, we’ve had the biggest drop in inventory out of all 28 areas.

For price changes, we’re right in the middle at #14, meaning we’re doing better than half because prices have dropped more (meaning, housing has become more affordable) or we’re doing worse than half because prices hae dropped more (meaning, owners are losing their shirts).

Source: Where Housing Is Headed – By James R Hagerty, The Wall Street Journal

Living in the suburbs would drive me insane

Last week, the Globe’s real estate blog had an entry about the “value” of living in the city versus the suburbs.

It’s something I often think about.

Could you pay me enough to live in the suburbs?

Well, first off, for a lot of people, the reverse is an even better question – could you ever pay them enough to live in the city?

What are the true “costs” of living in one over the other?

According to the Globe:

The cost of driving keeps accelerating. The Brookings Institution believes those costs should change the way we think about housing affordability. The traditional measure is that a family can afford to spend about 30 percent of its income on housing. Brookings argues that families instead should spend no more than 48 percent of income on housing and transportation combined.

The point is that some urban neighborhoods are more affordable than they seem, because it costs less to get around, while some suburban areas seem more affordable than they are: Cheap homes, expensive commutes.

There are the direct costs. For myself, I don’t own a car (I know, right?). So, the savings are probably $250-$350 for a lease, plus $200 per month in insurance. (I’d have to have a really nice car, being a real estate agent, and my insurance might be more, since I keep hitting pedestrians or their dogs whenever I drive.)

But, most people who live in the city own a car. And, they pay for parking, either renting a space or as part of their condo purchase. Figure $200 – $300 per month, in Boston Proper.

Meaning, more expensive than if you own in the ‘burbs.

I, myself, use ZipCar, which costs me around $100 – $200 per month. (My favorite is a yellow Mini Cooper.) Cars right across the street at around $8 per hour, inclusive of gas and insurance.

But, there’s more benefits to living in one place over the other than owning a car, of course.

The biggest expense to me would be the cost of sitting in traffic. The amount of time and aggravation it would take would drive me absolutely insane. Insane. Like, Michael Douglas in that movie when he snaps. You know what I mean, you put up with it anytime you’re on the Southeast Expressway at rush hour.

Anyway, there’s no way for me to quantify that cost. My guess is it’s somewhere around the cost of having a guy pick me up in a black car, each day. Say, $3,000 per month?

If each $100,000 in home loan will cost you around $650 a month, then that cost is an additional $450,000 on your purchase price.

Meaning, the equivalent home in the city is worth $450,000 more than one in the country, because you don’t have to put up with traffic, each day.

So, if you spent $500,000 on a single-family home in a nice suburb, you’d be willing to spend $950,000 in the city, so that you wouldn’t have to drive.

Of course, for $500,000 in a nice suburb, you could get a 1,800-2,400 square foot home with a yard and driveway, whereas for $950,000 in the city you’d get 1,200 square feet in a cramped two-bed condo with uneven floors and the distant sounds of police sirens.

Meaning, there’s no real way to measure the difference.

That’s when I lost interest. But, maybe it’s fun to think about for a couple minutes while you’re at work today.

Source: The Cost of Commuting – By Binyamin Appelbaum, The Boston Globe

Please help Community Servings

hottiesNext Monday, I am running the Boston Marathon, on behalf of Community Servings.

Community Servings does an amazing job, feeding over 700 men and women with critical illnesses. They do work that no one else does.

I am hoping to raise $5,000 for Community Servings.

If there is any way you can help by making a donation, I would greatly appreciate it. Community Servings provides a very important service to those in need.

Here’s a little bit about them:

Community Servings is dedicated to providing free home-delivered meals throughout eastern Massachusetts to people homebound with HIV/AIDS and other acute life-threatening illnesses, who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. We provide our clients, their dependent families, and caregivers appealing, nutritious meals, reaching out to those in greatest need. Our goals are to help our clients maintain their health and dignity, provide nutritionally and culturally appropriate meals, preserve the integrity of their family, and send the message that someone cares.

Community Servings’ daily meals are critical to the health and well being of men, women, and children living with an acute life-threatening illness. We design our meals to meet the complex dietary requirements of people coping with a devastating illness who are unable to cook for themselves. Most of our clients are also struggling economically and can’t afford to maintain proper and balanced nutrition. Community Servings offers free, well-planned, nutritionally appropriate meals delivered directly to their home.

I have committed my time and money to making the run a success, but I can’t reach my goal without help from readers.

Thank you very much for your support.

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