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Boston Real Estate Blog

John Ford Realty
137 Charles Street, Boston
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Breaking … Boston Herald building sold; redevelopment planned …

Details:

National Development, Purcell to redevelop Herald site – By Scott Van Voorhis, The Boston Herald

Boston Herald property sold – By Christopher Rowland, The Boston Globe

WHOA.

( ** Reports say that the Herald owns 6 acres of land – what’s unclear to me is what this includes. The Herald building, of course, but what about the parking lots – not just the one next door, but the one across Traveler street.)

Mortgage loan rates not rising for borrowers with excellent credit (i.e., not you)

I’m joking!

Interesting set of data released by Jack Guttentag, the self-proclaimed “Mortgage Professor” shows that mortgage loan rates for the best-rated borrowers haven’t gone up during the past three months.

For the typical borrower, however, rates have increased, and may be going higher.

Basically, he looked at rates in early May, and compared them to rates today (actually, as of August 3rd). (His data is not all-inclusive, but gives a general idea of what is going on.)

On “cream-puff” loans, interest rates rose by about .4 percent between May 4 and Aug. 3. On some programs it was a little more, on others a little less, but the dispersion was small.

(A cream-puff loan is one with a 20 percent down payment on a $500,000 single-family home purchased as a permanent residence, by a borrower with a credit score of 720 or more, who fully documents income and assets, and escrows taxes and insurance.)

However, those looking for loans who had lower credit scores were paying substantially more than they were, just three months’ ago.

On scores ranging down to 680, rates on Aug. 3 were about .4 percent higher, but at 660 the increase was .56 percent and at 620 it was 1.4 percent. Below 620, there were no quotes on either date, that’s subprime territory.

I also looked at rates on loans of different sizes on May 4: the sizes were $75,000, $417,000, $418,000 and $2 million. The two middle sizes distinguish loans that can and loans that cannot be purchased by the two federal agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The rate increases, starting with the $75,000 loans, were .41 percent, .45 percent, .74 percent and .8 percent.

Basically, no surprises. Those who are more at risk of defaulting will have to pay more, now.

But, Professor Mortgage says there is no sign of a “mortgage meltdown”. Those who want to borrow, still can.

More: Is mortgage market veering toward meltdown? – By Jack Guttentag, Inman News

Globe comes out against new rent control plan … and suggests something worse

Eh, what can you do?

So, Sam Yoon, reckless young city councilor, has proposed a new plan to encourage landlords to negotiate rents with their tenants. Encourage, by which I mean “force”, since if a landlord chooses NOT to meet with their tenants, a letter will be entered into a file (permanently) at City Hall, which would be used against them, should they ever need assistance from the city, at any time in the future.

It’s a terrible idea.

Fortunately, it appears to be going down for the count (the Boston City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan, tomorrow).

The Globe came out against the plan, today.

Instead, they suggest another rent control proposal, this one even worse than what Yoon wants.

Boston could have benefited from a reasonable rent stabilization bylaw like the one proposed in 2004. It would have allowed low-income and elderly tenants only to appeal annual rent increases above 5 percent. The proposal thoughtfully exempted all construction from 2002 forward to encourage new supply. It got shot down by the City Council. But it stood for something tangible.

There are still ways to help needy tenants or expand the number of affordable apartments in Boston without adopting rent controls. Barry Bluestone, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, recommends a housing voucher finance system similar to the one in Illinois, where officials assess a $20 fee on most real estate transactions. Bluestone estimates that the state could set aside more than $10 million annually for such a trust fund. Another solution might be for Bostonians to subsidize the construction of more inexpensive housing by adopting a small surcharge on property taxes through passage of the Community Preservation Act.

“Bostonians could subsidize the construction of more inexpensive housing by adopting a small surcharge on property taxes …”

???!!!!!

In an indirect way, anyone who buys a condo in Boston, today, already subsidizes the construction of inexpensive housing. There is a 13% affordable housing clause in most residential construction which forces developers to offer condos in their developments at below-market rates (way below-market rates). This does nothing but increase the cost of housing for the “rest of us”.

Has this “affordable-housing” plan done anything to mitigate the high cost of housing within the city?

No. Nothing.

I don’t support the Globe’s proposal to limit rent increases to 5% for low-income and the elderly – no one’s proven to me that it’s a requirement. (The Globe says we need rent control to make rental housing more affordable to middle-class residents, but then says we need to create rent control for the low-income and elderly … who’s left???)

On the other hand, assessing a small fee on each real estate transaction has at least some merit, in my opinion. I don’t like the idea of having it assessed and collected by the state, however; I don’t think we’d end up seeing any effect in Boston – certainly, collecting $10 million across the entire state isn’t going to be enough to build a new mid-cost apartment complex in Boston.

The trouble with ideas such as the Globe’s (and Yoon’s) is that they are proposed by people without the knowledge and experience necessary to make the plans reasonable and logical.

Eh, what can you do?

More: Room for rent improvement – The Boston Globe

Did many people respond to my survey?

So, one of the blogger panelists here at the conference said it was a good idea to post your blog entries in the form of a question. It helps with the search engines.

Anyway, just a quick update. Over forty people responded to my survey. Thank you so much.

It seems as though people are happy and find lots of useful information on this site.

The over-achiever in me was disappointed with the grading (I’d say it averaged out to around a B or B+) but I’ll try to not hold a grudge.

Have you checked out Going.com?

I just heard about this website called “Going.com”.

It’s a social networking site … oh, god, another one?

Anyway, moving on, here’s their deal:

Going helps you find fun things to do and fun people to meet.

* Ever wish there’s one place where you can find all the events around town?
* Want to know whether an event is worth going to and see who else is interested?
* Looking to meet some new people who are up for doing fun things?

We felt the same frustration and decided to do something about it. The result is Going: we now have hundreds of events a day and thousands of people who are up for doing fun things.

How it works

* Find something fun you’d like to do. We have tons of ways to help you do that, such as by popularity (how many others are interested), by time, by distance, or using our Editors’ Picks.

* See who else wants to go. Don’t be shy; people are meeting up to go do stuff all the time. Feel free to post a message for the event to see who else’s up for meeting up.

* Find fun people who share your interests. Look up groups that sound interesting and say hi. See who’s similar in interests, then post a comment or send them a friend request. Most people are pretty friendly.

* Come to a Going party. We have parties every month for people on the Web site. It’s a great way to make a lot of friends in a jiffy. Hope to see you at the next one!

They’re active in four cities, including Boston, and are planning on growing quickly, over the coming months.

I don’t know. Sort of a good idea. But, of limited use, right?

I always figure, if you like doing something (snowboarding, seeing James Blunt (ick), etc.)you’ll already know when events are taking place. Like you need strangers to keep you informed?

More: Going.com

Mildly interesting website – Walk Score

Eh, you could find worse things to do with the next five minutes than to try out this website:

Walk Score

How It Works

Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc.

What does my score mean?

Your Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100.

The walkability of an address depends on how far you are comfortable walking—after all, everything is within walking distance if you have the time. Here are general guidelines for interpreting your score:

* 90 – 100 = Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.

* 70 – 90 = Very Walkable: It’s possible to get by without owning a car.

* 50 – 70 = Some Walkable Locations: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a car.

* 25 – 50 = Not Walkable: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving is a must.

* 0 – 25 = Driving Only: Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

How it Works

Walk Scoreâ„¢ uses a patent-pending algorithm to calculate the walkability of an address based on:

* The distance to walkable locations near an address.
* Calculating a score for each of these locations.
* Combining these scores into one easy to read Walk Score.

Fun with numbers

Okay, here’s a fun exercise for you and your kids.

Take out a blank piece of paper.

Now, I want you to draw a clock. Add arms to the clock showing the time, 1:45.

Done?

Now go here to learn whether or not you’re senile.

Very simple exercise. Very interesting exercise. Very disturbing exercise.

Have a nice weekend! If you can …

More: Dementia – Wikipedia.org

It’s quicker to walk there, I think

Here’s part of the subway map from the MBTA website:

mbta

Hilarious.

How many tourists take a look at this map and take a train to Hynes/ICA, only to be told the ICA is now about 2.4 miles away.

Source: MBTA.com

Chemistry.com is awesome!

I’m surprised no one has clicked through on the advertisement for my new sponsor – Chemistry.com – an “online-dating” company (see the ad half-way down in the right-hand column).

Don’t any of you want to meet the love of your life???

What’s the deal with Chemistry.com?

About Chemistry

Chemistry is a new site from the team at Match.com, designed especially for people who are actively seeking meaningful, long-term relationships.

What’s different about Chemistry?

It’s our belief that meaningful relationships are built on two equally important foundations: compatibility and chemistry. Other sites may help you find out if you’re compatible, but only Chemistry’s next-generation system, based on years of research into human attraction and successful relationships, is designed to help you find both of these essential elements.

Other differences you’ll notice about Chemistry:

* We give you the tools that make it easier to get face-to-face with the people you want to meet.
* Our Chemistry Profile is a fast, engaging, and in-depth look at who you are and what you want in a long-term relationship.
* Get to know your matches through our step-by-step introduction process where you select the questions and control the pace. What’s more, you can discontinue communications with any match at any time for any reason.
* From the moment you first sign in to Chemistry, our advanced matching system begins learning about your preferences and adjusts the matching criteria to better meet your needs.
* To enhance your privacy, only your fellow paying Chemistry members are able to initiate contact with you. Plus, your photo is revealed only when you’re comfortable doing so.

Check them out. At least sign-up for a free account so you can search around their site.

Who knows, maybe you’re life is about to take a huge turn for the better!