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Homes selling faster

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 18, 2014 11:14 AM

As the spring market kicks in, homes and condos across Greater Boston are selling faster than last year, new stats show.

The time on market for homes and condos in the Boston area stood at just under two months, or 55 days, Realtor.com reports.

That's 8 percent faster than last year, when it was up around 60. In fact, few metro markets are seeing sales happen at that pace right now in what nationally is turning out to be somewhat of a sluggish start to the spring market.

So who's faster right now?

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Send comments to me

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 18, 2014 07:11 AM

The comments section is temporarily down. In the meantime, let's do things the old fashioned way. Send you comments to me at sbvanvoorhis@hotmail.com.

I will put up a blog post on Monday or Tuesday featuring responses to various posts. I am sure more than a few of you have thoughts on "Cocky sellers may have a case"and "Build first, ask permission later?

Email away!



Get rich flipping schemes are back

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 17, 2014 09:05 AM

For a moment I thought I was back in 2005, when everyone thought they were going to get filthy rich on real estate. We all know how that turned out.

But all that speculative mania seems to be making a comeback, if this email pitch for a seminar next month at a Dedham hotel on how to flip your way into a fortune is any indicator.

Attract dozens of desperate, motivated sellers so you can cherry pick the hottest deals.
Uncover hidden bargain deals on the Internet at record breaking speed. Buy properties below 65 cents on the dollar and then sell them within 1 hour.

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Build first, ask permission later?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 16, 2014 09:33 AM

It's best not to get on the bad side of your local building inspector, as one Newton homeowner is finding out.

Albert Pinkhasov plunged ahead and built a $240,000 retaining wall in the backyard of his house in Newton's Oak Hill section section, claiming he didn't realize he needed a permit, the Globe West reports.

Or course, only in Newton, where the median home price is $841,900, would anyone spend $240,000 on a retaining wall. (Numbers from The Warren Group.)

That's enough to buy you a whole house in Attleboro - median price just over $230,000 - but that's a subject for another day.

Back to the unfortunate Pinkhasov, who bought an older house on Lovett Road in 2012 in Newton, tore it down, and built something more to his liking.

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Cocky sellers have a case

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 15, 2014 09:39 AM

Sellers could be getting ahead of themselves, this Wall Street Journal blog post suggests.

Nationally, asking prices for homes and condos have just hit a five-year high, even as the number of homes for hitting the market increases, the post notes.

So another case of greedy, out-of-touch sellers pushing crazy prices?

Well at least in the Boston area, probably not.

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Ready to top all bids?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 14, 2014 02:11 PM

Enough of the debate over whether bidding wars are for real.

I know, I know, there is surely a case or two out there where some rogue agent is using phony bids to drive up the price of a house.

But the bidding wars, by and large, are here. And not only are they here, they are getting increasingly out of control.

This Globe piece by Jay Fitzgerald finds that a bubble-years phenomenon - the "escalation clause" - is making a comeback as home and condo prices go nuts.

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A suburban comeback?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 11, 2014 09:02 AM

Many people were writing off the suburbs after the real estate bubble imploded.

Outer suburbs - think 495 and beyond - were seen as having a particularly grim, foreclosure-ridden future, with predictions of squalor for the so-called "fringe suburbs."

Of course, a lot of that doomsday talk looks like claptrap now -  Boston's inner suburbs are seeing home prices go to crazy levels while sales and prices are also rebounding out in 495 as well.

Now it looks like home buyers and families are increasingly setting up shop in the suburbs as well, a new survey by Trulia finds.

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The rise of the armchair seller

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 10, 2014 09:25 AM

Homeowners are feeling rosier by the day about the real estate market and their own personal finances, a new nationwide survey finds.

In fact, 38 percent of those polled say that it is now a good time to sell, up from 26 percent in March of 2013, Fannie Mae reports.

Interesting, right?

OK, it's hardly a landslide, but it's a big improvement from where we've been.

Yet if homeowners are truly more bullish about the real estate market right now, why aren't more of them actually putting their homes on the market?

After all, prices have bounced back and then some, especially in the wealthier towns and neighborhoods of Greater Boston.

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Ready to move in together?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 9, 2014 05:01 PM

Sure, it's tempting to move in with your honey in a pricey rental market like Greater Boston.

But if you rush things, you could regret it, suggests a new survey of a thousand cohabitating renters across the country by Rent.com.

You could find yourself hitched to a slob, or worse, a deadbeat.

More than a quarter of those surveyed began living together less than six months after meeting up, according to Rent.com. And while there are always some success stories, just 7 percent would do it all over again!

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

But if you can't wait, better have a serious talk about how you are going to split the rent and who is going to clean up and do the dishes.

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Crushed by student debt, how can he buy?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 9, 2014 09:47 AM

Way back in the Pleistocene, getting hitched, having kids and taking on a mortgage were signs of supposed maturity.

But with college tuition having gone berserk, today's millennials don't need to take on a mortgage to show they can pay off large amounts of debt.

In fact, the combination of toxic student debt loads and anemic job prospects have some millennials fearful that struggling to pay off their loans is just about the only thing they will be able to do in life.

Buy a house, let alone a vacation home? Dream on.

Here's a pretty interesting exchange that happened recently on the comment board of Boston Real Estate Now.

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Early spring sales best since 2004

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 8, 2014 08:52 AM

The early returns are out on the spring market. And the sales numbers are looking surprisingly strong, new stats out this morning show.

The best in a decade, in fact.

Pending sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts rose 15 percent this March compared to March, 2013, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reports.

The 5,185 homes put under agreement were the highest for any March since 2004, according to MAR.

Pending condo sales jumped 7.3 percent, to 2,183 units, the most since March 2006.

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Better have a fallback town

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 7, 2014 10:05 AM

Hung up on buying into a particularly hip or hot neighborhood or suburb?

Better get over it.  Stubborn, status-seeking buyers are likely to wind up disappointed this spring.

Competition is fierce, with lots of buyers and, once again, not enough sellers ready to part with their homes. The result is rock bottom inventory - a basic market stat that combines the number of unsold properties with the level of demand.

If you're smart, line up a fallback town - or two or three, for that matter.

Along those lines, here are some helpful hints culled from a couple recent chats I had with brokers and a pair of decent market overview stories that appeared this weekend in the Globe.

This piece, in the new Address section, delves in making the right bid; a second story, in Business, looks closely at how the shortage of homes for sale and how it is affecting buyers.

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Both prices and affordability are up

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 4, 2014 09:46 AM

Just call it the price/affordability paradox.

Home prices are on a tear again, with a number of Boston neighborhoods and upscale suburbs having blown past their previous peaks set during the bubble years.

Yet Greater Boston homeowners are shelling out a lower percentage of their income on mortgage payments than they were back in the 80s and 90s, Zillow notes in a new report.

Now it's just over 22 percent but back then it was nearly 28 percent.

So what gives?

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Bidding wars in Quincy?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 3, 2014 10:56 AM

Quincy right now is one of the most competitive communities in the Boston area for buyers looking to land a home, Redfin stats show.

There is an average of seven offers for every home sold now in the City of Presidents, which is gearing up for a massive makeover of its downtown.

The median list price is a relatively affordable $300,000, according to Redfin.

Homes near Wollaston Beach are getting lot of eyeballs right now. One spiffy Victorian with ocean views just fetched nearly $450,000.

Just check first to make sure you are not in a "flood plain" - the insurance could be a killer!

"It's the new hot place that is close to Boston," said one South Shore broker who has been busy selling homes in Quincy.

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Ugliest million-dollar home?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 2, 2014 10:32 AM

Depending on where you live in the grand old U.S. of A., having a million dollars to blow on a home will either make you a prince or just another pauper.

Jed Kolko, chief economist for real estate website Trulia, put together this pretty entertaining look at what a million will buy in various cities and suburbs across the country.

But what really got my attention is the cramped-looking townhouse in San Francisco that's displayed prominently at the top of Trulia's report, all 1,424 square feet of which can be yours for just $1,095,000.

Maybe it's just the outrageous price that makes it seem ugly. Still, the dull colors, the monotonous design of the row of attached town homes, and the lack of any redeeming greenery certainly don't help!

Yet whether it;s outrageous for San Francisco is another matter, with more than 43 percent of all listings at $1 million and up, Trulia notes.

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Old factory towns going upscale

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 1, 2014 09:35 AM

As prices rise and the biotech boom rolls on, more and more blue-collar towns are going upscale.

We saw it with now red hot inner suburbs like Watertown, Arlington and Somerville and now, a bit farther out, with towns like Medford and Natick.

Is Framingham next?

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Can boomers afford that dream home?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 31, 2014 10:23 AM

As more and more Baby Boomers head into retirement, they have some very big real estate plans. But whether most boomers can afford to retire in style and live out their sunset years in their ultimate dream home is another question altogether.

More than 70 percent say the home they will retire in will be "the best home in which they have ever lived," a new survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate finds.

Not only that, one in four boomers polled said they plan to buy a vacation home to go alongside that retirement dream house.

Tall order, especially coming out of the worst economic and real estate downturn since the Great Depression.

But as they say in those late-night infomercials, that's not all.

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Will success ruin Greater Boston?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 28, 2014 09:44 AM

Boston is one of those hot cities increasingly favored by the global business elite.

It's easy to gaze at all the posh new apartment and condo towers on the city's skyline and wonder who can afford to live there, but the wealthy buyers just keep on coming, whether from the suburbs or from any number of distant lands.

We've got the best colleges and universities, one of the biggest concentrations of bio-tech and life science companies and talent in the world, and a thriving tech sector.

But success can come sometimes with a hefty price-tag, and rising real estate prices tops the list.

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Condos party like it's 1989

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 27, 2014 09:25 AM

Condos haven't sizzled like this since the crazy condo boom of the 1980s.

OK, I took a little liberty with the headline. After all, by 1989 the great 80s condo boom had already started to go bust, but you get the point.

Condo prices are on a tear, rising 18.4 percent during the first two months of 2014 compared to last year, reports The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Even stranger still, condo prices have almost caught up with home values, which they traditionally lag by a considerable margin.

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Buyers face crazy competitive spring

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 26, 2014 09:55 AM

Buyers will face more bidding wars than ever before this spring, a new report finds.

More than 61 percent of Redfin brokers surveyed contend this spring will see even more intense competition for homes than last year, according to the real estate website/brokerage firm.

And the battles for listings between buyers are expected to be especially heated in the Boston area, where the inventory of unsold homes is down 22 percent compared to last March.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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