Monthly activity remains well below pre-pandemic levels as fears about job security and health keep many potential buyers sidelined
By Nicole Friedman | Wall Street Journal | June 22, 2020
A sluggish U.S. housing market is staging a recovery amid the pandemic, shaking off high unemployment and a rising number of infections as buyers with pent-up demand seize on record-low mortgage rates.
Sales of previously owned homes rose 20.7% in June over the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million, according to data from the National Association of Realtors released Wednesday, the biggest monthly increase on record going back to 1968. The surge in existing-home sales follows other recent bullish indicators such as rising new-home sales, robust home-builder activity and a flood of mortgage applications.
Driving sales are apartment renters seeking more space, young families moving to the suburbs, and wealthy city dwellers looking for second homes, brokers and economists say. At the same time, the supply of houses for sale remains low, with the pandemic making potential sellers cautious about letting people tour their homes.
“The housing market is hot, red hot,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, an industry trade group. “As we are coming out of the lockdown, we see this backlog of buyers…trying to take advantage of the record-low mortgage rates.”
Even with the jump in home sales, monthly activity remains well below levels that were seen before the spring lockdowns. June sales marked an 11.3% decrease from a year earlier. Many potential buyers remain on the sidelines, concerned about job security or the health risks related to visiting homes.
Sales of previously owned homes, which make up the vast majority of U.S. housing stock, were particularly strong last month in the West and South. Mr. Yun said activity was higher in small towns and suburbs than in urban centers. Compared with a year earlier, sales increased for homes between $250,000 and $500,000, while declining for lower-priced and higher-priced homes.
Rising home sales could boost the economy, as builders ramp up construction and new homeowners splurge on furniture and renovations. But a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and continued high unemployment could weigh on demand in the coming months. The housing market typically accounts for between 15% and 18% of the U.S. economy, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
The housing market has been a rare bright spot for what’s expected to be an exceptionally weak second quarter for the economy. Gross domestic product is expected to contract at a 35.3% annual rate in the second quarter, according to data firm IHS Markit. That would mark the sharpest quarterly deterioration in records dating back to 1947.
Home sales had been in a two-year rut headed into 2020, weighed down by perennially tight supply and historically high home prices. Even solid U.S. economic growth and low unemployment couldn’t get sales moving.
The housing market showed signs of finally busting out when activity surged at the start of the year. February existing-homes sales hit their highest monthly pace in 13 years. But they hit a wall a few weeks later, after widespread lockdowns kept buyers indoors, prevented real-estate agents from showing homes in some places, and prompted some sellers to pull their houses off the market.
Now, the major question is whether June’s strong sales pace can continue through the summer. In week ended July 14, about one-fourth of American adults missed their latest mortgage or rent payment or had little confidence they can make the next payment on time, according to a Census Bureau survey.
Homes typically go under contract a month or two before the sale closes, so the June data largely reflect purchase decisions made in April or May.
Some agents and brokers are optimistic that the usual spring demand has been pushed to the summer, and that momentum is building. The spring is normally the busiest season for home sales, as buyers with children want to move into new homes before the school year starts.
“We were in a strong housing market before, and we’re going back to it again,” said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the NAHB. “Even in places where the virus is peaking, there is still interest in home buying.”
Some of the hottest markets in May, which would be reflected in the June sales data, were Phoenix, Nashville, Tenn., Jacksonville, Fla., and Austin, Texas, said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. News Corp, parent of The Wall Street Journal, operates Realtor.com.
In the Phoenix area, some homes on the market are getting 20 or more offers, said Kelly Khalil, an agent with Redfin Corp. The number of homes for sale is limited, and buyers are worried about missing out, she said. “I’m starting to feel like by this time next year, we won’t have any houses under $400,000 in our hotter markets,” she said.
Economists warn that growing Covid-19 outbreaks in some parts of the country, including Arizona, Texas and Florida, could slow the market’s gains. Some buyers from New York and California are delaying their trips to Miami to shop for homes due to concerns about the state’s rising case count, said Danny Hertzberg, an agent with Coldwell Banker Realty.
“It felt like we were gaining momentum week after week, month after month, and all of a sudden there’s a little bit of a pause,” Mr. Hertzberg said.
Other housing indicators suggest a more bullish mood is emerging. A measure of U.S. home-builder confidence rose in July to pre-pandemic levels, the NAHB said last week. Housing starts, a measure of U.S. home-building, also rose 17.3% in June from May, the Commerce Department said last week. Pending new-home sales rose to a record in June, Meyers Research said on Wednesday.
For Liz Morrison and David Mahaffey, the attraction of low interest rates outweighed concerns about the pandemic.
The couple started touring homes in May and closed on their first house in Plano, Texas, in June. “It did feel scary. You never know when something’s going to go wrong,” said Ms. Morrison, 27 years old. “But I really was attracted to the low interest rate to save money over time.”
The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.98% last week, the lowest level on record, said mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac. Mortgage applications for home purchases rose 19% from a year earlier in the week ended July 17, the ninth straight week of year-over-year increases, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.
But limited inventory could make it harder to find a home. There were 1.57 million homes for sale at the end of June, up 1.3% from May but down 18.2% from June 2019, NAR said.
New-home sales in the United States unexpectedly increased in April after swooning a month earlier, suggesting the housing market is starting to stabilize.
Purchases of new single-family houses climbed 0.6% from March to a 623,000 annualized pace, government data showed Tuesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a drop to a 480,000 rate of sales. The median sale price fell 8.6% from a year earlier to $309,900.
The report boosted the stocks of home builders, which have rebounded in recent weeks. An index tracking the industry had jumped 19% in May through Friday, beating the gain in the S&P 500.
Mortgage rates near historic lows may be putting a floor under the housing market. And even as soaring unemployment and tighter credit standards threaten to complicate the recovery, home-building is proving to be a bright spot. Builders have been helped by local governments, which in many cases have deemed the industry essential and allowed work to continue.
Job losses are primarily hitting renters who are more likely to be working in lower-paying service and hospitality jobs that were damaged most by social-distancing rules, said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo.
Unlike the existing home market, which has seen a big drop in inventory, builders were able to accommodate buyers, showing floor plans virtually and even offering drive-thru closings.
“If the reopenings continue, housing may provide an upside surprise to the economy this year,’’ Vitner said.
Three of four US regions showed stronger home sales in April than a month earlier, reflecting 2.4% gains in the South and Midwest, the Commerce Department’s report showed. Purchases climbed 8.7% in the Northeast and dropped 6.3% in the West.
The government’s data measure signed contracts to buy homes. The slight gain in April came after sales dropped the most since 2013 in March, when much of the US economy shut down to stem the spread of coronavirus.
While housing is holding up better than expected, the recovery will depend on how quickly the rest of the economy bounces back.
“We’re still trying to understand what is the new normal,’’ said Alex Barron, an analyst with the Housing Research Center in El Paso.
The homes at Pier 4, the Seaport’s premiere luxury condominium, are now closing and ready for occupancy. The Penthouse homes at Pier 4 have sold for prices that had only previously been achieved in Back Bay and Beacon Hill, redefining the geography of Boston’s luxury condo market. One residence that has closed in the Penthouse Collection sold for $15,231,920 and achieved a record-shattering price per square foot of $4,180. As of June 2019, no other residential sale in Boston has ever closed for over $4,000 per square foot. So what are some of the features of these amazing homes in the Penthouse Collection?
Each has its own uniquely designed feature staircase leading to an expansive private roof terrace, equipped with a fully appointed kitchen – perfect for entertaining this Fourth of July
A full-height 99-bottle wine fridge – let your inner sommelier free
Soaring 10’5” ceiling – plenty of room for art and furniture that fits your tastes
Gas fireplaces – ideal for colder winter months
Private balconies with captivating views
Indulgent soaking tub for rest and relaxation after a long day of exploring all that the Seaport has to offer
Another home that sold in Pier 4’s Penthouse Collection also achieved $4,180 per square foot and sold for over $13 million. To put these sales in perspective, the highest sale in Back Bay in 2019 did not cross the $2,700 per square foot threshold. These record sales at Pier 4 showcase the value of new waterfront homes in full service buildings versus inventory in Back Bay and Beacon Hill that has aged and is not fully amenitized.
Missed your chance to tour these amazing homes? Luckily, there are still a few penthouses available, just in time to move in this summer! Register on our website and book an appointment today.
BOSTON — The Davis Companies hosted a groundbreaking celebration to launch 100 Shawmut, the South End’s newest collection of thoughtfully designed luxury condominium residences slated to open in Fall 2020.
100 Shawmut is the first of three abutting projects, collectively approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency, to commence construction. Speakers included Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, Jonathan Davis, Founder & CEO of The Davis Companies, Steven Chin, Senior Pastor at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church, and Paul Chan, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.
“Today, we celebrate the groundbreaking of 100 Shawmut – a project realized through a unique partnership between The Davis Companies, the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association,” said Jonathan Davis, Founder & CEO of The Davis Companies. “Our collaboration has yielded a dynamic development for the historic South End and this innovative property will ensure that our Chinatown-based non-profit partners will be able to serve the community for years to come, in addition to bringing new housing and jobs to our city.”
Located at the intersection of Herald Street and Shawmut Avenue, the $170 million, 13-story, residential project is comprised of 138 condominiums, including studios, one, two, three- and four-bedroom units, many featuring a den space.
When 100 Shawmut is completed, the 232,000 square-foot property will seamlessly integrate the historic character of the original 1920’s facade with a newly constructed glass structure designed by The Architectural Team (TAT). The building will have a number of private balconies offering sweeping vistas of the city. EMBARC Studio, the interior design team, has created a modern approach to the interiors with a mixture of white oak wood detailing and textural stone conveying a warm, neutral color palette, transitioning and merging the neighborhood architecture with a fresh, new interior.
The building will have a comprehensive amenity program that includes 24/7 concierge, private parking, a private dining/conference room with an entertaining kitchen, a great room, a billiard room, an activity lounge, library, fitness center, dog wash station and children’s playroom. The Penthouse features an indoor and outdoor residents lounge, and a rooftop sky lounge equipped with gas grills and fire pits. 100 Shawmut also houses 3-levels of enclosed private parking containing 112 spaces for residents.
“100 Shawmut presents a rare opportunity to live in a stylish, new condominium building in the South End, one of Boston’s most sought-after historic neighborhoods,” said Janice Dumont, CEO of Advisors Living. “The definition of modern luxury has just been elevated. The comprehensive amenity program, along with the building’s incredible views, private outdoor spaces and the availability of three-and-four- bedroom residences and penthouses creates a new lifestyle experience in the heart for the city for homeowners. We are privileged to be the exclusive brokerage firm for The Davis Companies on this unique property.”
The Davis Companies will be making a $15,000,000 contribution toward the creation of Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) units in an escrow account controlled by the BPDA for the benefit of the CCBA Building. In addition, The Davis Companies has committed $200,000 to various community programs.
Suffolk Construction is the general contractor for 100 Shawmut. The Architectural Team, Inc. located in Chelsea, MA is the design architect and EMBARC Studio, located in Boston has designed the interiors. Copley Wolff Design Group is the landscape architecture firm for the project. Engineers for 100 Shawmut are McNamara Salvia, WSP and Howard Stein Hudson Associates.
The project is financed by a $105,000,000 construction loan from M&T Bank with participating lenders that include Berkshire Bank, HarborOne Bank, Needham Bank, and Bank of New England.
The Davis Companies is an integrated real estate investment, development and management firm headquartered in Boston that has invested more than $6.2 billion in gross asset value through real estate equity, debt and fixed-income securities. A combination of capital markets, development and management expertise allows The Davis Companies to nimbly tackle complex opportunities. Directly, and with its valued partners, The Davis Companies currently owns a real estate portfolio of approximately 10.2 million square feet of office, retail, hospitality, light industrial, healthcare and life science properties and approximately 5,000 residential units across the Eastern United States.
Advisors Living is a full service luxury real estate lifestyle and brokerage company representing residential, new development, and leasing clients. Our team is committed to exceptional service and delivery and our depth of experience is unparalleled in today’s market. The properties we represent include Pier 4 in the Seaport, which has achieved the highest price per square foot to date in the City of Boston. New development sites extend as far north as Newburyport and as far south as Westport with a strong presence in the metro west and Boston markets.
Boston Magazine 2/26/19: These Are the Top Places to Live Around Boston Right Now
by Madeline Bilis
Walkable downtowns, hip restaurants, and plenty of living space. How 12 suburban towns are wooing the next generation of homebuyer, one millennial at a time.
FOR THE BEACH BUM
Coastal towns making waves for more than just ocean views.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $415,000 Property Tax Rate: $13.42 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 57 minutes
Sea breezes and (relatively) cheap home prices—what more can you ask for? This former summertime hideaway is now a lively year-round community complete with a bevy of affordable single-families, sparkling condos, and even a revamped waterfront promenade. While the bustle of 1950s Nantasket Beach is no longer, the town’s new Paragon Boardwalk is currently getting an infusion of hipster-tinged nostalgia. Husband-and-wife team Chris and Diana Reale purchased the rundown property in late 2017 and have since upgraded it with an arcade—featuring old-school games, naturally—as well as mini golf and grub from former Clio and Liquid Art House chef Douglas Rodrigues. Plus, commuting into Boston is as easy as hopping on the ferry. Landlubbers need not apply.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $924,000 Property Tax Rate: $11.03 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 46 minutes
A guaranteed parking spot at Singing Beach is one of the best perks of being a year-round Manchester-by-the-Sea dweller—when you finally manage to snag a place, that is. “If things are priced well in Manchester, they don’t last a minute,” says Julie Smith, an agent with Engel & Völkers by the Sea. “People are waiting to get into this town. It’s crazy.” And for good reason: The coastal life here is easy—and convenient. There’s a commuter-rail stop smack in the middle of a walkable downtown packed with shopping and dining options, plus long lists of community events. On summer nights, for example, beach bums of all ages spread out on blankets to watch movies or hear music in Masconomo Park, which overlooks the ocean.
FOR THE SHOPAHOLIC
You don’t have to live on Beacon Hill to enjoy lovely boutique-lined streets. Walk out your front door and into your favorite stores in suburbia.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $378,000 Property Tax Rate: $17.50 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 56 minutes
An artisanal ice cream shop, a craft brewery, a gift store stocked with handmade wares, and, yes, a speakeasy, all within walking distance of one another: What city neighborhood could possibly check all of those boxes? Hudson does. Over the past five years, the once-languishing central Massachusetts mill town has been transformed into a lively, dynamic locale—and people are noticing. Younger city dwellers worn down by sky-high prices are putting down roots here, as are suburbanites. “So many times before, we had found ourselves…sipping crafts beers at Medusa Brewing Company,” says teacher Ryann Hart, who moved to Hudson from nearby Marlborough. “And then we truly hit the jackpot when our dream home came on the market.”
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $1,041,000 Property Tax Rate: $14.29 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 45 minutes
Everyone knows Concord is home to one of New England’s quaintest town centers, with indie shops aplenty dotting Main and Walden streets. But it’s only recently that the town upgraded its second pedestrian-friendly shopping area, the West Concord Village District, with boutiques such as the new Joy Street Life + Home and gathering places like Reasons to Be Cheerful, a cute scoop shop. Less than a five-minute walk away is the Wheelhouse, a coworking space in a former furniture mill that draws artists and entrepreneurs. “Our amenities have changed radically,” says broker Zur Attias, of the Attias Group. That explains the 18-percent jump in sales from 2017 to 2018.
FOR THE ROAD WARRIOR
More time in the car means more charming spaces to stretch your legs outside of it. And in these newly hip exurbs, it means a lot more fun, too.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $431,500 Property Tax Rate: $12.66 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 61 minutes
“I think 50 percent of my buyers are actually coming from Boston,” says Muneeza Nasrullah, owner of Muneeza Realty Group with Keller Williams Realty. So why are urban refugees fleeing to Shrewsbury, just 39 miles west of the city? The establishment of Lakeway Commons, a gigantic mixed-use development at the former site of time-honored retailer Spag’s, for one. “It’s like urban living in the suburbs because you can walk to Whole Foods or Orangetheory Fitness,” Nasrullah says. That, plus Shrewsbury’s charming and walkable town center, complete with a newly renovated library; proximity to Worcester’s sizzling restaurant scene; and combination of millennial-friendly starter homes and higher-end properties for growing families.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $380,000 Property Tax Rate: $16.46 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 51 minutes
Back in the day, the carriage ride from Plymouth to Boston used to drag on for hours. So by comparison, today’s hourlong journey down Route 3 is quite a breeze. While Plymouth’s Colonial roots make it truly the original place to live, it’s the town’s newer developments that have brought it into the spotlight. The Pinehills, for example, bills itself as a “new take on the classic New England village”: The roughly 3,000-acre planned community consists of single-families and townhouses, with shops and restaurants surrounding its own traditional village green. Of course, Plymouth offers plenty of modern amenities, including a new winery and craft breweries. Those just starting out can scoop up small Cape-style homes in the $200,000 range—we’ll drink to that.
FOR THE FOODIE
City-quality restaurants and easy-to-swallow house prices? Welcome home, young epicures.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $607,500 Property Tax Rate: $12.61 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 31 minutes
Ravenous after a long day at the office? Nothing beats coming home to a town anchored by “Restaurant Row.” Waltham’s Moody Street offers the best part of Boston without the hassle, featuring top-notch eateries such as Red Bird, Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions, and dozens of other spots. Nearby, new apartment complexes like the Merc at Moody & Main make it so residents “don’t even have to pull their car out of the driveway” to tuck into charcuterie boards, says Hans Brings, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. Don’t want to own a gas guzzler? Not a problem—the town has one commuter-rail stop with another just over the border in Belmont, a convenience that’s likely to draw more millennials than ever to Watch City.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $425,000 Property Tax Rate: $15.38 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 43 minutes
It’s a delicious time to be a homeowner in Salem, where some of the area’s top restaurateurs are inching north to meet the demands of the hungry historical town. Take chef Matt O’Neil, owner of the award-winning Blue Ox in Lynn. He recently opened Ledger to much acclaim, serving up New England cuisine inside a former bank. Then there’s Tim Haigh and Larry Leibowitz, the homegrown two-person restaurant group behind beloved wood-fired-pizza shop Bambolina and, more recently, noodle bar Kokeshi. In the mood for cocktails with a view? Just saunter over to the Roof at the Hotel Salem. What’s more, locals can dine out often without pinching pennies, considering the town’s housing stock is surprisingly affordable: Eagle-eyed house hunters will notice single-families hitting the market for under $400,000.
FOR THE COMMITMENT-AVERSE
They’re close enough to the city that you can bike in, but cool enough that you may never want to leave.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $805,000 Property Tax Rate: $12.13 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 24 minutes
Okay, we’ll say it: Arlington is the new Somerville (which, of course, was the new Cambridge). No longer a sleepy suburb, this town gets trendier by the day, attracting artists to its eastern reaches and UppaBaby strollers to the west. A gradual relaxation of Arlington’s Puritanical liquor laws has allowed bars like Common Ground to elbow their way in, while indie maker shop and commissary kitchen the Local Fare hosts innovative food startups that couldn’t possibly afford exorbitant city rents. When it does come time to head into Boston, commuting is as easy as cruising down Arlington’s revamped bike lanes, then hopping on the Minuteman Bikeway all the way to Alewife to catch the T downtown.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $1,777,500 Property Tax Rate: $9.46 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 23 minutes
While it’s not exactly a secret that Brookline’s tree-lined streets are the place to be, the town is now drawing an even younger, hipper crowd eager to shed some of urban life, but not all of it. Case in point? Allium Market and Café, a newly opened specialty food emporium in Coolidge Corner that serves up a mean avocado toast (we did say millennials, didn’t we?). It’s just around the corner from rows of stately Victorians fetching more than $3 million and $700,000 condos in historical brownstones—not to mention top-notch public schools. “It’s a perfect blend of city and suburban lifestyles,” says Diana Kuang, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage—and one that’s only a 15-minute T ride from Coolidge Corner into Boston, to boot.
FOR THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
Parties, events, clubs—finding your crew is easy when you live here.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $625,000 Property Tax Rate: $13.05 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 43 minutes
It’s tough not bumping into your neighbors in this sizable MetroWest suburb with a surprisingly close-knit community. Just ask the folks who pack into the Center for the Arts in Natick to catch concerts, open-mike nights, and films both new and old. On any given weekend, residents select the freshest fruits and veggies at the town’s farmers’ market, say “om” in the woods with PeaksandPoses Trail Yoga, and devour a hot dog (or three) at the 129-year-old establishment Casey’s Diner. While century-old restaurants—and houses—are the norm here, there are also plenty of new-construction abodes for sale: Converted churches have even been known to hit the market every once in a while.
2018 Median Single-Family Price: $612,450 Property Tax Rate: $13.26 Morning Drive Time to Boston: 50 minutes
“Every piece of land that can be built on in Newburyport is being built on,” says William Raveis agent Susan Grillo—see: condos being carved out of antique captain’s homes and brand-new houses springing up on small plots. The kicker? They’re all just steps from downtown. In addition to the shops and restaurants bordering the Merrimack, Newburyport is packed with social clubs. Artists and art lovers flock to the Newburyport Art Association, birdwatchers convene at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, and every spring, a music festival called Plumfest hosts local bands and musicians on porches across Plum Island. “There’s something for everyone, depending on what you’re interested in,” Grillo says.
A behind-the-scenes look at new real estate in one of America’s oldest cities.
By Geoff Nudelman
December 31, 2018
It’s an increasingly familiar scene: hundreds of young professionals mill about a farm-to-table lunch, a hip workout gear shop, or a SoulCycle spin class.
Across America, this is a common snapshot in newer cities where affluent 20- and 30-somethings are starting fresh in more affordable secondary markets.
But this particular scene isn’t happening somewhere new. It’s happening in one of the oldest cities in America: Boston.
While the traditional neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and Back Bay are still alive and well, the growth of Boston’s luxury offerings are front and center in Seaport–a neighborhood that was literally underwater until the late 1800s and is now thriving as an example of the future of American living.
“It’s truly an iconic location,” says Janice Dumont, CEO of Advisors Living, speaking about the site of new building Pier 4–a dramatic, curved, 106-unit enclave tucked behind the Museum of Contemporary Art on Seaport’s northern side.
Pier 4’s modern architecture (designed by renowned firm SHoP), full-service amenities, and integrated waterfront living are drawing buyers from far and wide to the urban environment. (Some are paying as much as $4,200 per square foot for penthouses.)
“[Based on all on of this], Seaport has created a new destination within the city,” Dumont says.
As much as a skyline dotted with cranes and construction is dizzying in Seaport, the center of traditional Boston luxury still resides in the #5 neighborhood of our Top 10 Priciest Neighborhoods in America: Beacon Hill.
“It’s a real village and a tight-knit community,” says Manuel Davis, senior vice president of Advisors Living and the exclusive listing agent at the Archer Residences, Beacon Hill.
The full-service, seven-story building (half of which was the original Suffolk University Law School) underscores the immense work and effort required to restore and modernize a piece of living history–and how attractive that proposition is to luxury buyers.
What started as 75 residences of varying sizes has been condensed to 61 condos due to buyer requests, many averaging above $5 million. (Davis could not give specific sales figures, but noted that they have been “robust.” The building will be completed towards the end of 2019.) The Archer Residences had to work with several historical commissions to carefully restore the combined building, retaining Beacon Hill’s trademark charm and style along the way.
Coupled with extremely limited inventory in single-family homes, Beacon Hill stands to remain an epicenter of Boston luxury for some time to come.
Just across Boston Common, the Four Seasons Boston Hotel and Residences remains another mark of traditional Boston affluence. Built in 1983, the residential side of the building has long been home to some of the city’s wealthiest people with a location overlooking the park and one of the earliest examples of modern, full-service amenity living in the area. Since its opening, residences have rarely traded on the market and haven’t been available for long.
The success of the original property spurred Four Seasons to build a large new residential/hotel hybrid tower just a mile-and-a-half away at One Dalton.
“It’s in a class all its own,” says Michael Carucci, executive vice president at Gibson Sotheby’s, which is the exclusive listing agent for the 61-floor project.
While he can’t reveal sales numbers, he did say that the building is 75 percent sold with “sales at a record pace compared to other Four Seasons projects around the world, and at price premiums above the Boston market that are higher than most price premiums achieved by other comparable projects in their respective markets.”
“Boston is becoming such a global destination [for the ultra-wealthy]. A lot of us were wondering: What took so long?” he says.
Opening in spring 2019, One Dalton will bring 160 condos perched above the new hotel, which marks a decided shift in the local luxury market. Three separate floors are earmarked as dedicated amenity spaces, with several floors at the top of the building reserved for unfinished penthouses. Pricing will range from $2.5 million to over $40 million.
Carucci noted that luxury buyers across the entire spectrum–not just the younger set–are looking for all-in-one, live/work/play lifestyles, drawing them to buildings in places like Back Bay and Seaport that are close to major commercial centers.
“There’s no longer an appetite for commuting,” he says. “It’s very important to people to not to sit in traffic anymore.”
Perhaps therein lies much of this newfound attraction to Boston: it’s a highly walkable city. End-to-end isn’t much more than an hour at a strolling pace, and many of these newer projects are taking advantage of the old “location, location, location” adage.
Boston’s next major neighborhood renewal, Lovejoy Wharf, takes advantage of its waterfront location. While Related Beal has already opened a 15-story, 157-unit building right next to the relocated Converse HQ (and complete with an Instagrammable restaurant facing the water), that’s just the tip of iceberg.
This largely quiet residential area sits next to TD Garden and a major transit hub, and as it stands could be Boston’s next micro-hotspot.
“The evolution has been really interesting,” says the Codman Company (TCC) managing director Sue Hawkes (TCC works with several residential properties throughout Boston). “It’s been a niche area that was formerly cut off by some of Boston’s man-made boundaries.”
Besides shoes and brunch, the Hub on Causeway is bringing a major mixed-use development–complete with Boston’s largest supermarket–to a site across the street from the sports arena. The planned residential and office components are aimed at attracting tech and advertising workers–the ones that can afford luxury properties and the required amenities of 21st century living. (Verizon has already pre-leased a significant chunk of the building’s available office space.)
However, all of this new inventory coming online may present new challenges for a city that has traditionally had a tight luxury housing market.
“The developers are going to have to deliver a really good product,” Carucci says, “because over the next couple of years there will be fierce competition for buyers. There’s no question about that.”
Home prices throughout the state continued to rise in July, but the number of actual home sales has decreased for the first time this year.
New figures by The Warren Group show that buying a house is not an easy feat. The median price of a single-family home in Massachusetts has climbed 2.7% in July, to $369,000 and condos have climbed 3.7% to $350,000.
Despite this increase in price, the numbers of homes sold during the month fell by 12.5%, with fewer property owners listing their homes for sale.
Other reports have supported these claims, with a report by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors showing that the number of single-family homes listed for sale this July was down 29% compared to the same time last year.
This decline in inventory of available properties has been going on for 54 straight months according to the reports.
Due to a decrease in inventory, buyers are seeing an increase in prices and intense competition with homes selling at a much faster rate.
Without a boost in supply this trend is suspected to continue throughout the end of the summer.
The speed of the current housing market is no secret, but depending on what neighborhood you’re buying or selling in, this speed can vary.
NeighborhoodX has put out a report looking at the speed at which condos in various Boston neighborhoods have sold.
By analyzing transactions from various Boston neighborhoods in the month of July and looking at data from the number of days condos were on the market, they were able to create a list of the fastest-selling neighborhoods.
Price also played an important factor in this analysis. The neighborhoods where condos spent the fewest days on the market had an average price of $450,000. The average selling price in Back Bay where the average days on the market were the longest, was $1.7 million.