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 COVID-19 public health crisis has slowed many industries since Governor Charlie Baker introduced a stay-at-home order in March, and real estate is no exception. Even so, multimillion-dollar listings continue to pop up on the market.
Boston’s luxury condo market is facing a mismatch between supply and demand: Developers are building condos aimed at the wealthiest buyers, but buyers are looking for a wider range of prices, according to real estate experts and recent data.
While Boston’s population is growing, wage growth hasn’t kept up with the fast rise of prices, according to a recent recap of Boston’s luxury condominium market by The Collaborative Cos.
“Buyers have not been able to fully engage in this new, costlier market,” the report said. “The factors which would traditionally support a fast-absorbing pricing dynamic do not appear to be available for this current supply of product.”
In other words, thousands of luxury units are being built across the city, but sellers may have to lower those prices or risk sitting on unsold condos until the supply-demand imbalance gets restored. The report recommends that a consistent volume of sales can only happen if new residential units are designed with a broader range of sizes and price points.
Record-high sales prices
Total home sales fell over the course of 2019, sending worries through Boston’s residential brokerage community. But at the same time, Boston saw record-high sales prices: The median cost for a condo in Boston was $810,000 in 2019, and average listing prices were $280,000 higher in 2019 than in 2018, said Laura Gollinger, vice president of The Collaborative Cos., who oversees research and design development programs for the Boston-based residential consulting and analytics firm.
“Some people were kind of saying the sky was falling. And in reality, yeah, the absorption was less. But the price points were much higher,” Gollinger said. “The number of transactions was slightly less, but the price points were record-setting.”
For instance, at both the recently opened Four Seasons Private Residences One Dalton Street in Back Bay, and at Pier Four in the Seaport District, some units sold at over $4,000 per square foot. “The city’s never seen anything like that,” Gollinger said.
Some 25,700 units are either planned or under construction across Greater Boston, according to the report. In the Seaport alone, some 1,200 apartments and condominiums are expected to come online within one block of each other, at NEMA Boston, EchelonSeaport, Gables Seaport and the St. Regis Residences, Boston.
EchelonSeaport is a good example of unit diversity: With a price range of $700,000 to $5 million and higher, EchelonSeaport has seen a “brisk pace,” selling around 10 units per month.
This year prices may level off, which could allow wage growth to catch up, said Mike Schlott, president of Kinlin Grover Real Estate, which operates from Cape Cod through Plymouth and Bristol counties.
“The last couple of years I think we’ve seen a more normalization in price appreciation in Massachusetts,” Schlott said. “Hopefully wage growth is keeping up with that.”
The heaviest competition continues to be for homes priced under $1.5 million. In past years, the buyer pool would have been focused on the under $1 million range, Brian Dougherty, managing director of residential brokerage Compass in Boston and head of the firm’s private brokerage division, said.
“The price band under $1.5 (million) is where buyers have to roll up their sleeves and really make a very strategic effort to find a place in core Boston,” Dougherty said.
Dougherty recalled one property, priced at $1.25 million, that recently received 17 offers to buy. “There are for sure buyers that in years past would have been in the mix, and they’re kind of waiting it out, or they’re priced out of the market,” he said.
Boston’s buyers have predominately been locals, Gollinger said, as opposed to Manhattan, which tends to draw a larger pool of foreign investors. As a result, the pool of buyers who can afford an ultra-luxury product is small relative to the city’s entire residential market. In 2019, for all of Boston’s luxury residential buildings, there were just 60 transactions at $6 million and above, Gollinger said. Most of those were at One Dalton and Pier 4.
“As you get larger in terms of your price point, your demand dips,” Gollinger said.
At the ultra-luxury Raffles Back Bay Hotel & Residences, now under construction now at 40 Trinity Place, a majority of units will be priced between $2 million and $5 million. That’s an example of where The Collaborative Cos. is advising developers to not emphasize the top 1% of buyers.
“There’s definitely demand for both new luxury and new mid-luxury,” Gollinger said. “I just caution that, as people are planning new projects, really keeping in mind who the buyer is, because having empty buildings isn’t good for anybody.”
We are thrilled to introduce you to restaurateur Kristin Canty who will be establishing the Seaport’s first farm-to-table restaurant at PIER 4.
You may recognize Canty’s name as the mastermind behind Concord’s popular Woods Hill Table. Wood’s Hill Table is an organic restaurant, complete with a full bar, that is a culmination of Kristin’s passion for food, family farms, sustainable sourcing and ancestral health.
Read the below Q&A to learn about her inspiration, favorite dishes, why this location, and more.
Q: Why this location?
A:Having grown up in the Greater Boston area, I have fond memories of celebrating with friends and family at Anthony’s PIER 4. As a restaurateur, I’m inspired by its impact on the Boston restaurant scene. While the Anthony’s PIER 4 experience could never be replicated, we do hope to honor its legacy by providing the Seaport a convivial waterfront dining atmosphere and warm hospitality.
Q: Where do you source your products?
A: We source our products from our proprietary farm, The Farm at Woods Hill, in Bath, New Hampshire, and several other small, supporting purveyors. Purchased in 2013, our farm is the source for the vast majority of the food served at Woods Hill Table, including pasture-raised cows, pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, ducks, lambs, blueberries, garlic, pumpkins, apples and more. The 265- acre property also boasts four beehives, and 200 mushroom logs that sprout mushroom varietals including oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane and maitake.
Q: When did you open Woods Hill Table and why?
A: I purchased the farm in 2013 and opened the doors to Woods Hill Table in March 2015.
Ever since I was personally impacted by the healing power of food many years ago, ancestral health has become a personal and public passion. Defined by pasturing farm animals, growing produce without pesticides and embracing raw and fermented foods, the concept is seamlessly woven through the Woods Hill Table menu, allowing me to share the foods that I’ve long created for my family with the larger community.
Q: What’s your favorite dish? Ingredient?
A: I’m a huge raw food advocate, and I eat our Woods Hill Farm Beef Tartare almost every day! It’s made with beef from our own pasture raised, grass-fed cows and is both flavorful and incredibly nutrient dense.
Q: Tell us more about Farmageddon.
A: After seeing the impact the incorporation of raw milk had on my son’s health, I spent years working with and advocating on behalf of farmers locally in New England and across the country. This inspired me to produce my documentary, Farmageddon – The Unseen War on American Family Farms. The film, which was released in 2011, captures the obstacles faced by the modern farmer and the injustices, including government raids and search and seizure, so often faced by the families that form the foundation of America’s food system.
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.
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.”
The longtime home of legendary Boston seafood restaurant Anthony’s Pier 4 is rapidly transforming into a luxury condominium complex, and the site’s developer just landed a lease with farm-to-table restaurateur Kristin Canty.
Interest is strong for the Pier 4 condos, said Janice Dumont, CEO of AdvisorsLiving. The firm, which is the residential division of Boston Realty Advisors, is the exclusive sales and marketing agent of the nine-story, 106-unit complex.
Pier 4, a nine story, 106-unit luxury condominium building, will open in late 2018 at the former Anthony’s Pier 4 site in Boston. Tishman Speyer is developing the complex, which was designed by SHoP Architects in collaboration with Boston-based CBT.
“Given the nostalgia of the site, and the fact that so many people have had wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, at the site, it’s been very exciting,” Dumont said in an interview with the Business Journal.
Two-bedroom units at Pier 4 will start at $2 million-plus. Each home has its own private outdoor space and water views, and penthouse units will feature private roof decks. Amenities include an outdoor terrace, an outdoor seating and dining area with a fire pit, virtual golf and 24-hour concierge services from First Service Residential.
A very rare opportunity has opened up in the Seaport District, with an incredible penthouse loft.
33 Sleeper Street is perfectly situated across from an open air lot with 100 year city lease, protecting the unobstructed water and city skyline views from this beautiful penthouse.
The authentic loft space boasts an entire wall of red brick, exposed sand blasted wooden ceilings and beams and incredible high ceilings complete with four skylights.
The open space offers the perfect opportunity for a new resident to really customize it and add their own creative touch.
There is a custom platform with hardwood floors and built-in bookcases that offers a definition to the space and separation. The layout can easily be converted into a second bedroom, creating many possibilities for the space.
Other building amenities at 33 Sleeper Street include deeded courtyard parking just steps from the entrance, deeded storage, extra bike storage, in-unit washer and dryer, large closet space, a doorman and new elevators.
The location is unmatched, situated right in the heart of Boston’s newest restaurant row, just minutes from multiple transit lines and with easy access to the Financial District, Downtown and the rest of Boston.
Contact Kristy Ganong or Manuel Davis to find out more about this rare opportunity to own this beautiful Seaport District space.
One Seaport Square construction is underway, bringing 832 new residential units to the area by summer 2017.
The residential development is located in the heart of Boston’s Seaport District and consists of two towers, The Benjamin and VIA.
The ground floors will bring 250,000 square feet of retail space including a Big Night Entertainment bar and nightclub, an Equinox gym, a movie theater, bowling alley and restaurants. Courthouse Square will connect the two towers and bring an open pedestrian plaza.
Residents of One Seaport Square can enjoy beautiful views of the Boston skyline and Boston Harbor through the floor to ceiling windows that make up the outside of the buildings.
Both buildings will have balconies and offer easy access to the Harborwalk, Fort Point and more.
Other amenities within the development include, three levels of underground parking, units ranging from studios to three bedrooms and shared and private outdoor spaces.
Both of the buildings have now been topped off and are expected to be complete by June of next year.
One Seaport Square will qualify for LEED Silver sustainability certification based on its construction.
Contact our advisors for more information about living at One Seaport Square or any other new developments around Boston.