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.
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.”
The developer of a 138-unit luxury condominium tower in Boston’s South End says presales activity has been strong ahead of its scheduled completion this fall. The Davis Cos. partnered with the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association on the 100 Shawmut condo development, which held a topping-off ceremony Tuesday.
Designed by The Architectural Team of Chelsea with Suffolk as construction manager, 100 Shawmut redeveloped and expanded a 6-story office building into a 13-story, 232,000-square-foot condo tower. The building will feature high-end finishes designed by Embarc Studio and a 13th floor indoor-outdoor lounge.
Advisors Living is the project’s sales agent. Other members of the project team include Copley Wolff Design Group, Howard Stein Hudson Associates, McNamara Salvia and WSP. Construction lenders include M&T Bank, Berkshire Bank, HarborOne Bank, Needham Bank and Bank of New England. The project complied with Boston’s inclusionary development policy by designating BCEC and CCBA as recipient of its affordable housing contribution. The organizations are planning to develop 536 apartments and condos on neighboring parcels, including 26 percent dedicated for affordable housing.
The 13-story, 138-unit condo building at 100 Shawmut Avenue in Boston’s South End officially topped off on March 9, lead developer the Davis Companies announced. The luxury development in a neighborhood peppered with them is expected to open this fall.
Pre-sales have already started at 100 Shawmut, and a release from Davis says that they’ve been met “with strong interest.” But a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
The development at Herald Street and Shawmut Avenue is due to include 22 studios, 34 one-bedrooms, 23 one-bedrooms with a den, 27 two-bedrooms, 15 two-bedrooms with a den, 12 three-bedrooms, three three-bedrooms with a den, and two four-bedrooms. Eleven of the units will be penthouses.
“We are thrilled to celebrate yet another milestone of 100 Shawmut,” Jonathan Davis, founder and chief executive of the Davis Companies, said in a statement. “This project is a great example of an innovative and sustainable development in what is becoming a new nexus between the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods.”
The 232,000-square-foot 100 Shawmut incorporates the 1920s facade of the office building that was there within a new glass structure. The Architectural Team, based in Chelsea, handled that design, and EMBARC Studio of Boston designed the interiors. Copley Wolff is the landscape architect.
The building’s amenities are due to include a 24-hour concierge, private parking for 112, billiards, a fitness center, a dog-washing station, and a playroom for the kids. A rooftop lounge is expected to include gas grills and fire pits.
In the end, the years-in-the-making project came about through a partnership between Davis, the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church (BCEC), and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA).
Davis, as part of advancing 100 Shawmut, is contributing $15 million to a city-controlled escrow account for developing affordable housing at a CCBA-owned site at 50 Herald Street next to 100 Shawmut. That project is expected to hold 313 apartments, 26 percent of which will be designated affordable.
Steel framing is rising for the luxury condo project, 100 Shawmut in the South End. The project will offer 138 homes featuring elegant finishes including white oak wood floors and Silestone countertops. Resident amenities will include a 24-hour concierge service, valet parking, a fitness center, library, pet spa, children’s playroom, and a rooftop sky lounge.
An exciting new urban park is coming to the South End thanks to the developers of the popular Ink Block community.
National Development, along with MassDOT, are planning to revitalize a long-neglected area of the city, according to the Boston Herald.
Beneath a raised portion of Interstate 93, there are plans to create a new park complete with: a boardwalk, waterside performance space, basketball court, bike paths, a dog park and a community event space.
The I-93 underpass between Albany Street and Frontage Road is known for high levels of crime, however through this redevelopment they hope to bridge the South End and South Boston and transform the space.
This urban park will compliment the new development in the area and offer a new and exciting community space.
The park opening schedule and list of activities is expected to be announced next spring and will hold a minimum of 24 events a year.
The popular South End Open Market that is currently held at Ink Block could also potentially relocate to the park once it is complete.
The park will encourage pedestrian and bike traffic, while the boardwalk will specifically provide a connection between the South End and South Boston by connecting to an exciting walkway to South Station.
Plans also include a 24-hour parking lot for 176 cars.
Find out more information about living at Ink Block here. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today to find out about all of the new developments in the South End!