Jan 2010 05

You asked the questions we’ve got your answers. It’s Question and Answer time with Jeanine Heller of Boston Condo Blog. Have a question? Email them to jheller@warrenre.com with Q&A in the Subject line.

Q: Has the real estate market hit bottom or will home values sink lower?
A: How does anyone predict the bottom? I think we will see a slight dip in home value but nothing substantial. So yes I would say we are close to the bottom. At the same time I don’t think we will see any type of major upswing or bounce back either. If anything takes a hit it will be the new luxury highrise inventory, but I think most came on the market way overpriced to begin with. This isn’t the booming buy and flip quick market we saw prior 2006, the days of flash for cash and bidding wars are gone. Buyers are more cautious with their investments and are really seeking out those great irreplaceable investments.

Q: What are your favorite condos currently on the market?
A: My favorite listings currently on the market – that’s a good one. I have a couple favorites but each for different reasons. My first is the 2 bed penthouse at FP3 for $1.8M, the view of the water and Boston skyline is insane, also it has two enormous private outdoor patios and a sleek modern layout. I will have to post photos of this home, you enter up a set of stairs and walk into this gorgeous open kitchen with floor to ceiling windows all around, honestly the view stops you dead in your tracks – it’s breathtaking. James Bond would feel very at home here. Another favorite is Zero Marlborough at $4.1. Who wouldn’t like a 3,500 sqft floor-through home over looking the public garden? This building just has a good feeling when you walk into it and there’s no wasted space in the unit. All 3,500 sqft have been put to use and the master bath is to die for. I like the 210 South Street lofts over in the Leather District…This is a tough question.

Q: Which Boston neighborhood will my investment be most secure in?
A: No question about it the answer will always be Back Bay. Back Bay and Beacon Hill – specifically the flat of the hill will always command top dollar for Boston real estate. Neighborhoods such as the South End (SOWA) and the Seaport are more risky as they are somewhat on a tipping point and could go either way. If you want to be safe stick with Back Bay / Flat of Beacon Hill.

Q: What’s with all these auctions? Is an condo auction the same as a foreclosure?
A: An auction is not the same as a foreclosure and can actually be a very smart tactic for moving units quickly in today’s market. It’s not that people don’t want to buy today it’s that they can’t. Although mortgage rates are down securing funding for large luxury residential buildings has been close to impossible. Often times buyers are asked to put up to 20% down when in previous markets almost anyone could buy with zero down – we all know how that turned out though. For example say a buyer wants to purchase a condo for $300,000 well he then has to be able to put $60,000 (20%) down in cash. Also, the FHA typically requires the condo building to have at least 51% owner occupancy in order for a buyer to secure a conventional loan. Therefore, holding an “auction” offering slight discounts in order to hit this number is a great strategy. Typically homes sell at fair-market-value so the developer doesn’t take a loss, units move quickly and it opens the door for mortgage backed buyers. A great example of the use of an auction as a strategic tactic would be The Bryant Back Bay.

Q: Did a parking spot really sell for $300,000 in Boston.
A: Sadly yes.

Q: How early should I begin my rental search?
A: Rental availabilities typically come on the market 45-days prior to occupancy. So, about a month and a half to a month before your desired move in date.

Q: I see your background is in the movie business, how does it compare to the world of real estate?
A: Oh not all that different inflated egos, gossip and lots of sorting through rubbish to get to the truth – Ha. The movie business definitely had better parties + events, oh and real estate doesn’t send you on all expense paid trips to Cannes or Sundance. On a positive note I have yet to see a real estate agent throw a computer at another agent — I saw this happen on more than one occasion while working in film.

Q: I’m looking to buy/sell/rent how do I contact you? Are you currently taking on more clients?
A: Either call me at 508.930.6232 or send an email to jheller@warrenRE.com – Yes, I am currently taking on more clients.

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