High end million-dollar Boston homes for sale
Oct 2011 11

The high-end Boston condominium and single-family homes’ market has remained strong despite this grueling recession.

Using MLSPIN data provided and collected from third-party sources, I see that there were 242 condos and single-family homes sold during the past six months for more than $1 million. Of these, 72 were sold for more than $2 million, and eight for more than $5 million. Four homes sold for more than $8 million. A single-family home at 20 Louisburg Square sold for $11.5 million and a condominium in the Mandarin Oriental at 776 Boylston Street sold for $13.2 million (another sold for $12.2 million).

There are currently 287 homes for sale for more than $1 million. This includes 69 single-family homes and 218 condominiums. Of the 287 homes, 112 are priced at more than $2 million. Twenty-one are listed for more than $5 million. Six are priced at $10 million or more. Currently, there are two single-family homes listed for more than $15 million, This includes a $15.9 million listing at 15 Commonwealth Ave and a $23 million property at 306 Dartmouth Street, the Ames-Webster mansion.

Please contact me for more information on high-end condo and single-family home sales in Boston, to discuss ways in which I can help you as a buyer’s agent, and for advice on listing your high-end home for sale.

Above, 56 Beacon Street, listed at $12,500,000. Jeannemarie Conley of Otis & Ahearn is the listing agent.

Boston condos being bought with cash
Oct 2011 05

Jenifer McKim and Rona Fischman at the Boston Globe report on a recent phenomenon.

Generally, about ten percent of real estate transactions are paid with cash. This year, the average in Massachusetts for the first three quarters is forty percent. It is this change that piqued the interest of both the Boston Globe and WBUR.

And, further, WBUR’s Curt Nickisch says:

In some Massachusetts communities, more than half of home sales this year are have been paid with cold hard cash. Those communities include Provincetown, New Bedford and Cambridge.

Many people looking to purchase homes right now are doing so for specific reasons: they have an immediate need to own real estate – either because of a life change or because they need an investment. In Boston, many low-priced condos are purchased by parents for their children to live in while at college. This continues in good economic times as well as bad. As an investment, many people see less risk in real estate than in the stock and bond markets, if their plans are long-term.

Finally, many people buying these days are looking for second (and third) homes. Again, this happens in any economic climate. Percentage-wise, if not in raw numbers, it’s probably gone up, as the overall market sales volume has gone down by as much as 30% in some neighborhoods of Boston and in some cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

While tight credit guidelines might seem to be the reason, my guess is that this isn’t the overwhelming cause of cash buyers.

If you asked someone why he/she bought with cash, he/she would probably reply, “Because I could.”

Home prices up in metro Boston: Case-Shiller reports
Aug 2011 30

The Greater Boston metropolitan area saw a 2.4 percent gain in home prices in June, according to the latest Standard & Poors / Case-Shiller real estate index. Only Chicago and Minneapolis saw larger gains.

Although Boston-area home prices are down compared to June 2010, off by 2.1 percent, Case-Shiller estimates that prices in Boston are up 54 percent since January 2000.

The National Home Price Index increased by 3.6% in the second quarter of 2011, after having fallen 4.1% in the first quarter of 2011. With the second quarter’s data, the National Index recovered from its first quarter low, but still posted an annual decline of 5.9% versus the second quarter of 2010.

Nationally, home prices are back to their early 2003 levels.

Refinancing your home loan can save thousands in interest payments
Aug 2011 22

Dan Green, mortgage broker extraordinaire, does the analysis of mortgage rate changes since earlier this year to show how refinancing your home loan could save you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

As a homeowner, your “total cost of homeownership” is tied to your mortgage. The higher your mortgage rate, the more interest you pay over time. And regardless of your mortgage interest tax-deductibility, over 30 years, mortgage interest accrues into something fierce .

Lately, though, with mortgage rates down, those long-term interest costs have plunged.

- April 2011 : Over 30 years, a new $300,000 mortgage accrues $276,000 in interest
- August 2011 : Over 30 years, a new $300,000 mortgage accrues $227,000 in interest

Check out his site for more information and contact your local mortgage lender to learn more.

Proposal would lower mortgage rates to 4% for millions of homeowners
Aug 2011 18

Finally, something we can all agree on? :)

According to Scott Van Voorhis over at Boston.com, two Columbia Business School professors have a bold proposal for fixing the nation’s housing market problem and the US economy.

R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School, and Chris Mayer, a professor of finance and economics and the school’s senior vice dean, would like to refinance 30 million mortgages across the country down to a once unimaginable 4 percent.

Whoa.

You can only see their proposal as a theoretical one; there’s no way that this could come to pass. And, they’re not the first to come up with the idea. (Even I was talking about this exact thing, last weekend!)

There are great benefits to doing this. Mr. Van Voohris says the professors estimate it would free up $60 billion in cash that consumers would (hopefully) spend.

But, even if the majority put the difference in savings into savings, isn’t that a good thing?

The program would reward responsible owners, for once, so it would be mostly met with approval from the American public – and what politician could be against that??

Bond holders have always recognized that there is a risk that their loans will be called. That’s all that would happen here. The loans would be redeemed and replaced with loans at lower rates. Since no one’s done a complete analysis on this, it’s hard to know who this would affect and how.

(The US Government should be redeeming and reissuing all its long-term treasury debt anyway, btw.)

I don’t necessarily agree that housing in Greater Boston is “over-valued”; as a percentage of household income, taking out a $400k loan this year would cost you less than any time since at least 1990.

I agree; picking “losers” and “winners” shouldn’t be the job of the government. The free-market should decide.

People’s opinions on this idea probably vary based on whether or not they stand to gain.

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