Dorchester

Tuesday Tip - The 4 Boston Neighborhoods Smart Real Estate Investors Should Check Out Now

If you’re from the Boston area, you likely remember a time not long ago, when towns like Somerville and Brighton were where college students with 3 digit bank accounts moved the day after they graduated.  While there were pockets of prosperity, the more affluent home buyer frequently chose Cambridge instead of Somerville, and Newton instead of Brighton.  But times, they have a-changed, and the savvy investors and homebuyers who recognized the potential of these areas are seeing enormous returns on their investments.  In Somerville, for example, the average home value is 56% more than what it was just 6 years ago (source: Zillow).  But while the market here is still very healthy, the percentages at which home values are forecasted to increase next year is almost half that of last year.  In other words, Somerville and neighborhoods like it - Brighton, Southie, Jamaica Plain, etc. - have blossomed in the last 10 years, capturing the attention, and investment capital, of every buyer within 50 miles of Boston.  Don’t get us wrong, these neighborhoods are still great places to live, but they aren’t your best investment options as they aren’t likely to see another dramatic spike in home value for some time.

So, which towns will be next to see a surge of Somerville proportions?  Likely it will be areas adjacent to those that have experienced recent booms, as they will start to see an influx of home buyers that weren’t able to afford the areas more popular neighborhoods and towns.  Naturally, the increase in buyers will have a direct impact on demand, and as home values begin to increase, so will taxes, which will mean more funds to contribute to the betterment, and appeal, of the town. 

With that in mind, here are four communities we think you should check out if you’re looking for a smart Boston real estate investment:

Medford

Photo credit: http://www.city-data.com

At 3.2 miles northwest of downtown Boston, this Somerville neighbor boasts optimal proximity to Boston.  And though it’s already a very accessible city, if the Green Line Extension is approved by the Federal Transit Administration, Medford could be an ideal option for commuters.  Home to Tufts University, Medford has a strong focus on academics for students of all ages, making it attractive to home buyers looking for a place to raise a family.  The city is investing in new housing opportunities as well as the growth of businesses and the preservation of environmental open space for the community to enjoy.  At $463,000, Medford’s median single-family home price is nearly 35% less than that of Somerville (source: Zillow). 

Roxbury

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org

At the geographic heart of Boston, Roxbury is appealing to home buyers looking for a lively neighborhood in the beginning stages of a great revival.  Like it’s more expensive neighbors Jamaica Plain and Dorchester, Roxbury is a place that celebrates diversity and culture.  And with over 570 acres of parks, playgrounds and athletic fields (23% of park space in Boston and the most in any one neighborhood in the city), Roxbury has been an attractive option for families with children.  At $305,500, Roxbury has the lowest median single-family price on our list (source: Zillow).  It’s affordability coupled with new business and housing initiatives make it a great option for buyers who are looking for the significant return of a long-term investment. 

Dorchester

 Photo credit: boston.curbed.com

If you follow Boston real estate even a little, this one comes as no surprise.  Though, according to Zillow Dorchester’s 1-year growth forecast for home values is quite a bit lower than last year’s, there’s no doubt that the surge of residential and retail construction, supported by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, is going to have a major impact on the popularity of the area.  With 28 residential projects in various stages of development, including the hyped Dot Block which will feature 388,440 square feet of residential and retail space, the median single-family home price of $423,300 (source: Zillow) will likely see a significant increase over the next decade. 

East Boston

Photo credit: bostonredevelopmentauthority.org 

For buyers who want waterfront living but don’t want to pay Charlestown prices, East Boston is a smart choice.  While Charlestown is a lovely place to live, dine, and boat watch, the median single-family home price is $655,000 (source: Zillow), while East Boston’s is significantly lower (though not for long) at $387,000 (source: Zillow).  Like Dorchester, Eastie is well into it’s transition into one of Boston’s more desirable neighborhoods, but will be even more so upon completion of a record-setting number of new developments, including Portside at East Pier with some 550 units, 6 New Street with 259 units and Clippership Wharf, which is slated to have 400 condos and a large amount of retail space.  Eastie has more to offer than waterfront properties with some of the best views of the Boston skyline, it also has remarkable and affordable ethnic cuisine, beach access by way of a beautiful new greenway, and very close proximity to Logan Airport.  But hurry, the appeal of East Boston is one of the cities worst kept secrets.


Greater Boston Real Estate ROI

The Boston real estate market has experienced a plunge in affordability over the last several years.  According to Boston.com, the number of listings in Boston that are affordable for middle-income buyers is now just 20% of all the homes and condos on the market, having fallen by more than half since January 2014, when that number was 42%.  While this statistic works in favor of those who purchased in 2009 and 2010, it’s discouraging for buyers and investors who are constrained by limited (limited being a relative term here) budgets.  Luckily, forward thinking developers and city officials have taken a broader look at Greater Boston and surrounding towns, and have identified several areas primed for growth and development. It’s in these towns and neighborhoods that middle-income buyers and savvy investors will find good deals, great communities and exceptional return on their investment. 

Reasons to Consider January 1st Rentals

2014 is upon us, and with it comes numerous lease openings in the Boston area. While people may find many reasons not to rent, but in today's day and age renting is something that should considered for the New Year. Below the Newbury Rentals team has come up with some reasons to consider rentals on January 1st.

More financially safe than owning a home

The economy has greatly influenced the housing market, and now is a better time than ever to rent. One of the largest costs avoided when renting is the mortgage. Not only is the cost of a mortgage avoided, but also the stress of large payments or having to remortgage. Other big costs avoided are property taxes, Homeowners Associate fees (doesn't apply to all), and homeowners insurance.

In addition, when renting you avoid the responsibilities of buying or selling a home. Another upside to renting is that it allows for people to save up money, pay off loans, and spend money elsewhere. In some cases renters today are renting more than one home allowing for them to have a vacation spot.

Access to urban conveniences

The majority of rentals are found in urban areas, which usually means everything is in a mile. Many necessities are within walking distances in urban areas. Not only are there numerous stores within a close proximity, but also many stores in cities cannot be found in suburban areas.

Some rentals have luxuries

Many luxury buildings and apartment complexes offer a pool, gym, and other amenities. It can come in handy especially in the cold winter months when any imaginable luxury is accessible right in your own building.

Less upkeep

There is far less upkeep involved when renting. Someone else does all the repairs when renting, a landlord or someone they hire will take care of repairs and replacements. When something breaks and it's in the contract that the landlord will fix it, then they are required to do so.

Social scene

When more than one tenant are living under the same roof, rentals themselves become great places for a social life. Rentals in urban areas are also close to some of the best nightlife spots, including bars, clubs, and restaurants.

For more information on rentals, feel free to message our Rental Agents directly at our new rentals Facebook page, Newbury Rentals or check out our site!

Sources:

10 Reasons To...

Top 10 Reasons to Rent Rather Than Own

6 Reasons to Rent

How to Get Your Home Ready for Winter in Boston

Whether this is your first Boston winter in the new apartment or just looking to battle the challenges of living in the city during gargantuan snow storms, we are here to give you some tips on how to make it through:

Mind the Thermostat

Yes, we know that this is the #1 word of advice from any Bostonian, and there is a reason for it.  Not only is it super energy and cost efficient to keep your heat on low when you are out of the house, but also it's just as important to get your thermostat checked out!  It's good to double check that the batteries and the thermostat itself are working properly before the real snow begins.

Beware of the Draft

Double checking that the windows lock properly and weatherstripping all windows and doors are two quick ways to combat the cold winter air.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cold air drafts can waste anywhere from 30% to 5% of your energy use. Rolling up towels are a quick DIY way to weatherstrip any problem doors.

Schedule an Energy Audit

Have one of the experts handle it and inspect your home to help you cut costs on your winter heating bills.  Whether you live in an apartment or a condominium, you can have your landlord contact National Grid to inspect your home and provide a full report on how to make your home more energy efficient.

Stock Up on the Basics

Flashlights, batteries, and your ice-melt solution of choice are all handy items to stock up on in the Boston weather.  It's always better to be prepared with these items on hand then to have to trek through snow banks in Back Bay for any last minute necessities.

Always Have a Backup Plan

Parking in Boston can be a nightmare on a day to day basis, then throw in a New England Blizzard and things can get really interesting.  Always be sure to have a back-up plan about where to park in case your parking spot is ever the home to a snowbank. You can talk with your landlord or surrounding parking garages about back up options.

Protect Your Floors

Even gleaming hardwood floors can take a toll from the harsh New England Winter. Take any old tray and fill it with pebbles and rocks to create a stylish and mess free place to put your winter boots to dry.

For more tips and tricks on how to make it through a legendary Boston winter, feel free to reach out to our agents about life in the city!

Sources

Winterize Your Home

24 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Preparing Your Home For Winter

We've already has some cold days this year! Even though it has warmed back up a bit (I promise you that this is only temporary), I can assure you that winter is coming. However, it is not too late to take some steps to prep your home for the cold months ahead.

1. Give your boiler a check up

Whether you like it or not, your heat is going to get turned on soon (if it hasn't been already). It's a good idea to get your boiler tuned up. It could add years to its lifespan! If nothing else, the filter should be changed between cooling and heating, which is not a difficult task!

2. Inspect chimneys!

Now is the time! Do not wait to have them inspected or cleaned if you use your fire place regularly throughout the winter.

3. Weatherstripping

If you're like me and live in an old building in Boston, you can actually feel the cold air blowing into your home from underneath doors and around windows. Get some floor snakes to go under your doors, and purchase some products to seal up your windows. Not only will you save money on heating, but you'll be so much more comfortable when it starts getting really cold!

4. Prevent ice damns on your roof!

"Seal air leaks. Shutting down air leakage is probably going to have the biggest effect, and it's the kind of thing you can do incrementally. The second would be adding insulation. If you have R18 insulation value, turn it into R36. This is where your energy audit will be helpful. And the third is making sure your roof is vented properly, if your house is designed to have a vented roof. Make sure your soffit vents aren't blocked, your gable vents are open." (Source)

5. Order a home energy audit

If you've been putting this off, now is the time to do it. They use an infrared gun to monitor heat leakage, and the process is so much more successful when it's cold outside. The results could help you save money and stay warmer this winter!

6. Prepare an emergency kit

Collect a flashlight, batteries, matches, food and water in case of an emergency. Also, collect the phone numbers of your local utility companies and tape them somewhere safe!

Let us know if you have any other suggestions to keep everything and everyone safe this winter!

Source

Source

Hurricane Irene Hits Home

This photo, submitted to Boston.com by John Harrington, in evidence that Irene was very present in the Back Bay. I hope that everyone who has been affected by the hurricane is recovering well. The first death in Massachusetts caused by the storm was reported this morning. Our thoughts go out to his family. It will be a team effort to recover from the storm, but after a disaster like this we can rebuild. Please share your hurricane stories with us, we'd love to hear them.

Bike-Sharing in Boston

I was walking to the bank this morning past Government Center, and was astonished to see rows and rows of brand new New Balance bikes parked outside of City Hall. It was certainly a curious sight to see, so I made a mental note to look it up when I got home. Apparently, I am just behind the times because residents of Boston have been excited for some time now about the new bike-sharing initiative that has reached our city.

Officially launching today, the bike-sharing program makes it so that members can take rides around the city from one of the 61 stations around town. "Of the bike stations, about 18 will be in the the Back Bay and Fenway-Kenmore, with four around the Boston University campus and Kenmore Square, stations near Fenway Park, Northeastern University, and Colleges of the Fenway, and Back Bay stations ranging from the Newbury Street to the Boston Public Library. Bikes will also be available at three Beacon Hill stations: on Cambridge Street at Blossom Street; at the Charles Circle footbridge, and on Beacon Street at Brimmer Street." (source).

However, the Beacon Hill locations are not set in stone just yet. Regardless though, the city seems to be exited about bike-sharing. How do you feel about it?

Navagating Boston's Rental Market

The vacancy rate in rental units is down lower than it has been in the Boston area since the end of 2002.

"Boston-area rents are hitting new heights - with the median price recently reaching $1,665 a month" (source). Perspective-tenants are scrambling to find affordable places for September 1st. We hear stories of some landlords taking advantage of the desperation and hiking up rents, and of others requiring extreme items from possible renters in order to consider them.

Here are some tips to navigating this tough rental market:

1. Work with a rental agent.

While it means sometimes paying a fee (typically one month's rent), working with one agent who can scour MLS and exclusive rental listings that are not on Craigslist will very  be helpful to you. Plus good rental agents have relationships with landlords, and if you have them to back you up as a good fit for the unit, then you stand a much better chance of getting it! A good rental agent can also help you understand your lease, etc. and walk you through the complicated process of renting an apartment in Boston.

2. If you do want to do it on your own...

Search the listings by owner on Craigslist. If you can get a floor in a single family, you could save a lot of money, and a lot of headaches if your landlord shares a wall with you. If Craigslist comes up short, go to the area you're wanting to live in and look for "for rent" signs in the windows. Just because it's not online, doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist.

It's hard out there, but perseverance and sacrifices are necessary if you want to find the perfect rental unit for September! Good Luck!

Southie is not the Same

Much has changed since Whitey Bulger left Southie. Boston.com says that he "would hardly recognize the neighborhood where he grew up." It's true. The gentrification of the neighborhood is occurring quickly. While it is still sometimes regarded as the most dangerous or inexpensive place to live in Boston, it is quickly changing. It now hosts cute boutiques and some seriously expensive real estate. For example, Broadway used to be home to this:

The site made famous thanks to The Departed and infamous for being a cover for Whitey Bulgar's many "paybacks," used to set the tone for a crime-ridden area that now, some 15 years later is home to this:

This is the newest addition to the area: Local 149. South Boston is certainly in the process of undergoing some changes and from what I've read, many people believe it's for the better. How do you feel? Do you think that Southie is loosing its roots?

(photos are from Boston.com)

Renting?

Are you renting?

It's the time of year when students are busy finding rentals for the fall, and as the apartment search continues, keep in mind that drab walls and boring spaces are easily remedied!

Here is a list of 5 simple things that you can do to improve your space as a renter, that you might even be able to take with you when you move.

1. Don't be afraid of a little color!

Most places will let you paint the walls of where you're renting. Paint is inexpensive, and if you just devote a day to changing a wall from cream to blue or red the difference will be astounding. If you're limited on natural light or your space is small (aka most rental units in Boston) then avoid dark colors. On a paint swatch, chose on of the top three shades. Trust me, they may look too light on the sample, but on your wall, it will be just fine.

Other ways to incorporate color are awesome area rugs! Urban Outfitters has great ones for inexpensive prices. Throw pillows, shower curtains, decorative vases (or recycled bottles with nice flowers), fun lamps and for a little more money... a statement chair or sofa! Adding a splash of color to a sea of neutrals is so key.

2. Hang things up!

It's amazing what thumbtacks can do. Anything from cool bedsheets to scarves can be used to jazz up your space. If your landlord doesn't want you to paint then this is ideal.

3. Turn on some lights!

Especially if it is a garden level, or doesn't have a lot of light, definitely put in as many light sources as possible. You might have to get creative if you have a limited number of outlets, but extension cords and power strips are simple to hide. Plus, then you get to play with lamp shades and cool lighting units. Definitely get creative here!

4. Mirrors are your best friend!

Nothing opens up a space like mirrors! Mirrors of all shapes and sizes are so crucial. In my apartment, we have a big mirror above the TV and a floor to ceiling mirror by the door, a vanity sized mirror on our bookshelf and a round mirror above our table. That's 4 big mirrors in a small Beacon Hill living room, and I cannot tell you how much it opens up our space! Get creative with painting the frames of the mirrors. If your on a budget, second hand mirrors from garage and estate sales can be easily repainted to fit your space. Just be sure you put newspaper down on your floor before you get down and dirty with your painting project!

5. Change your knobs!

Cabinet pulls, door knobs and fan pulls are often little forgotten details that could easily wake a space up. Anthro is one of my favorite places to look for fun things like this, but just a simple change in the kitchen such as cabinet pulls will provide a wonderful change in look and feel.

I hope this helps! And happy apartment hunting Boston!!

(inspiration: http://on-msn.com/hGBLEG)

Marathon Monday

Boston's favorite day is finally less than a week away! Boston closes its roads to hundreds of runners on a Monday in late April every year. The traditions surrounding the race are huge in the city, and locals find anyway they can to get downtown to mingle with their friends and cheer on the runners. It is an inspiring event! This year, the 18th of April, Boston will welcome once again marathoners from all over the world for the 115th time. The route, a 26.6 mile tour of the Boston area, is scared.

One of my favorite Boston bloggers has outlined some excellent spectator tips for marathon day including how to get around (driving & parking vs public transportation), where to watch, where to eat or grab a beer, what to wear and more! That can be found here: http://carrotsncake.com/2011/04/spectator-tips-for-the-boston-marathon.html

What are your favorite Marathon Monday stories? I always enjoyed not having class on that day, getting up with my college roommates, taking the camera to go cheer on the runners and stopping to pose with the statues on the Comm Ave mall. We have pictures of us there every year, it has become our tradition! What are yours?