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How Much are Retail Rents in Boston - January 2020 Update

Most retail rents in Boston are quoted in terms of rent per square foot per year.  For example, leasing a 1,000 SF space for $60/SF would mean the annual rent is $60,000 - or $5,000 per month.  Most retail leases in Boston are triple net (or NNN), meaning that the tenant also pays all or a portion of the real estate taxes and common area maintenance (CAM) for the building.
 

Market Rent for Retail Space ($/SF)

Source: CoStar, January 24, 2020


Boston's Back Bay, driven mainly by Newbury and Boylston Streets, is still the priciest neighborhood in Boston.  The average numbers shown above are just that - "averages" - and we see deals close above these levels on Newbury and Boylston Streets.  Overall, neighborhoods/areas have mainly all followed a similar cycle.  As the chart shows, retail rents in most areas are expected to level off and remain steady for the next few years.  

The "best" retail location for a business is not necessarily in the neighborhood offering the lowest rent.  It's great if the rent is lower than in other neighborhoods, but your sales must still be strong enough to support the rent (generally speaking, rents are lower in areas where most businesses expect sales to be lower due to various factors, such as foot traffic and daytime population).  As part of your site selection process, it is important to consider your target consumer(s) and determine whether you will be able to effective reach/serve them at the locations you are considering.  This is something we are happy to help you evaluate and consider - feel free to contact us to discuss.

Are you searching for retail space for lease in Boston?  You can start your search here.

 

 

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Why You Should Hire an Interior Designer

Deciding to hire an interior designer can not only increase the value of your home, but can also help you avoid some costly mistakes. Interior design is a crucial component when selling your home; it can boost buyer appeal, which can increase the value of your home.

If you’ve invested a good deal of money in your home, you will want to showcase it to look its best to prospective buyers. A designer offers a fresh set of eyes, trained to see things that you may not. In addition, professional designers have expertise in budgeting and planning, plus they bring an extensive list of resources for your renovation. They are invaluable in saving clients in time and headaches, identifying reliable contractors, plumbers, and electricians for their projects.

Lastly, a designer can offer you the “wow” factor. They can offer something outside of the box, that you would never think of, as a result of their trained eye and years of experience.

 

 

 

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First Look at Final 2019 Condo Sales Data

Happy New Year!  We are still digesting all of the data, but here is a quick look at how Boston’s condo market performed in 2019.  Looking at a sample of neighborhoods, average condo sales prices per square foot were slightly below 2018 levels in a number of them.  There are certainly areas that experienced growth - for instance, the average condo sale price per square foot in Jamaica Plain was up 2.5% in 2019.  At $536.38 per square foot, the average condo sale price in Jamaica Plain is still half as much as Beacon Hill ($1,212.32/SF), Back Bay ($1,247.61) and South End ($1,030.86).
 


Source: Based on data compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

 

The number of sale transactions was lower in many neighborhoods.  The number of condo sales in South Boston was down 14%, but South Boston still saw more sales than many other neighborhoods.
 


Source: Based on data compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

 

Check back with us!  We continuously review data to help identify trends and potential opportunities!

 

 

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Planning for a New Office in the New Year?

The end of the year is a time when many businesses start planning for the year to come. With 2020 almost upon us, here is a quick look at the market conditions in a number of Boston's most popular areas for office space. We organized them in the order that we typically receive questions from businesses that are curious about the Boston office market.
 

"How Much is the Rent?"

Office rent rates within and around Boston can vary quite significantly. Cambridge (particularly from Kendall Square through Harvard Square) and Back Bay continue to be the most expensive areas in Boston. The chart above shows the Financial District as one of the most expensive, but that is also somewhat misleading since it is by-far the largest area in terms of office inventory; there are some good deals that can be found in the Financial District and Midtown.
 

"Should My Company Rent or Buy Our Office Space?"

We do not get this question asked enough, but we do try to encourage businesses to consider whether buying is a viable option for businesses. Particularly when a business is looking for a long-term lease and/or they want to make substantial customizations to their workspace, owning rather than leasing can offer a substantial financial benefit. 
 

For a free consultation to evaluate your current office space and expected needs, please contact us.  

If you are ready to dive right in, you can start your search for office space for lease or your search for office space for sale.

 

 

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Jamaica Plain: Market Update

Jamaica Plain is one of the fastest growing real estate markets in Greater Boston. Diverse, vibrant, and centrally located, it is highly sought after among buyers - investors and owner occupants alike. JP is an easy commute for those working in the center of Boston, and is more affordable than neighborhoods like Back Bay or South End.

Based on data from MLS, over the past five years, the average condo sale price per square foot in Jamaica Plain has increased from $428.91 in 2015 to $543.90 in 2019. So far this year, the average condo sale price is closing at 101.79% of the asking price, compared to 103.79% of the asking price as of the same date in 2015. In other words, not only are the average sale prices per square foot higher, but also condos are still selling for "over asking".
 


Source: MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

 

Curious about what's on the market in Jamaica Plain?  Click here to start your search.

 

 

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Art in the House

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.
- Junot Diaz
 

Art enhances the home.

In today’s modern world, an environment adorned with art provides a quiet respite from the busyness of everyday life. Additionally, artwork has a huge impact on our moods and emotions and makes us feel calmer, happier, and inspired. It is cognitively proven that art in the home helps develop a child’s mental and social skills by boosting their ability to analyze and solve problems, improve motor skills and gain a sense of color. Studies show patients recovering from an operation have a faster recovery when surrounded by visual and audio artifacts (music) which uplift the human spirit and create positive energy. Art affects the fundamental sense of self and conveys a visual narrative about the life, childhood, family and interests of the owner.

From a design and value perspective, art is the best way to add personality, color and a focal point to a space. Interiors come alive with beautiful paintings, sculptures and photographs. The Penthouse at 89 Beacon Street, Beacon Hill is a great example of how a new construction condo with bare walls became a finished space with a beautiful balance, scale and texture. 

Galerie D’Orsay of Boston provided works of the masters including Picasso, Dali, Matisse  as well as contemporary artists Gove, Buist, Roblin and Zupan. The result is a gorgeous harmony of art, interior design and architecture which shows off the lifestyle of the home’s modern classic design, finishes and neighborhood.


Art turns a house into a home. It is an element of ourselves that we can project onto our walls and into our spaces.
- Ben Flyte, Galerie D’Orsay Boston 

 

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Buying a Condo as an Investment: How Many Bedrooms is Best?

For some real estate investors, residential condominiums are the preferred type of investment property.  Some benefits include that condos typically are less expensive than whole buildings and there are fewer management responsibilities because condo associations typically handle day-to-day operational issues like snow removal.

But, how many bedrooms is the ideal size to buy as an investment property?

As always, the answer is “it depends”.  Some investors take a philosophical approach – for instance, some investors prefer 3 bedroom apartments since there has been increasing willingness for co-living arrangements, particularly because it tends to be much cheaper for renters to live with roommates in Boston.  Others focus more on economics and might prefer the smallest possible units to try to maximize their rent per square foot.
 


Source: CoStar Multi-Family Market Report, Boston-MA, dated 11/12/2019



Source: CoStar Multi-Family Market Report, Boston-MA, dated 11/12/2019



Source: LINK Boston Quarterly Sales Summary, Third Quarter 2019, Citywide Report


The data shows that the ideal condo size for YOU will depend on your investment goals and criteria.  Larger apartments (2-3 bedrooms) have shown a lower vacancy rate than smaller apartments over the past few years.  Rents are higher for larger apartments as well, but of course purchase prices and expenses will be higher.

If you have questions about buying a condo as an investment, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We would be happy to share more specific market reports and data.  We also provide free consultations to real estate investors to review investment goals and when ready, help find the best opportunities for you!

 

 

Boston Bound Student? It's College Tour Season!

Guest Blogger: Nathan Hartseil of First Home Mortgage

Got a College Student in Boston?
Rent costs have you doing a double take?
What if you bought a condo instead?

Many folks are incredulous when I tell them that they are able to purchase a single unit (condo, townhouse, single family) residence for their child here in Boston at the same “market best” terms that they might get themselves – and that these loans are available with as little as 3.5% down, up to the generous local limit of $688,850 (as of this writing, October 2019).

Perhaps your student works, but doesn’t make enough to support the unit on their own?

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration all allow a parent to “cosign” the mortgage – combining the income, assets, and qualifiers of both the student and the parent or family member on the mortgage application.

Perhaps your student is just starting out on their own, and you plan to visit often? Purchasing a “second” or “occasional” home in Boston, even without their help -  just 10% down assures that your student has a place to call home, and that you will always be able visit.

As long as your student (or parent, or disabled relative of any age) occupies the home as their primary residence for 1 full year, there are no restrictions (on the mortgage side) on roommates, future rentals, or any other customary uses…. A property that serves as a college home base can easily be converted to an income producing investment upon graduation.

What might this look like?

As of this publication, 30 year fixed rates are in the 3s-4s.  A 3-bedroom condo directly on the Green Line off student centric Commonwealth Avenue is currently available for $500,000.  Presuming a 760 credit score and a 5% down payment, Apr 4.05%:

Principal and interest: $2,268
Property Taxes: $268*
Condo Fees: $340
Mortgage Insurance: $100
Homeowner’s Insurance: $50-100

Total monthly expense: Around $3000

(*Boston also offers discounted taxes to primary residents, which will further reduce this expense by about $200, under the Property Tax Exemption Personal Exemption.)

With 2 paying roommates, your student’s expenses on monthly housing could be substantially reduced, while building equity to realize upon graduation.  If Boston’s popularity and average rents are any indication, holding the property as a rental could prove lucrative as well.

Ready to dive in to a search? Click here to get started. Or contact Cabot & Company to connect with an experienced agent to help guide you.

 

This is not a commitment to lend. Terms and conditions of programs, products and services are subject to change. All loans are subject to credit approval and property appraisal. Certain restrictions may apply on all programs. NOT ACCEPTING NEW YORK APPLICATIONS. First Home Mortgage Corporation of America, First Home Mortgage Services, Maryland First Home Mortgage Company, and First Home Mortgage Company of Maryland are d/b/a's of First Home Mortgage Corporation. First Home Mortgage Corporation is licensed in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts Mortgage Lender and Broker (Lic. #MC71603), Michigan, Licensed by the New Hampshire Banking Department, Licensed by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Licensed Lender and Broker, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia. Equal Housing Lender. First Home Mortgage Corporation.

 

Advantages of Working with a Buyer's Agent

We are sometimes asked: Do I really need a buyer’s agent, or can I make an offer on a property on my own?  Certainly, it is possible to buy a home without the help of a buyer’s agent.  However, there are a number of advantages in working with an experienced agent.  Here are some reasons to work with a buyer’s agent:  

1. It’s Free For Buyers. Except in a few, very limited circumstances, the buyer’s agent’s commission in the Boston area is paid by the seller or seller’s agent.    

2. Buyers Get Representation. The seller’s agent represents the seller, and it is their obligation to act in the best interests of the seller.  Having a buyer’s agent ensures you have an experienced professional on your team to look out for YOUR best interests.

3. Market Data. A buyer’s agent can educate you on local market trends.  Buying a home represents a substantial investment – it is important to know about the market/area you are buying into.

4. Make Searching for Property Easy.  When working with a buyer’s agent, there’s no need to scroll through endless websites looking at properties that are no longer available.  A buyer’s agent can create a custom MLS (Multiple Listing Service) search tailored to your search criteria, so you can be notified as soon as new properties come on market. 

5. Help with Paperwork.  There are a number of forms and documents involved in purchasing a home.  A buyer’s agent will help you navigate through them.

6. Price Analysis. You want to make an offer, but is the property over-priced, underpriced or priced right in line with the market?  Your agent will create a comprehensive market analysis based on similar properties that have been sold, to help you determine what price to offer.  A seller’s agent is obligated to get their client (the seller) the highest possible price; again, it is important to have a professional looking out for your interests.

7. Negotiations. The purchase price is just one component of an offer.  A buyer’s agent will help guide you on the other terms that make up an offer, such as inspection contingencies, mortgage contingencies and timing – careful consideration of all offer terms help make sure your offer is as strong as possible. If issues come up during the purchase process (such as property defects identified during a home inspection), your buyer’s agent can also help negotiate for appropriate concessions from the seller.

8. Support throughout the Transaction. An experienced buyer’s agent can help make introductions to other industry professionals that may be necessary throughout the purchase process, such as lenders, attorneys, home inspectors and insurance agents.  Additionally, your agent will keep you apprised of upcoming deadlines and communicate with the involved parties to help keep your purchase on a smooth path towards closing.
 

If you would like to be connected with one of our experienced buyer’s agents, please contact us here.  

Just getting started with the home-buying process?  Feel free to start your search here.

 

 

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What are Current Cap Rates for Boston Multifamily Investment Property?

One of the metrics used by real estate investors to evaluate investment opportunities is called the capitalization rate (or cap rate).  The formula is basically the net annual income divided by the purchase price.  Cap rates do not take mortgages into account – since different investors receive differing financing terms, the cap rate is a quick metric to evaluate an opportunity on a level playing field.

 

The chart above shows multifamily cap rate trends over the past 10 years, and includes forecasts for the next five.  Boston has maintained a lower cap rate than the national average and is projected to maintain that spread in the coming years.  A lower cap rate means that investors are willing to accept a lower return on their investment, so investors will pay more for multifamilies in Boston because they view it as a stronger investment.

This article is focused on multifamily investment property – cap rates for other property types (e.g. retail and office) are different, and each property type has its own set of risks and rewards to consider.  If you are interested in more market data or have questions about investment property in Boston, please reach out to us.