For those who didn’t hibernate, there’s no need to repeat what this historically snowy and bitter winter weather did in slowing down and almost stopping the city. But, oddly enough, what with moneyed foreign investors, and eager people seeking a new home ready for spring, unlike the MBTA, the real estate scene didn’t stop dead in its tracks this winter.
“Despite the record level of snowfall in Boston during the month of February, sales activity has been strong with some new listings receiving multiple offers in key neighborhoods,” says Brad Horner, who is Boston-based Raveis real estate group’s executive managing director. “The weather may have held a few new listings back, but the numbers are about the same today as a year ago with a few changes noted by neighborhood.”
Those key neighborhoods, which continue to command high prices, are the classic ones: Boston’s Back Bay, South End, and Waterfront areas, along with Cambridge, which is seeing ever-increasing highs in sales prices for its old mansions.
“In the luxury segment of the market,” Horner adds, “we are noticing an increase in Internet traffic with many buyers shopping from their second homes in Florida and abroad.” Lucky for some, but as demand for luxury condos rises, pricing in mid and low level housing rises, too.
The winter weather didn’t help with the lack of inventory and snow, ice, and record cold impacted construction schedules for many new buildings, slowing new properties coming onto the market this year. That’s good news for current sellers.
“For new developments currently on the market activity continues to be very strong,” Horner says. “Much like last year, supply is not meeting demand, prices are continuing to rise.
“Boston’s strong economy,” he continues, “changing demographics and the increasing desire to live close to work, public transportation, cultural offerings and social pursuits continue to drive the city’s real estate market. Numbers of sales are down slightly right now, only because there is not enough inventory to satisfy demand.”
All of this might sound like a nightmare for home buyers, but with mortgage interest rates still enticingly low, and rents not exactly alluring, buying remains a relatively stable financial investment.
“With interest rates at historic lows and rental rates increasing, the rent versus buy scenario is still favorable for many thinking about making a home purchase,” says Horner. “And these fundamentals will continue to drive the demand.”