Is your real estate development vision 20/20? How many buildings do you see in this picture?

Is your real estate development vision 20/20? How many buildings do you see in this picture? Answer on next page.

How many times have you heard that there’s nowhere to build in Boston? Well, don’t tell that to Tom O’Brien. Where you see a brutally ugly garage, his development team at HYM Investment Group, LLC sees six beautiful new buildings standing 60 to nearly 600 feet high; housing 755 apartments, 196 hotel rooms, 57 condominiums, 1.15 million square feet of office space, 82,500 square feet of retail and hiding approximately half of the existing ugly garage. The project will also create an attractive plaza-style public space.

Phase 1 of the project, a 480 foot high apartment building, is planned to begin construction by the end of the year. 

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Converse's future corporate headquarters, as it appears today.

Converse’s future corporate headquarters, as it appears today.

In January 2013, the $24 billion subsidiary of Nike, Converse, announced that it was planning to move its corporate headquarters from Andover, MA,  to a building being developed by Related Beal on Lovejoy Wharf in Boston, just a stone’s throw from TD Garden and North Station.

The 187,000 square foot structure is symbolic of the trends of a new Boston, a Boston in which entire neighborhoods are in the midst of being redefined by new buildings and developments that attract folks near and far with opportunities to live, work and play in the same area.

The Converse sign, which adorned the top of 160 North Washington last December, is one of the tangible beginnings of that new Boston. 

To see how the development will look when it’s done, go to the next page. 

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When I told the Boston Herald about the lack of modestly priced inventory and the bidding wars it was provoking, it provoked two stories and this photograph of me.

When I told the Boston Herald about the lack of modestly priced inventory and the bidding wars it was provoking, it provoked two stories and this photograph of me.

Around 11 AM, Tuesday, I pitched the Boston Herald to do a story based on my post “Good-Bye Modestly Priced Hub Condos.” It took them only three hours to tell me they were going with it. The story ran yesterday.

The Herald had some interesting numbers from the Greater Boston Real Estate Board which showed that on March 10, 2010, 62.4% of Boston’s listings were listed under $500K, but on that date in 2014 only 42% were priced less than $500K.

The market background information I provided to Marie Szaniszlo, about how the lack of inventory everywhere was fueling bidding wars, led to a second Herald story.

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The sales pace of the Hub condo  market is so fast, we need some new categories to describe it.

The sales pace of the Hub condo market is so fast, we need some new categories to describe it.

My featured column on Curbed this week discussed the incredibly fast absorption rate of Hub condos.

In the past, the absorption rate in a market where sellers held most of the negotiating cards might mean that the entire available inventory could be sold in two to three months. Despite a particularly challenging winter to do business, comparing the current speed of absorption in several of the Hub’s better condo markets to year’s past, is like comparing the download speed of  FIOS to a dial-up modem. Today, newly marketed condominiums are absorbed so fast  that I had to come up with the additional absorption categories of OMG and WTF to describe it. Why is the entire city of Boston in OMG mode? Why do I say that Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain and the South End are on WTF paces? Check out my featured column and find out. 

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The Hub is losing massive amounts of modestly priced condo inventory.

The Hub is losing massive amounts of modestly priced condo inventory.

My recent post concerned the precipitous decline of modestly priced condos in the Hub. 

Check out these graphs (below) that chart the amount of modestly priced inventory in a variety of Hub neighborhoods over the last eight years. This timeline covers part of one of the greatest run up in values in local real estate history, the housing market crash, and the Boston real estate rebound. Yet, you will quickly notice that the charts I made look like repeated and feeble attempts to draw ski slopes. 

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Under $500K ListingsIt wasn’t too long ago that you could find a reasonably priced condo in the Hub, that is if you consider anything under $500K reasonable. But looking at today’s “For Sale” inventory, I’d say somebody should call the World Wild Life Fund because that Hub price point is an endangered species.

Starting with the city of Boston, for every condo listed under $500K today, there were at least five on market just three years ago (3/5/11). In the nine markets I cover most*, however, the depletion of moderately priced inventory is even worse. For every $500K or less listed condo that is on market today, there were more than eight on market three years ago.

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The development on Dalton  Street in Boston.

The development on Dalton Street in Boston.

A standing-room-only crowd packed NAIOP’s “Big is Back” presentation this past Wednesday. The crowd listened as a four-member panel of development pros, intimately involved in several of Boston’s most ambitious and complex development projects, discussed the projects and the current state of the market.  

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Merrill Diamond is developing this building on Com Ave in Brighton

Merrill Diamond is developing this building on Com Ave in Brighton

Here’s a Hub real estate investment theory for you: The more you like to invest in Allston-Brighton, the less you’re going to like to invest in the Seaport. Why? The Seaport is about as opposite of Allston-Brighton as a construct out of Bizarro World. While Allston-Brighton is established, easily accessible by the T, affordable, and appointed in such a way that a new Jacobean building looks right in place, the Seaport is brand new, ultra expensive, a challenge to get to by T, and a place where a Jacobean building might look like a sore thumb.

Doubt me?

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If it’s a little too cold for you today, then you might want to stand by the South End condominium market. That market that is so hot, you’ll think you’re on the Equator.  

This condo on Gray Street in the South End sold fast!

This condo on Gray Street in the South End sold fast!

According to my breakdown of 2013 MLS data, the South End sold an impressive 583 condominiums, up from 547 in 2012, and the most since 610 sold in 2007.  Making the transaction total all the more impressive is that there were only 669 listings last year for buyers to choose from while in 2007 there were 893 to pick amongst. This is a clear indication that 2013 buyers were committed location, location, location when choosing their next home.

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 And the five nominees for best real estate scene in a movie or a television show are….

#5 – Step Brothers – Will Ferrell + Anything = Hilarity, so when Will Ferrell and his step brother John C. Reilly scheme to sabotage the marketing of their parents home, it’s hilarious.

 (To see the other four, click “Continue reading”)

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