Last month it was reported that the 2018 National Housing Forecast indicated promising news for both buyers and sellers in the year ahead. When looking to purchase or sell a home in this current market, there are various timely facts to consider:
1. Low interest rates
The standard 30-year mortgage currently hovers at just above 4%, which is still historically low.
Realtor.com® reports that rates are projected to steadily climb by the end of 2018.
2. Demand remains high with tight inventory
It’s still a seller’s market in many parts of the country with Realtor.com reporting that unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is the lowest level since the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) began tracking in 1999. It’s not surprising then that anxious home buyers are driving-up prices in demand for housing.
3. Steadily increasing home prices
Realtor.com states that median existing-home prices for all housing types in December was up 5.8 percent from December 2016. The price increase marks the 70th straight month of year-over-year gains. For home buyers sitting on the fence, perhaps it’s time to jump-in before prices and interest rates possibly make entering the market more challenging. Home buyers should come prepared with pre-approved financing and the ability to make a quick purchase decision.
4. Consumer confidence is high
Consumer confidence hit its highest in 17 years this past November, according to the Conference Board’s index released last month. This is a result of low unemployment and stock market spikes that are anticipated to continue strengthening the economic foundation in 2018.
Market Action Reports – Boston and surrounding suburbs
Boston Magazine through a system of analytics, annually ranks all the 155 High Schools within the 495 belt. Small class sizes, lower Student / Teacher ratios, and a strong sports program are weighted more heavily. Boston Magazine shares these rankings each year in their September issue. The complete 2016 ranking is attached here.
The 2016 Top Schools list is fairly consistent with 2015 Top Ten. Westborough and Concord / Carlisle fell out of the top 10, while Acton/Boxborough and Winchester found their elite spots.
Our top 10 towns continue to offer a wide range of Single Family Average Selling Price (ASP) as well as commuting times. The real estate mantra of “Location, Location, Location” definitely applies here when considering ASP vs. commute times for our Top 10.
When choosing a town, schools are key. But other important factors such as housing affordability and commute times should also be considered. It’s no surprise communities closer to downtown Boston have more public transportation options (Newton, Winchester), offering both commuter rail and bus options with a smaller drive times as well. Towns farther out; Dover, Boxborough, Harvard, etc. have much longer commute times, and often only by car. However, home affordability is much easier on the bank account. Additionally, the farther you live from Boston, the more land you tend to get with a home. All these factors are important when deciding towns you’d like to pursue.
There are several towns sharing a High School. There are two examples on the Boston Magazine list; Dover/Sherborn and Acton/Boxborough. Other examples of shared schools: Concord/Carlisle and Lincoln/Sudbury. Often the sharing towns have very different feels and ASP’s.
Concord has a very dynamic town center (actually 2 centers……Concord and the up and coming “West Concord” home of the newest hot spot, a Farm to Table restaurant, Woods Hill Table …Plan ahead, the choice times are often not available) with artisanal “mom and pop shops”.
Carlisle typically has a 2 acre minimum and is fairly wooded. No public transportation of any kind, other than a school bus! Carlisle is a town with a single store, “Fern’s”. A one stop shop, providing a decent deli and wine assortment. Also good for last minute bread, eggs, and milk!
Boston Magazine HS Ranking
Average 2016 Sales Price of a Single-Family Home
Average Commute time to DT Boston
Public Transportation Option
Bus to Alewife
Train / Bus
Bus to Alewife
Train / Bus
I’ve only indicated whether there are train or bus stops actually within a specific community. There are commuter options for many of the above if you’re willing to drive to an adjacent town. For example, Bedford residents can drive to nearby Concord to take the train/Commuter Rail into Boston. Boxborough residents can drive to either the Littleton or Acton station, etc. Please visit MBTA Map & Schedules for additional information.
Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.
Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, full of memories and cherished belongings. We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re looking at. However, please stop to consider how the places you’re considering would shape your social relationships within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting. People focus on a home that’s a certain size or style, ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family. That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!
Also – when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want. When you’re thinking about a house, think about the furnishings at the same time.
Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale, wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.
He found most home buyers have very high long term price expectations. This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement. Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!
Boston Magazine publishes their “Best Public School Districts: every September, ranking the 125 public school districts located within the 495 belt.
With a lower average class sizes (14.8) along with top SAT and MCAS scores and a healthy expenditure/pupil (8th of the top 50), Bedford ranks #5, outperforming most of it’s neighbors.
Interestingly, Bedford is also the most AFFORDABLE of the towns in the top 6! With an average single family sales price of only $797,189 it makes the cost of a good education much more palatable. Bedford median family income is $119,200
Additionally, Bedford is one of only 2 schools in this elite group to offer foreign language prior to Middle School. Beginning in 3rd grade, Bedford students take French or Spanish and can continue until they graduate. That’s NINE solid years of learning the language and culture of another country before going off to college. ( Weston offers Spanish from 1st grade, but if you’re interested in Latin, French, or Mandarin, you’ll need to wait until 7th grade). Our mobile globalized world increasingly demands flexibility and appreciation of differences. Learning another language reinforces this, the earlier the better! Please review the link below –
Dover/Sherborn public schools were ranked #1 by Boston Magaizne, #16 in the nation by Newsweek and #9 by US News & World report. Foreign languages start in the 6th grade, Latin, French, and Spanish.
Dover, with a median family income of $168,443 is one of the most affluent towns in the state.
Weston boasts a a median household income of $155,400.
The housing market in Weston will end the year up nicely with a 7% increase in average sales price. Units should end around 138, down 6% from last year.
Lexington offers French, Spanish, and Mandarin beginning in 6th grade.
The Lexington housing market was basically flat for the spring. Year end should show a very slight uptick over the $1,137,499 shown here, with 380 Lexington homes sold by year end, a unit increase of 5%. Median family income of approximately $140,000.
Wayland kids can take French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish beginning in 7th grade.
Wayland boasts a medium family income of $131,000./
WASHINGTON (November 29, 2012) – Pending home sales rose strongly in October with mixed regional results, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 5.2 percent to 104.8 in October from an upwardly revised 99.6 in September and is 13.2 percent above October 2011 when it was 92.6. The data reflect contracts but not closings.
Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said buyers are responding to favorable market conditions. “We’ve had very good housing affordability conditions for quite some time, but we’re seeing more impact now from steady job creation, and rising consumer confidence about home buying now that home prices have clearly turned positive.”
Outside of a few spikes during the tax credit period, pending home sales are at the highest level since March 2007 when the index also reached 104.8. On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales have risen for 18 consecutive months.
Yun noted there are clear regional patterns. “Contract activity surged in the Midwest and is showing very healthy gains in the South, but was down slightly in both the Northeast and West,” he said.
“The Northeast saw some impact from Hurricane Sandy, but limited inventory in the West is keeping a lid on the market. All regions are up from a year ago, with double-digit gains in every region but the West,” Yun said.
The PHSI in the Northeast slipped 0.1 percent to 79.2 in October but is 13.3 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 15.6 percent to 104.4 in October and is 20.0 percent above October 2011. Pending home sales in the South rose 5.5 percent to an index of 117.3 in October and are 17.4 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index declined 1.1 percent in October to 105.7, but is 0.9 percent above October 2011.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.
An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales; it coincides with a level that is historically healthy.