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Pending Home Sales Increase


Cervone, Deegan & Associates, your real estate resource, is pleased to share that pending home sales have increased as of the end of last year according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), the indicator that is based on signed contracts rose 1.6% to 109 as we completed 2016 up from 107.3 the previous month. Factoring in this uptick the index is now 0.3% higher than December of the 2015.

Chief economist, Lawrence Yun has shared that contract activity has ranged across the country in December yet finished the year on a high note as the year came to an end. “Pending sales rebounded (in December) as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels1 to sign a contract,” he said. “The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing costs. Sales will struggle to build on last year’s strong pace if inventory conditions don’t improve.”

Looking forward, home sales are predicted to be at approximately 5.54 million for 2017. This is an increase of 1.7% over last year which displayed the best year of sales since 2006. The median home price for this year is expected to increase by 4%. Comparatively, 2016 had existing home sales rise by 3.8% and prices surge by 5.2%. Yun also expects that housing starts will increase by 7.9% to 1.26 million units.

“Especially if construction-related regulations are relaxed, all eyes will be on the homebuilding industry this year to see if they can finally start making up lost ground on the severe housing shortages impacting much of the country,” added Yun.

In several markets, the Boston and Greater Boston included, it is normal for sales to slow during the holidays and winter months. Inventory can also be more limited with sellers removing their homes from the market only to relist as spring approaches. Overall, the expectations for 2017 are optimistic as we proceed forth into the year.


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2017 Home Design Trends

As your real estate specialists, Cervone, Deegan and Associates would like to share the current design trends for 2017. As we have seen in the past, home styles often times begin with cutting-edge architects, builders and designers. Sometimes those trends then gain traction and become more widespread and mainstream. The economy and demographics can often play a role in trends, but this year there are two added triggers: a yearning for healthfulness and sense of community.

Community Gathering Space
The mix of more time spent on social media and the fact that fewer people are living closer to family members has left many craving face-to-face gatherings. Therefore, common gathering space has been a hot amenity to address this need. Many larger buildings or communities are offering popular options including clubhouses, community/function rooms or large common outdoor spaces.

Taupe is the New Gray
White still remains as the top color choice as it comes in many shades and is neutral. It has been haunted by gray in recent years with an increased popularity. However, this year taupe is making progress as people are searching for a warmer, but still neutral color for their home. In fact, Sherwin-Williams named “Poised Taupe” as its 2017 Color of the Year.

Playful Homes
With everyone having busier schedules and working longer days they want their homes to offer a place to relax and recharge. Homes with spaces that encourage play are trending higher up on buyers’ lists. Perhaps it can include a backyard bocce court, putting green or maybe even an outdoor kitchen.

Renewable and Warmer Surfaces
With many homeowners looking for more green and natural options, natural cork has been on the list of materials that reflect this sentiment and benefits of being low-maintenance. The material is resistant to mold, mildew, water, fire, cracking and termites.

Walkable Suburb Location
Urban locations have long been popular for their walkability. Nowadays, this demand is spreading to suburbs where being close to a town center is also appealing. Homes that are located close to public transport and have higher walk scores are becoming of more interest.

Counter Materials
Much like granite was popular for years, quartz and quartzite are estimated to be favorites until another material take their place. Additional green laminate options are gaining strength as they are not just for the lower end and their designs are mimicking stone, wood, metal and concrete.

Home offices
According to Global Workplace Analytics, the regular work from home time for those not self-employed has grown by 103% since 2005. Therefore, many people need a designated space for work in their homes. Nearly any area in a home can offer this when considering creativity meshed with dual purpose concepts.

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Dwell in this bright modern loft set in the heart of Boston! Renovated with a designer’s contemporary hand, multi-level living offers a dramatic layout and stunning finishes. With abundant built-in cabinetry and lighting, this home will inspire you with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, custom railings, open Kitchen in granite and glass tile, sparkling Bath and a separate Bedroom with birds-eye view over the Living/Dining level. Wood and tile floors, soaring ceiling, air conditioning and storage are just a few of the additional features. Sought-after building amenities include concierge, elevator, and roof-top decks, swimming pool, fitness room and laundry. Rental parking possible. Just steps to all area urban pleasures and conveniences. Boston living at its best.

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Neighborhood Okays New Building for James’s Gate Site

Cervone Deegan & Associates, your local real estate resource, is pleased to share that the site of the James’s Gate Pub has been recently approved by the neighborhood to be developed. The scope of the development includes a four-story building with 11 condos and ground floor retail space.

After five community meetings the Zoning Committee of the JP Neighborhood Council voted 8-2 to support the plan to develop the site at 5 McBride Street after being presented nearly a year ago. The additional condo inventory was welcomed by the neighborhood while the original size of the project and replacement of such an iconic pub were more of a challenge to digest.

The plan originally had called for 5-stories rather than the 4 that were finally approved and will preserve the name “The Gate” as a nod to the pub.

The developer has agreed to increase the affordability of the units in negotiations for approval. Two of the 11 units will be offered at “affordable” prices. To qualify, these residences will be offered to those making 80% of the Area Median Income. The first floor will offer retail space although no tenant has been secured as of yet. Parking for 12 cars will also be offered in the plan.

Original plans were not well received by the JPNC committee at first due to its size and aesthetics.  “I think it’s much improved from last version that we saw,” said resident Marie Turley. “This is still larger than what the community is asking for and they have concerns about the materials. It isn’t Manhattan, it’s JP at the point of a turn.”

Sentiments were varied about the aesthetics, but the decrease in size from five stories to four was appreciated by local residents.


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January Real Estate Market Review

As we begin 2017, Cervone Deegan & Associates notes that there are many economic forecasts being shared about what to expect from the real estate market. Last year was complete with light inventory coupled with historically low interest rates. However, as the year concluded we saw rates showing slight increases after the presidential election. So what can we expect for this year?

The National Association of Realtors has shared a Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey which asked respondents about their confidence level in the economy. The result was that the majority felt that now was still a good time to buy real estate. Only among those who were renting was there a slight decrease in confidence levels.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist says the declining confidence among renters is due to price increases in some areas of the country. “Rents and home prices outpacing incomes and scant supply in the affordable price range has been a prominent headwind for many prospective buyers this year,” he said.

Despite the decrease in confidence, sales are predicted to be 3.3% higher than 2015 after all 2016 numbers complete. Additionally, 2017 is expected to see sales increase by approximately 2% more. By the end of 2017 it is predicted that mortgage rates will be around 4.6% which will potentially slow the market down to more of a normal rate.

“Although the economy is expected to continue to expand with around 2 million net new job creations, existing home sales are expected to see little expansion next year because of affordability tensions from rising mortgage rates and prices continuing to outpace income growth,” said Yun.

The survey identified that job growth and low unemployment has been adding to a stronger confidence in the economy. Consumer confidence as a result had increased by 6% from Q3 to Q4 of 2016. The most optimistic group are those under the age of 44 and living in an urban area with higher incomes.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds feel it is a good time to sell with nearly all surveyed (at 91%) believing that prices will remain the same or increase in their area over the next six months. In sum the findings of the report indicate that most are positive about the real estate market and our economy as a whole for 2017.