It will come as no surprise that the runup to the spring market this year is much more optimistic than the run up to our “busy” season in 2020. For years, we have done more than 50 percent of our business between mid March and mid June. In other words, 25% of the year accounts for 50% of our production. It’s a fun and frenzied time for residential real estate professionals around Boston. It is perhaps more stressful than fun for buyers but we try to encourage them to see the bigger picture… it will all work out in the end!
After the longest year of most of our lives, we’re looking optimistically at the 90 day sprint in front of us. Importantly, the vaccine distribution efforts in Massachusetts (and nationally) have increased significantly in the last 30 days. By Memorial Day, the expectation is that virtually anyone who had wanted to be vaccinated will be. As a result, we’re seeing more and more people walking (and driving) the streets, hitting the restaurants (which are coming out of “hibernation”) and asking us about buying property in the city. All great things! If we can get the April sun to stay out, we’ll really be cooking…
I’m not embarrassed to share that the summer and fall of 2020 produced VERY few urban buyers for our firm – the statistics across the market back up that we were not alone! People were focused on suburban moves and the tour velocity that we saw at our listings in the fall was concerning, to say the least. However, the “spring” in the step of buyers coming out of the January Covid high case counts has been encouraging. As we shift our attention to April, I can say with no exaggeration that the urban market momentum is real.
ONE PROBLEM: WHERE’S THE INVENTORY?
As of October 14, there were 204 active listings over $2M in the South End, Back Bay and Beacon Hill. Today (3/22), there are only 144. That’s a 29% drop in available properties. Now, we fully expect there to be more inventory in the next 90 days than there has been in the last 90 days. But, we also expect there to be more buyers. All that to say, get ready for a competitive spring market in Boston!
ADVICE TO BUYERS: BE READY!
Opportunities may be fewer and farther between this season. Don’t hold out for the “perfect” property because you may be waiting a while… If you’re willing to stray from the best locations, there will be deals to be had. If not, prepare to pay up for “A” locations and renovations.
ADVICE TO SELLERS: DO THE EXTRA WORK
Get your property in “turn key” condition prior to listing. Don’t make buyers break out their vision goggles. Repairs and construction have been as difficult as anything in the last 12 months and buyers don’t appear to have any real tolerance to take on that risk with a new home. Outfit your home offices and private outdoor spaces in the most aspirational way possible. Even if you didn’t live like that when you owned the property, showing its flexibility to be more than “just a home” will go a long way.
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Here at Columbus & Over we’ve fallen into the natural cadence of producing a “State of the Market” blog post in the spring and fall each year. Our year end research piece that goes much deeper on the luxury market ($2M+) comes out in January and sets the stage for the year ahead.