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Why Condos and Construction Are The New Booming Industry In Boston

Boston follows the rest of the country in real estate development.

By Jeff Vasishta October 3, 2016

While Boston has had more ups and downs than a Kim Kardashian bodysuit, its history hasn’t always been so pretty. Blue collar, tough and gritty, it seems corruption, gangs and baseball are Beantown’s favorite pastimes. But these days, construction is the new obsession. Glass and steel are going up faster than excuses after a presidential debate. And Boston’s getting high on its own supply of skyscrapers, with five towers over 60 stories and 600 feet currently in construction.

Related: Running With The Big Dogs: Top Five Office Listings In Financial District

Investors buying from around the world are fueling the boom and Boston’s selling more condos than clams. The Boston Globe reported: “Many neighborhoods are barely recognizable from just a few years ago. Boylston Street in the Fenway, once dominated by fast-food joints and gas stations, is lined with luxury apartment buildings and new restaurants, and the tallest of them, a new tower planned for the triangular tip between Boylston and Brookline Avenue, is soon to break ground. The Seaport District is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the country. And long-struggling places like Dudley Square and the East Boston waterfront are on the cusp of major transformations.”

Photo courtesy of www.archboston.org
Photo courtesy of www.archboston.org

“It’s absolutely extraordinary,” said Bob Richards, a partner at Transwestern RBJ to the Globe. “What’s driving it is the top-tier labor talent in industries like technology and life sciences. The young people who work for those companies want to live in an urban environment.”

Build it and they will come. Boston’s population is soaring along with its construction—646,000 more people between 2010 and 2013, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s more population growth in three years than Boston experienced in the 1980s and ’90s combined.

That means the entire city is booming. Of course, real estate around the hallowed grounds of Harvard and MIT will always be a premium, but if you’re looking to hijack some of Boston’s rising equity, is there anywhere that’s still affordable? Well, yes—if you don’t mind some sweat equity.

“The city is very well managed,” Manish Kumar, president of Maven Realty, told the Globe. “There are people who’ve been here two years and people who’ve been here 50 years,” he says, “and they all really care about the place.” Bargains are still out there, but only on properties that need work. “If you want a deal,” says Kumar, “pull up your sleeves.” Kumar recommends the area of Medford which is in close proximity to Boston and Cambridge. It has good government, diversity, and lively city centers which have helped raise Medford’s median single-family price by eight percent from 2014 to 2015, to $463,500. Kumar expects the gains to continue. “Whether the Green Line [extension] comes or not, I think Medford is still the next big place.”

Silvia Sandoval Guerini, broker/owner of Stonehurst Real Estate Group, points would-be home buyers looking for affordability (under, $400,000) to the towns of Revere, Everett and Lynn. Here are the Revere stats:

  • Median single-family price $330,000
  • Change since 2010 +42%
  • Median condo price $289,000
  • Change since 2010 +70%

A revamped downtown and development along its 3.5-mile beach has resulted in bidding wars. It’s “very nice and not so far away,” says Guerini. Three subway stops, four miles to Boston, a straight shot to the North Shore, and being close to Logan Airport are attractions. But young families are drawn by Revere’s increasing abundance of kids’ programs—five new schools in the past 12 years—and educational initiatives. “For people looking to move to Revere,” says Guerini, “the next alternative is Everett and the next after that is Lynn. In Lynn, you can get a bigger house and more land.” And, while Lynn may not have the school stats of Revere, it has a lower median house price of $266,000.

And, that, Millennials are finding, is a whole lot more bang for your buck than you can get in Brooklyn or the rest of Boston, for that matter. Wonder how long it’ll last?

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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