The Globe loosed a thunderclap on open houses and buyer demand in the Hub's housing market by way of a front-page article on Saturday by Jennifer B. McKim. The article's anecdotes build to a fever pitch. Here's how:
"I’m absolutely, completely blown away as to how the market is behaving," said Andy Silverman, 32, who wants to buy a home in Newton or Brookline, but has found some listings under agreement before he can even arrange tours. "I would describe it as people trying to get on the last lifeboat on the Titanic." The Titanic metaphor—always a fabulous go-to for painting desperation or urgency.
Gary Dwyer, owner of Buyer Agents of Boston LLC, said people interested in buying are packing open houses. They are either convinced that the market has finally bottomed out and is now headed up, he said, or eager to ditch their escalating apartment rents for fixed-rate mortgages, which have been rising modestly. Renting as an option quickly dispensed with—and never mind that down payments and closing costs can consume as much as what would be paid in two years of rent. We now have buying as the supreme option, renting as an also-ran.
John Ranco, senior sales associate in the South End office of Hammond Residential Real Estate LLC, said there has been a sense of urgency at open houses this year. “Something is different. There has been a shift in attitude." Things are just... different now, O.K.?
Newton real estate broker Marie A. Presti said she recently put a two-family Roslindale home up for sale at slightly below market price, with the stipulation that the buyer pay in cash. Presti said she received 18 offers in five days, with 16 of them from developers. The winning bid ... was tens of thousands of dollars above the asking price. The involvement of developers and flippers—and developers who are flippers—shows again just how urgent things are. This wave could crest at any moment, people!
But even in Worcester, which was hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, there is a revived interest in buying and selling homes not connected to the distressed-housing market, said Erika Hall, an agent with Keller Williams Realty Greater Worcester. Hall said that in the past month she has received multiple bids on two properties that were not in foreclosure. It's hot everywhere, even where the poors are! Buy! Buy! Buy!
Seriously, though, we don't presume to know the state of the local housing market (we have a theory and it's a thoroughly un-sexy one), but Hub condo and single-family sales are up over last year. Though last year was pretty dismal. So, again...
And McKim's article notes that the warm winter might have been as responsible as anything for the more competitive buying environment. That, and everyone's watching the historically low mortgage rates, hoping they don't jump. Which the Fed has said won't happen for another two years or thereabouts. So, again...