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Boston Real Estate in 2015: the Renaissance and the Risk

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Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends and people you would not otherwise notice. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

What will happen in Boston real estate in 2015?

New neighborhoods will be created and old neighborhoods will be transformed; some commercial areas will become much more residential and some residential areas will become much more commercial. The skyline will grow and the infrastructure beneath will be improved. Retail, restaurants, pharmacies and supermarkets will arrive in their new city locations. And, if it keeps up, Boston will have a WalkScore of 100!

Need another cup of the Boston real estate Kool-Aid? Need some more evidence that Boston is looking like a pretty good place to be? Companies are coming, people are coming, families are staying and innovators are innovating. Among the next great local urban real estate experiments, Lovejoy Wharf is getting built without parking; East Boston is getting buildings with rooftop pools; and the former Combat Zone is getting even more buildings with prices that tower over Back Bay's. That's just the start of the list of changes, but if you need a bigger sign of Boston's ever-widening broad appeal, consider this: not one, but two, two sneaker companies are building world headquarters in the city as I write—and you will be able see their signs as you enter the Hub from the north or the west. Not too shabby for a local economy that already has healthcare, academia, and high-tech in its back pocket.

In Boston, the biggest real estate question doesn't seem to be, "If you build it, will they come?" Rather, it's, "Can you build it fast enough?" Yet, in a city that has a rich history of skepticism, today it might be O.K. to raise an eyebrow and wonder if the rising tide is raising the returns on all Boston projects. Or, as supply and choice widen, will some locations, some projects, as one investor predicted at the beginning of 2014, begin to "take it on the chin."

Seriously, can the Hub rent untold thousands of luxury apartments and simultaneously sell $37 million condominiums? Or are these prices a wee bit too enthusiastic for mundane New Englanders. And when new Hub apartment developments are offering two to three months free as an incentive, is it a sign development is coming too fast, rather than too slow? Should residents and wannabe residents fear a future of high real estate prices or rising interest rates? Can we complete all the infrastructure changes without a bump in the road? And although I hate to sound like David Downer, I can't help but wonder if there will ever be a more modestly priced condo inventory in the Hub, the sort necessary to retain the city's young, talented workforce.

These are just some of the real estate questions and concerns we'll begin to see answers and resolutions for in 2015; so I look forward to Boston real estate in 2015 like the Pats look forward to playing in the playoffs.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

Lovejoy Wharf

131 Beverly Street, Boston, MA