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 you would not otherwise see. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.
Christian Iantosca has been working full-time in Jamaica Plain real estate since 2000, and has built a niche working with developers. I recently shared some time with him discussing this key Boston market, a market that typically offers more bang for the buck than many other nearby neighborhoods and a market which attracts very loyal buyers.
Could you describe the current JP real estate market?
I think JP is now at a point where the general public knows that it's a hot spot. When I started out here, some of my friends, who maybe lived in the Back Bay or the South End, would say, "Oh, yeah, JP, we have heard of that place. Where is it again?" And now those same people are coming here to look at purchasing.
In my experience, JP finishes are usually a step up from many other markets. What's happening with them now?
Well, I think that JP is shifting away from the standard, builder-grade finishes to a much more contemporary high-end finish. People want that European-inspired flavor. JP buyers are extremely educated and well-traveled. I always tell developers, "Forget the fireplace, put in bookcases." JP buyers love bookcases! They want to display their books. A lot of our clients don't even have TVs. As well, we're finding JP buyers by and large have one car.
What else can you tell me about JP buyers?
The buyers on Danforth are a blend of empty-nesters that are selling big houses in the suburbs; and it's these young couples that live in a city neighborhood now and they love what it offers.
Traditionally, Pondside has been the highest value JP location, but this year it's Danforth. Why?
I have seen a real shift, especially in people that are new to JP, to wanting to be in more central JP, closer to the T. On Danforth, the finishes are cleaner; less busy, less fuss and less detail is actually more expensive and more difficult to do. It's easier to just cover up something with a molding. Also, what's changed is that there are very few new-construction projects in JP and, when you do see a new construction project, they're very small scale.
How is the commute from JP without a car?
Jamaica Plain has four stops on the Orange Line, so in general you are never more than a 10-minute walk from the T and the Orange is very reliable. As well, the 39 bus ridership is up significantly to Copley.
Is there a sale that comes to mind that symbolizes pricing in the new market we are experiencing?
I would point to 11 Cerina, which was a townhouse which listed at $729K and sold at $791K. I think every Realtor in JP was blown away by that number. It was 1,453 square feet, built in 2007, and it wasn't fancy… but it bridged that gap between the small condos and single-families.
I think of JP as a "call" market—the people who want it, want it and accept no substitutes. What are some of the things that make JP different?
I think the people that come to JP are not cross-shopping that much. …You know, JP's very dog-friendly, so I have a lot of buyers who are extremely passionate about their pets. We have clients that have chickens in their yards for fresh eggs and they have beehives; I've got several people that have those. I think that's kind of unique to JP and the whole urban gardening trend is really big here.
I think it's important for people to know that JP has very passionate people that live here and you've got a lot of outspoken activists that work really hard to protect Jamaica Plain's uniqueness and it's local, homegrown flavor. That stands out in comparison to other neighborhoods. When you walk down Centre Street or when you go to the hardware store, you're going to run into five or 10 people you know. And I think that sense of community is what keeps people wanting to stay in JP and move to JP.
What do you have to say about the hot JP restaurant scene?
JP really values home grown, non-chain businesses… So we've got higher-quality food and we have a lot more variety than when I started here in 2000, when it was sort of pizza shops on every corner. The restaurants here have really stepped up their game. I went to Vee Vee the other night for dinner and I had one of the best meals I've had in Boston. We have a new Vietnamese restaurant on our block called Noodle Barn that just opened.
What is a change to look for in the JP real estate market?
I think there's a real demand for more modern and bigger-scale projects. I think Washington Street is really primed to satisfy that demand in the future; that's the area I am going to be really looking at closely.
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