You wouldn't know it to glance out the window or move a block down the street, but spring is less than three weeks away. What might the warmer season bring in terms of Hub home sales and leases? Especially after the brutal-est of winters? We thought we would run down nine sure signs of the looming springtime thaw, some obvious hopefully (such as still-low interest rates) and some not so much so (think Tom Brady).
It's such a truism in real estate that it's sometimes overlooked completely: Spring is perennially the busiest, if not the busiest, for home sales in any housing market, Greater Boston included. It's also traditionally one of the busiest in terms of rentals as renewal notices go out about this time and people plot their summer exits. The simple ticks of the calendar should insure greater activity in both selling and leasing.
T and No Sympathy
You may have noticed, or you may have experienced firsthand, that our aged public-transit system all but gave up the ghost this winter, failing outright several mornings and early evenings; and just generally wheezing along for much of January and February. Might this laughable performance cause tenants and owners to reassess how much they like or want to be near a T stop? We know there's a premium on proximity. Might that now change and therefore see people replacing proximity for something like space or quietude farther out (or in)?
Elections in the Rearview
However you feel about the outcomes, the elections, both statewide and nationally, are long over (though Charlie Baker still doesn't have a Governors Mansion); and, with that, the uncertainty that can often accompany changes of governmental power. Anyone sitting on the market fence sales- or investment-wise is liable to jump back in.
The Incredibly Improving Economy
While you were nervously looking out the window the last couple of months, just waiting for someone to move your space saver, the economy was improving. Joblessness has declined, especially nationally, and there's a new optimism throughout much of the land. The Boston area weathered the Great Recession better than most regions, but now much of the rest of the U.S. has shaken it off, too.
Low, Low Interest Rates
This kind of goes along with the above point about an improving economy, and that is that interest rates for loans such a mortgages remain at or near historic lows. And they're not expected to rise significantly during 2015. If anything is a harbinger of springtime activity, it's the fact that money is still cheap (maybe cheaper than it should be, but that's for another time).
This is interest of a different kind. You've seen the trend stories about brokers and their clients fretting over snow piles obscuring sales signs and open houses unattended because of foul weather. Quite simply, people have understandably stayed indoors and have not had the inclination to try to move homes, not in this weather, no-how. There is a lot of pent-up interest in at least looking, if not buying and leasing.
Luckily for these new lookers, there are a lot of new apartment buildings opening in the next few months; condos not so much. Though the Boston area's inventory could still use a lot, lot more of both.
Brokers Gotta Broker
This goes along with the last two points. Brokers' business has dropped off because of the weather and they're looking to hit the streets for their balance sheets (say that five times fast).
Landlords Gotta Rent
No one on the ownership side likes a high vacancy rate.
You will have noticed that many of the above points—indeed, the entire thrust of this list—is predicated upon the fact that the snow has to melt as the weather gets warmer. With it out of the way and the temperature more hospitable to human movement, a lot of the pieces start to fall into place. Even without being preceded by so hellish a winter, spring is generally busy real estate-wise precisely because of the better weather.
The Patriots Were in the Super Bowl
Weather karma or coincidence, the Hub housing market, particularly condos, tends to do better after the Patriots appear in the Big Game. Seriously. Quit being such a cynic. Spring is almost here.
· Here's How Rent Declines the Farther You Get From the T [Curbed Boston]
· This Was Almost the Massachusetts Governor's Mansion [Curbed Boston]
· Patriots in the Super Bowl Means Good News for Hub Sellers [Curbed Boston]
· The Biggest Greater Boston Apartment Openings in 2015 [Curbed Boston]
· Where Are the New Boston Condos? Openings Scarce in '15 [Curbed Boston]