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10 Boston-area real estate trends that need to die in 2017

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Starting w/ the ‘New Somerville’

As we slide into the final days of the first week of the new year, let us join hands and wish fervently for certain oft-voiced and -reported trends to pass forever, for now, from the shared lexicon until there’s more proof of their worthiness.

We’re not talking about tropes re: listings or design, but meta-memes about development, pricing, gentrification, and transportation—the things that make living here such a joy and a challenge—that are more wishful thinking than reality.


Brady Wahl/Flickr

10) X is the New Somerville

No, it’s not. Somerville is the New Somerville. Always has been. And the sales prices and the developments prove it.

9) Foreign buyers will buoy/save/boost the market

This pseudo trend is nothing but the result of Manhattan-envy. In Gotham, foreign buyers really do buoy the market. In Boston, locals (or at least Americans) buy up the majority of luxury towers—including the really expensive units.

8) Eight-figure condo deals are becoming some kind of new normal

Sorry. Deals of $10,000,000 or more are still very few and very far between in the Boston region. Heck, mansions asking that much can’t get it.

7) Transit-oriented development is driving much of Boston real estate

We wish. Alas, dated regulations and the region’s notoriously strong bond with the automobile mean one development after another with near-oceans of parking—even if they’re near T stops. The few exceptions prove the rule.

Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr

6) We’ll see the Green Line extension sooner rather than later... and then look out!

Actually, the 4.7-mile extension through Somerville into Medford is interminably delayed. It has not quite slid into Second Avenue Subway Land, but its stations are now not slated to open until at least 2021; and who knows what might happen between now and then? So let’s cool it re: the extension’s possible effects.

5) Workforce housing is a thing that will help solve Boston’s housing crunch

There’s an old saying in journalism that three times makes a trend. We’re not there yet.

4) The Seaport District is becoming a 24/7 neighborhood

More like a 24/7 gated community. Unless you maybe include Fort Point.

3) Downtown Crossing is becoming a 24/7 neighborhood

We’re probably guiltier than most in pushing this meme. Even with mammoth openings such as Millennium Tower last year, the neighborhood still feels like it shuts down after about 6 p.m. every weekday.

2) New development will drive sales prices downward

Some iteration of this canard has been dusted off and carted out year after year. The simple fact is that the region would need much, much more for-sale housing than is being built for prices to come down significantly across-the-board. Think about that: It’s an historic building boom, but it’s still not enough.

1) Rents are falling

Please. In the long run, maybe—but, on the ground and in real life, not much has changed for tenants and prospective tenants. And it probably won’t anytime soon, especially since the pace of apartment-building is slowing and there are plenty of people here willing and able to pay $3,000 a month for a studio.


Are we missing any trends that need to die in 2017? Let us know.