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Concerns The Hot Mass. Housing Market Is A New Bubble

This chart shows single-family home and condominium sales in Massachusetts from 2010 through June 2013. (The Warren Group)

This chart shows single-family home and condominium sales in Massachusetts from 2010 through June 2013. (The Warren Group)

The housing market is heating up in Massachusetts. Many real estate watchers say homes are being snapped up days or even hours after hitting the market, often above asking price and without conditions such as a home inspection.

Some buyers say they have been boxed out of buying homes as bidding wars take over in some cities, making it hard for them to compete with cash-only offers.

New data from real-estate tracking firm The Warren Group prepared specifically for WBUR (see chart below) shows that a significant percentage of single family homes and condos are being purchased in cash. In June, 11 percent of single-family homes sales were completed without mortgages, down from nearly 25 percent in April. On the condo market, more than 28 percent of sales in June were all cash, down from a high of almost 50 percent in December 2012.

We look at what the booming housing market means for the Massachusetts economy, for home sellers and buyers and whether the Bay State is heading toward a mini housing bubble.


Tim Warren, chief executive officer of real eastate publisher The Warren Group

Barry Bluestone, the Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy and founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University

Ellen Friedman, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Cambridge

Gabrielle Daniels, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Sudbury.


The Boston Globe Are We Creating The Next Housing Bubble?

2012 Housing Report Card: The latest report on the Massachusetts housing market from Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

June Bay State Home Sales: The Warren Group’s latest report on home sales and prices in Massachusetts.

Thoughts On Multiple Offers: Daniels’ advice for buyers when trying to stand out among multiple offers on a property.

Other stories from this show:

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  • JP

    Just want to point out how ridiculous Brookline is. I am a new attorney, my wife is a phd candidate and we have 2 kids entering 3rd grade. We rent in Brookline because of the schools and because it is so good for kids. Unfortunately, we cannot compete against demand by “retiring boomers” who already have homes to sell and are moving in to what is really a great area for young families… except that the young families cannot buy.

    • Ellengfriedman

      Hi JP – I’m one of the realtors who was on the broadcast.  Brookline is one of the most expensive communities–there are some others you might want to consider, not the least of which is Belmont.  While not cheap, it’s more affordable than Brookline and the schools are very highly ranked.  I’d be glad to talk with you about options–just give me a ring.  Ellen Friedman, 617-448-1542.

    • fun bobby

      oh boo hoo for rich people

  • needmorehousing

    I live in Belmont with the Cushing Village proposed development. It took 4-5 years for the development to be approved and it took so long because residents were opposed to the types of units that would be built–3 bedroom units/2 bedroom units. The residents worried about overcrowding the schools and the aesthetics of the buildings. That kind of opposition makes it difficult to create new and alternative living spaces in the greater Boston area. 

  • creaker

    As wages become more disparate, what most people can afford is going to shrink, while what the few others can afford is going to greatly expand.

    Another way to put it is many of us are much poorer than we used to be. Wealth isn’t measured by the number of dollars you make – it’s measured by what you can afford with the dollars you have. And that’s rapidly shrinking, in some places much faster than others.

  • Curious and empathic

    Amazing stories! Do the good people of Boston understand that for the price of a condo in Boston one can, instead, own a large, prestigious, updated, colonial home (1774 by a wealthy Minuteman) along with a stunning converted barn/studio/gallery/office? That’s 10,000 square feet in upscale and nearby Hollis, NH, with award-winning schools, neighborhood farmer’s markets and tax-free outlet shopping. Here, just over the border, the lifestyle can include a short, easy drive to work or a short walk across the driveway!

    • Nobody

      Who the hell wants to spend 2+ hours in a car every weekday?

      • TypicalWiredReader

        In the future we will all work from home. Because we will be unemployed. 

      • methos1999

        I think the point is that Nashua is a fairly active jobs/business-wise, so Boston is not the center of the world, even in New England…

    • fun bobby

      you don’t have to promote NH. people from mass are moving there in droves already

  • Anne Dinoto

    Hi, I’ve been a renter in the Boston area since 1999, friends warned me not to move here because of the housing issue–and I didn’t listen!  My housing experiences have been and continue to be horrible because I cannot afford a “luxury rental”.   Towns and developers says it’s only the luxury market that are economically feasible. I beg to differ, I think it’s more about renters being viewed as second class citizens (unless your very high income).  The relationship with landlords, property managers and tenants is a joke.  I’m tired of the housing news always being about homeownership when there are some areas with a very high percentage of renters. Thanks for Bluestone’s comment about how much more your money can buy in other cities. I wish I had heard the message sooner.

  • Matt

    My wife and I moved here from Dallas for her graduate school. Four years later she has her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, works for a very prestegious hospital and combined with my job our household income is over $200k annually. We are finally ready to replicate and despite loving Boston, we are moving to Medford to rent and save money so that we can move back west. We don’t want to leave Boston but there is no way we can reach our financial goals (i.e. pay off grad school, finance our hypothetical child’s college and one day retire) by staying in Boston or it’s surrounding areas. Until this issue is addressed Boston will continue to lose tallented individuals who are forced out by the realites of the housing market and overall cost of living.

    • methos1999

      It’s called commuting. House down the street for me is going for $350,000, my wife and I bought our house within the last year for $315,000 and have 0.75 acres. My wife and I make combined make $125,000. We’re only 30 minutes from Boston.

    • fun bobby

      you really want to live in the city of boston?

  • methos1999

    This broadcast was a little disappointing, where it is titled “Concerns The Hot Mass. Housing Market Is A New Bubble”, but really there was very little mention of housing outside of the metro-Boston area. I mean do people know there are other areas in MA other than Boston? What is the real estate doing in the Worcester area? Springfield? Lowell/Lawrence? How about the North Shore? The Cape? Are any of these areas seeing the same over-heated market as Greater Boston?

    • J__o__h__n

      The show is called Radio Boston.

      • methos1999

        Then title the segment “Hot Boston Housing Market” and I’ll ignore it.

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