Real Estate Today: State of JP market

The state of the real estate market in Jamaica Plain seems to be booming for sellers and renters, but there may be a decline soon.

Karen McCormack, a real estate agent at McCormack and Scanlan Real Estate, has over 25 years of experience and knows to expect some fluctuations in the market.

“Two weeks ago I would have said that the JP market is strong for sellers and everything is selling,” she said. “It almost feels like there was no price that was too high.”

She explained that because the inventory is so low, sellers can ask for more money than their properties are valued at. Prices of all kinds of buildings have inflated from just a couple years ago, especially townhouses, according to McCormack. But, she added, there is a possibility for a shift in the market.

“I don’t know if it will be this fall, this winter, or in a year or two,” said McCormack.

She said her agency has already seen a less enthusiastic crowd at 10 recent open houses, with potential buyers seeming less serious than the booming peak of summer.

“The volatility of the market has been so intense since the beginning of 2013. It used to be a more gradual rolling up and down, but after the mortgage fall out in 2008, it has been more dramatic,” said McCormack.

Although the future of the market is unpredictable, the fall market is now beginning, which is usually a fruitful time since it is shorter than the spring market, according to McCormack.

Rachael Kulik, office manager at JP Rentals and Sales, which specializes in rentals but also manages sales, said that JP is booming when it comes to rentals. The period that most apartments are rented is for June and September move-ins, since many student and healthcare residency cycles began then, said Kulik.

Andrew Brilliant, a real estate agent at Unlimited Sotheby’s International Realty who has worked in real estate for 11, echoed that sentiment. Because of that, he said that July and October can be an opportune time to look for an apartment if the renter is looking for a lower price.

“There are still some deals out there,” he said. “Timing is key.”

Brilliant said that the main inventory stock in JP is two-bedroom units. He said that the average two bedroom of 900 square feet will have a living room, dining room and a porch.

“Most people are happy to pay between $1,800 and $2,000 for a two bedroom,” he said.

But now prices for these units can go for up to $2,600 or $2,700 a month, according to Brilliant.

“There are not a lot of one-bedroom apartments available,” said Brilliant, emphasizing the need for them since his agency garners a lot of interest from single young professionals and couples.

Real estate agents’ fees seem to be more prevalent now in the market than 10 years ago, according to Brilliant.

“Very few landlords are willing to pay fees now,” he said.

Brilliant said that 10 years ago it was common that landlords and owners would pay half or the whole fee. But, he added, now because there are more renters than there are apartments, it’s more common that the renter would have to pay the entire fee. Brilliant said that some arrangements might involve raising the rent incrementally, so that the fee is paid for over time, instead of all up front.

Brilliant recommended for renters to have their checkbook ready when they go to see an apartment, see as many different apartments as they can, and to be ready to spring on something that they know is the right fit.

Kulik said that the type of apartments many renters and buyers are interested in are “renovated, but not too renovated. People are looking for a mix of renovated and vintage.”

Renters and buyers are coming from almost everywhere, according to McCormack. She said maybe around half of the marketplace is fueled by the healthcare community, which takes up both the rental and lower price range condominiums to homes worth up to the millions for single families.

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