By Lauren Bennett
Special to the Gazette
As the warmer weather winds down, the real estate market tends to follow suit—but not too much. The Gazette asked several real estate agents in the Jamaica Plain area how the market is faring as we head into fall and winter.
A general consensus from the agents is that inventory remains low and the demand remains high, which Sladja Vukovic from Focus Real Estate said is a pattern that she’s seen over the past couple of years in Jamaica Plain. She also said the average home is selling for a higher price. Emmanuel Scibilia, a real estate agent from Coldwell Banker, said that a lot of sellers don’t have a place to go so “they’re struggling with what they will do. More and more people are buying and selling at the same time,” she said.
The market remains strong, according to Colleen Scanlon of McCormack and Scanlon. “If you see something not selling, there’s usually a story behind it,” she said.
Though sales are slower towards the end of the year, Vukovic said that people who are looking to get good deals are looking at this time of year, and that properties that need a little more work are where people can find those deals. There’s also a little bit less competition for properties now, she added.
Heading into the fall, there are still plenty of buyers, though, Scanlon said. She said that although some properties will still have multiple offers, it “feels less stressful; it’s not overwhelming with crowds of people standing in a property.” She said it’s less of a rushed feeling for sellers as well, because sellers usually have to adhere to the schedule during the spring market.
“We have a really great market here and really beautiful condos and single family homes,” Vukovic said. “People who come to JP are looking for charm and sometimes for modern and sometimes for antique. We have a nice mix of everything here to offer.”
Condos seem to be what the majority of buyers are looking for. “People tend to go towards triple deckers and they like the neighborhood feeling of Jamaica Plain,” Vukovic said. Scibilia said that after condos, people are looking for single family homes, and then multi-family homes.
Most homes in Jamaica Plain go for more than the asking price. “Some of the prices have been astonishing; more than you would expect,” Scanlon said. Vukovic said condos are selling for around 104% of their asking price on average, while single family homes are selling for 103% of their asking price. She added that the increase in interest rates decrease buying power. Scanlon said that in general between single family homes and condos, there can be around 10 offers on average per property, and as many as 30 per small condo, so the market is competitive.
The average single family home in Jamaica Plain sells for a little over $1.1 million, and the average condominium sells for around $640,000, Vukovic said. Over the past six months, she said the most expensive single family home sold was 40 Greenough Avenue, which sold for $2.85 million, while the cheapest single family home sold was 67 Eastland Road for $555,000.
Vukovic said that the most expensive condo was sold for $1.495 million at 19 Cheshire Street. It’s a three bed, two and a half bath condo with 2549 square feet. The cheapest condo was at 171 South Street, which sold for $293,000 and has 1 bedroom and 420 square feet. She also said that in the past 12 months, there have been 62 single family homes, 403 condos, and 47 multi-family homes sold in Jamaica Plain.
She added that this is a great time to see homes when they’re not at their best during the warm, sunny months of spring and summer. In the fall and winter, buyers can see how a house looks in a storm, as well as any potential leaks or other issues or imperfections that might be glossed over in better weather. “A lot of buyers think they shouldn’t be moving in the winter and then they miss out on great opportunities,” she said. “Buy now versus waiting for a busy season.”
While this is not rental season, the agents said that there are still a good number of rental properties on the market. Vukovic said that rentals do not have as quick of a turnover as sales and they don’t go as fast. “There are definitely more options in rental right now and they stay on the market a little bit longer,” she said. She said there are 84 rental listings from anywhere between $1700 and $4750. The average rental price in JP for a one bedroom is around $2500, a two bedroom is around $2600, and a three bed is around $3300.
Scibilia said that although rentals have slowed down this time of year, people are still looking for them. He said that around this time last year, there were 82 rental properties available. Compared to this year’s 84 that Vukovic mentioned, it’s around the same.
As far as outlook for the future of the market goes, these agents agree that it will probably be more of the same. Vukovic said that based on her predictions it will continue to be a seller’s market in the future. Scanlon said that she thinks the market will stay strong for a while due to the low inventory, as well as the fact that people are using their own money to buy homes these days. She said this will help people become invested in their properties, which will keep inventory low. “People who have spent a lot of money have spent a lot on down payments and will not be willing to lose that money,” she said.
Scibilia predicts that the market will continue to appreciate and agrees that inventory will remain low, and the amount of new construction in Jamaica Plain will have an effect on the market. A lot of people looking in Jamaica Plain do not have cars and want to be near public transportation as well as green space, Scibilia added. They are also looking for move-in-ready homes that fit within their budget, he said. But he predicts that home prices will continue to rise, which could push a lot of buyers out of Jamaica Plain. He said that there are currently 70 properties on the market in JP, and most of them haven’t been on the market that long. He said that high end properties tend to stay on the market longer because there are less buyers who can afford them, but some sellers also “get greedy and price it too high,” he said.
“This is a really great time for buyers to buy who are left over from the spring market which is the roughest for buyers in JP,” Vukovic said of the fall/winter season. “This is the time when they’re going to have much less competition and be able to get good deals.”