By Stephen Quigley
The spring is typically the most important season for the housing market, with about 40% of existing-home sales for the year occurring from March through June, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trend that already has taken root in Jamaica Plain. “The spring market has come to life, especially in the last week or two,” said Constance Cervone and Janet Deegan of Cervone Deegan+Associates at Coldwell Banker. In Jamaica Plain the real estate market remains strong, though there is not a lot of inventory. According to Paula Callaghan of Insight Realty, “Four out of the six properties that came on the market last week already are under agreement.” “While the primary housing market in JP is for condominiums, people are still holding on to their single-families,” noted Cervone. According to Maureen McElroy of Jamaica Hill Realty, there have been only 33 sales of condominiums this year and 12 single-family home sales in the first three months, which she termed a “snapshot,” with much more data from another nine months to add in at the end of 2023. “Interest rates are scaring the sellers, not the buyers,” said Randal Engelmann of Focus Real Estate. He further said that many owners would like to move up to a larger house, but because the interest rates on their current homes could be as low as 3%, compared to what they would have to borrow now at almost 6.5%, it has become much more expensive to own that dream home. However, according to Callaghan, buyers are getting a lot more creative with their financing, such as choosing a 5-year ARM (an adjustable rate mortgage) with a lower initial interest rate. Engelmann pointed out that right now there are 30 listings for condominiums with an average time of 44 days on the market. Multi-family homes have eight listings with 65 days on the market and three single-families have been 18 days on the market. McElroy noted that many first-time buyers to the JP market are looking at condominiums. “Buyers love new construction and it goes pretty fast,“ according to Callaghan. Nationwide, February marked the first year-over-year decline in the sale price of existing homes in a dozen years, falling by a miniscule 0.2% compared to February, 2022, according to the NAR. Regionally, prices fell more from a year ago in the West (down 5.6%) and Northeast (down 4.5%), where housing is more expensive. But prices were still climbing from last year in the South (up 2.7%) and the Midwest (up 5%). However in Jamaica Plain, “Listing prices are almost 9% higher than last year,” McElroy said. According to Engelmann, the Sumner Hill, Moss Hill, and Jamaica Pond areas are still the top neighborhoods in JP. Cervone added that Central JP is right below the top three neighborhoods, with the Washington St. area, starting at Forest Hills, an up-and-coming neighborhood. McElroy said, “This is still a good time to sell a house with so little inventory,” adding that JP is still a good bet. She noted that many properties have sold at 1% less than asking. “JP has been in high demand for quite awhile with properties that do better if they are priced to sell — and now is an excellent time to sell,” Cervone said. “I have a buyer who put in a good offer, but still did not get the house,” Callaghan said. Cervone said that she has a buyer willing to spend in the seven figures for the right house. “If the property is priced right, it will sell quickly,” Engelmann added, and all the realtors who were interviewed for this story had the same advice — price the property right.