Real Estate Today: State of the JP market

The state of the local real estate market always seems to be of concern to residents of Jamaica Plain and beyond. As Jamaica Plain becomes an increasingly popular neighborhood, the Gazette reached out to local real estate agents to find out the latest updates.

In recent years, Jamaica Plain has been a seller’s market. According to Karen McCormack, real estate agent at McCormack and Scanlan, 2017 has continued to be a seller’s market “with many properties receiving multiple strong offers, often 10 percent or more above the asking price.” This, coupled with the relatively low stock of inventory, has made it a difficult time for buyers. But, all is not hopeless for buyers.

“The inventory has stayed very low, making the demand high. We are now beginning to see a smaller amount of buyers interested in certain properties, which may mean a stabilization of the market,” McCormack said. “Properties listed in the $400,000 range continue to be in high demand, being desirable both to first-time buyers, people downsizing, and investors.”

Rachael Kulik, office manager and real estate agent at Jamaica Plain Rentals and Sales, agrees that the market has been strong.

“Many landlords this year chose to take advantage of the market, dive right into it and list with us,” Kulik said. “We’ve had a great mix of multi-families and condos, and there’s more coming in soon.”

While it’s not a big surprise that the market is still strong, Kulik says that what is different this year from previous years is a new clientele.

“From what we can tell, investors took over the market this year rather than homeowners,” Kulik said. “Until now, it’s been an equal mix of both.”

Kulik speculated on some reasons why she thinks there has been a shift towards investors. Firstly, prices are high, making condos and homes in Jamaica Plain unaffordable to many people. Also, multi-families are increasingly scarce and in high demand.

Kulik said that this year, JP Rentals and Sales have received three times as many inquiries about specific properties and general market questions from brokers, owners, buyers, and appraisers than last year.

“Investors are pouncing and going right to the source because they’re aware more than ever fast, informed decisions are critical,” Kulik said.

Compared to this time last year, McCormack said that there is less inventory on the market right now.

“We have seen the highest increase of prices in the multi-family segment and luxury condominiums in particularly desirable neighborhoods,” McCormack said. “All properties in Jamaica Plain have had an incremental increase of prices overall, undoubtedly fueled by the lack of inventory, continued low interest rates and overall desirable area.”

For rentals, Kulik believes that there is about the same amount of inventory as last year, and most of what they currently have at JP Rentals and Sales has come in either right before September or during.

“Some units we have, or are getting, are because work had to be done after much wear-and-tear from very long term tenants, or work that had to be done was put off for a very long time,” Kulik added.

Kulik did note that many tenants stayed in their existing rentals this year, and that JP Rentals and Sales has been very busy with their contract writing and application processing services.

Jamaica Plain has seen many new developments being built in efforts to offset the city’s housing crisis, many of which have been priced at a high rate. McCormack said that the luxury condominium market has stayed very healthy with little decrease in interest or pricing.

“The rental market in Jamaica Plain has shifted significantly over the past few years,” McCormack said. “Renters have been willing to pay high rents for luxury units, whether in the newer large buildings, such as Metromark or Bell Olmsted Park, offering many amenities, or luxury condominiums being rented.  Conversely, older rental stock that lacks amenities (such as laundry facilities or dishwashers) have seen significantly longer market time and even some vacancy, which is unusual for Jamaica Plain.”

McCormack thinks that this is because younger renters are less willing to go without modern conveniences.

At JP Rentals and Sales, however, Kulik has noticed the opposite trend from renters, saying that they have not had a lot of interest in brand new developments.

“Actually, people were pretty turned off by [newer developments] this year,” Kulik said. “Some weren’t even open to a brick building unit, the cookie cutters with heat and hot water included, because they wanted homey, classic charm. They wanted dining rooms, porches, original woodwork.”

Kulik did say that renovated condos from multi-families have been “renting and selling like hotcakes.”

“People love a tastefully done mix or new and old, something with a unique twist or just a really, really nicely done renovation,” Kulik said. “They don’t like it directly off-the-shelf from Home Depot, they want the French doors and the stainless appliances.”

During the week of Sept. 10 to 16, the lowest priced condominum sale was 111 Perkins St. #148 for $245,000. The highest sale that week was also a condominium on Allendale Road at $1,599,000.

In all of 2017, the lowest single family was 225 Amory St. at $360,600 and the highest single family was 57 Orchard St. at $2,180,000. The lowest condominium sale of the year was 111 Perkins St. #149 at $217,000, and the highest condominium sale at 58 Eliot St. at $1,825,000. The lowest multi-family sale was 48 Wyman St. at $550,000 and the highest multi-family was 83 Elm St. at $2,385,000.

As for the future of the market, McCormack says that this fall has seen a slow down, but is not sure if it’s a temporary function of the season or a lasting trend.

“Although I expect Jamaica Plain to stay highly desirable, the relatively steep price increases over the past few years is unlikely to continue,” McCormack said. “The amount of new buildings with multiple condominiums coming on the market in the next couple of years should mean buyers gain a little more power in the coming months or year.”

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