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Boston Housing Market

Jan 3

Foreign Investors Favor US

by Mary Teresa Fowler

Foreign real estate investment

According to the results of the 19th Annual Survey released by the Association of Foreign Investment in Real Estate (AFIRE), international buyers favor US property. As foreign investors notice a recovering economy, they are expressing a renewed interest in U.S. real estate. In the latter part of 2010, this real estate survey was conducted among association members. The James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business handled the project.

19th AFIRE Survey

Industry leaders are bound to pay close attention to this latest survey by AFIRE with its 180 members representing 21 countries. The survey received responses from members holding more than $627 billion in global real estate and $265 billion in U.S. property. More than 60% of responses named the US as the best potential for capital appreciation. At least 72% of foreign buyers revealed that they plan to increase their US investments in 2011 compared to 2010 transactions.

AFIRE's 19th Annual Survey holds significant weight. The numbers reflect the opinions and plans of an influential group holding a considerable stake in global and regional assets. The 2010 results are far more encouraging than previous dismal numbers.

In 2006, only 26% of international investors saw potential in US property. Now more foreign buyers recognize the chance for capital appreciation in this country. Actually, the 2010 survey showed the strongest faith in this nation's real estate in the past decade.

Leading U.S. Cities

Two US cities – New York City and Washington – outshone other global cities in this recent AFIRE survey. In fact, New York City replaced London as the number one choice for foreign investors in real estate during 2011. Since 2001, London has held either first or second place. With the latest AFIRE results, London dropped to third place – behind the Big Apple and Washington – just before Paris in fourth position. Ian Hawksworth, AFIRE chairman, is not surprised by London's drop in rank.

"...In the last downturn, London was the first market to recover, and whilst investment in the UK Capital is still very active, it is not surprising that London has dropped to third place as investors expand their search to higher yielding markets such as U.S. gateway cities that offer attractive risk adjusted returns," says Ian Hawksworth, chairman of Foreign Investment in Real Estate.

NYC tops London for real estate investors

The popularity of NYC and Washington real estate is not a big surprise. Check out our 2010 articles – Inside New York Hotels – and - Moving To Washington. NYC, Washington, and Boston came in as the top three U.S. cities for foreign investment. New York City and Washington received four times more votes than third-place Boston. Yet in 2010, Boston has moved up from its fourth place position in the previous year. Take a look back at our 2010 analysis of Boston Real Estate – Better & Brighter Market.

U.S. Cities Lead Way for Global Foreign Real Estate Investment

Surprising statistics came to light about preferred U.S. property types for investment in 2011. Multi-family homes, apartments, retail, and hotels are the top four favorites among foreign investors. Offices ranked lower and industrial spaces showed up as the least favorite. Usually, offices are the top pick of institutional investors.

The drop in popularity of office space might be tied to high unemployment rates. Although there is growth in employment numbers, buyers could be feeling somewhat uncertain about investing in offices and industrial property. Yet foreign investors have overall confidence in the U.S. real estate market. Investors interested in U.S. cities quadruple the number of foreign buyers wanting to invest in the UK.

Are You Feeling Confident About The U.S. Real Estate Market?

Image courtesy of usbalkanssummit.com

Dec 20

Townhouse Sales – Going To Town

by Mary Teresa Fowler
Townhouse Sales

Within the US and Canada, sales of townhouses are 'going to town' (moving ahead in a vigorous manner). The term 'townhouse' has varied meanings in different countries. Historically in the UK and Ireland, 'townhouse' referred to the residence of a member of the aristocracy in a capital or major city. Famous townhouses are 10 Downing Street, residence of Prime Minister David Cameron, or Clarence House, home of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and now the residence of Charles, Prince of Wales.

What are Townhouses?

Today in North America, this type of housing (either single-family or multiple-family dwellings) has a small "footprint." Usually, a townhouse is within minutes (either walking or with public transportation) of a city's business and industrial areas. Townhouses have been compared to a compromise between a condo and a regular home.

This housing category can include homes in the luxury market as well as more affordable houses. Superb examples of luxurious townhouses can be found in New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Why do People Buy Townhouses?

Part of the current appeal of townhouses is the wide range of prices. There is a townhouse for every budget and all age groups. Townhouses interest everyone from first-time buyers to empty-nesters who are downsizing to a smaller home. A first-time home buyer views a townhouse as an affordable alternative to a detached house. Building fees can cover issues such as snow removal, landscaping, or maintenance of the building's exterior.

Sometimes there is more demand for townhouses than can be supplied by the market. Wendy Jabusch, general manager of Hawthorne Homes, speaks about Canadian real estate and townhouses.

"Recent research shows that available townhome product -- homes started or available for pre-sale -- is only 14 per cent of the new construction market. The remaining 86 per cent of multi-family product is apartments," says Wendy Jabusch of Hawthorne Homes.

What does the Future Hold for Townhouses?

There has been a recent increase in townhouse developments. Construction starts of townhouses counted in at 250 in Calgary, Alberta during October, 2010. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, that statistic showed the strongest month in 21 years for townhouse starts. Of course, there were fewer new townhouse constructions in 2009 because builders were working though units already in production.

Home buyers gravitate to townhouses for several reasons. Townhouses offer good value, attractive design, and lifestyle benefits. President and partner Tim Logel of Cardel Lifestyles says that he has found that townhouses have maintained their popularity since Cardel's first development in 2002. Logel is optimistic about townhouse sales in the coming year.

"I expect 2011 to be a strong year for townhome sales as affordability and the job market improves in Calgary," says Tim Logel of Cardel Lifestyles.

City homebuyers go to town

Manhattan Townhouses

New York City townhouses never lose their appeal. It is easier to get financing for a city townhouse than a NYC co-op. Generally, lenders look upon a Manhattan townhouse purchase as a wise investment. If you buy a townhouse as an investment, rental income can take care of the monthly mortgage payment.

Financing A Manhattan Townhouse

Are You Planning To Buy A Townhouse?

Image courtesy of activerain.com

Boston Real Estate Market

With its home values increasing by almost $11 billion in 2010, the Boston housing market is going in the opposite direction of the national trend. According to Zillow.com, Boston real estate is a better and brighter market. Since the city is now in a more favorable position than the rest of the country, its market will enter 2011 in great shape.

Home Values

As the housing market stabilizes, Boston should continue as a bright spot. Keep in mind that the city's current home values are an impressive lot. After all, U.S. home values are expected to lose $1.7 trillion this year. That decrease is 63% more than the $1 trillion decline in 2009. The latest figures confirm that total value lost since the 2006 market peak has been $9 trillion.

Home values had been appreciating from 2003 to 2005 (and in certain instances, during 2006). When subprime mortgages became popular, home owners believed that their houses would continue to increase in value. The rate was unsustainable, however, even with the help of government interventions such as the expired Federal Homebuyers' Tax Credit.

The market referred to as the 'Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area' was just one of two shining lights in the recent statistics. San Diego also showed an increase of $10.2 billion in home values.

Surprising Statistics

Now the Boston statistics were a bit of a surprise – at least to Robert Murphy, an economist at Boston College. He referenced the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (a measure for the U.S. residential housing market). Murphy believed that they reported home values in Greater Boston had not fallen as far as in other U.S. regions.

Yet despite his surprise at the latest statistics, this economist had to admit that Boston is enjoying a positive economy. Murphy pointed to two main industries (health care and education) stabilizing the Boston housing market as well as employment sectors. He reminds everyone, however, that Boston home values are still down $105 billion from their peak in 2005.

"The state’s unemployment rate is 8 percent, vs. 10 percent nationwide, so we’ve done better in that sense too,” says Robert Murphy, Boston economist, explaining the city's encouraging economy.

Foreclosure Effect

Is it possible that foreclosures are affecting recent statistics about Boston home values? Probably not! Yet Boston has seen its share of foreclosures.

There were 11,334 foreclosures from January-October in Massachusetts – an increase of 7,710 from 2009. Median prices for single-family homes, however, have increased since July. It will take six months (or even longer) though for downward pressure on median home prices to be felt in the market.

Hub home values up by $11B

Falling Home Values

New York City had the biggest decline at $103 billion and Chicago experienced $48 billion in losses. The value of homes in the Chicago metropolitan area is expected to fall 7.1% (to $625.8 billion) this year compared to 2009. The predicted loss of $48 billion is a better showing than the 2009 $66.7 billion loss. A local real-estate agent believes that Chicago home values will decline another 2%-3% during 2011. That fall would be a result of increased foreclosures and short sales.

Chicago’s home values dropping — but 2010 better than 2009

What Is The State Of Home Values In Your Area?

Tips and Advice for Home Buyers and Sellers

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