Banker & Tradesman “New Construction Slow To Recover”

New Construction Slow To Recover
Permits Up From Recent Lows


By Colleen M. Sullivan for Banker & Tradesman


Three years into the beginning of the housing recovery, one particular sub-sector of the housing market is still lagging behind: new construction. New construction has bounced back a bit from the depths of the housing crash: Data from the U.S. Census show 5,076 single-family home building permits issued in the Bay State through September, a 61 percent bump from their 2009 nadir, when only 3,153 were issued for that same period. But not only are those figures down slightly from the same point last year – 5,114 permits were issued in the first nine months of 2013, a 0.7 percent decline – they’re a molehill compared to the typical pre-crash figures. In 2004, for example, 10,591 single-family permits were issued through the first nine months. The relative dearth of new homes in part reflects a broader market shift: Across the country, home ownership rates have declined in the aftermath of the recession, as higher student loan debts and tightened credit guidelines have kept more households renting. Combined with a preference for denser, more urban living, that’s pushed builders to focus on bigger multifamily projects – while single-family permits made up two-thirds of the total permits issued in Massachusetts in 2004, in 2014 they’re less than half.


It’s not that the buyers aren’t out there. But “the challenge is that new construction is so time-consuming, and so laborious for the builders to meet all the local codes and go through the process, that the new construction is priced higher. If you’re in the Newton market, the Brookline market, there’s an appetite for new construction,” but entry-level buyers may find themselves out of luck, said Sam Schneiderman, principal broker with the Greater Boston Home Team and a buyer’s agents specialist.


Nationwide, the gap between the price of new construction and an existing home has widened to historic levels, hovering at more than $70,000 in recent months, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors. Massachusetts is no exception to the trend. For example, according to data from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, the median sale price for a single-family home in Plymouth through the first nine months of the year was $307,000. In the same town, new homes listed for sale on real estate portal Zillow range from $326,00 to $534,000.


It’s a similar story all over the Bay State, at a range of price points: Median sale price in Wrentham in the same period was $415,000; new home listings ranged from $538,000 to $573,000. In Holliston, median price was $439,000 through the first nine months; for sale new construction listing range from $748,000 to $830,000. In Reading, the median was $485,000; new construction listing range from $323,000 to $450,000. In Westfield, median price was $197,000, for construction listing range from $319,000 to $380,000.


Such gaps reflect the high – and rising – land costs, which have made building spec housing particularly difficult in recent years, said Amy Mizner, co-broker/owner of Benoit Mizner Simon. Even in her brokerage’s home base of Weston and Wellesley, “Everybody wants new construction. They want high ceilings, open spaces, and they don’t want to do the work. But we really don’t have a whole lot of land in the Metro-West,” she said. “With spec properties, the builders are having a hard time finding teardown lots that are affordable enough to do speculative homes.” That means that even for buyers who can afford new construction, acquiring such a property may mean commissioning a full-custom build, and signing on for months of delays and construction head-aches. “A lot of buyers, when they find out what it’s going to take to do custom, they’ll find they get better value if they [purchase an existing high-end home] and do some tweaks,” said Mizner.



Article was published in Banker & Tradesman on November 17, 2014.


Open Houses

Come by the Open Houses we have showing this Weekend!


Saturday, November 22nd:



6 Oakdale Avenue, offered for $1,575,000 – 12-1:30pm


Sunday, November 23rd:



330 Marshall Street, offered for $599,900 – 11-1pm



8 Meadowview Road, offered for $649,000 – 11-12:30pm

24 Claypit Hill Road, offered for $1,375,000 – 12-1:30pm

139  Buckskin Drive, offered for $1,790,000 – 2-3:30pm



6 Oakdale Avenue, offered for $1,575,000 – 12-1:30pm

14 Benvenue Street, offered for $1,475,000 – 1-2:30pm



22 Sears Road, offered for $3,998,000 – 12-1:30pm

281 Glen Road, offered for $1,185,000 – 12-1:30pm

56 Chestnut Street, offered for $3,695,000 – 12:30-2pm

500 South Ave, offered for $2,295,000 – 1-2:30pm

32 Forest Ridge Road, offered for $1,435,000 – 2-3:30pm

501 Glen Road, offered for $2,295,000 – 2-3:30pm

1 Glen House Way, offered for $3,195,000 – 2-3:30pm

215 South Avenue, offered for $2,695,000 – 3-4:30pm

4 Massachusetts Towns Were Dubbed the Most Educated Areas in America

Four Massachusetts towns are among the country’s top 10 most educated areas, according to a recent report by personal finance management website NerdWallet.


Out of the top 100 U.S. cities listed, Wellesley came in third, Brookline fourth, Newton sixth and Lexington seventh in terms of residents’ educational attainment.


Each town was scored according to the levels of education its residents achieved. The percentage of residents with a high school diploma counted for 40 percent of the total score, the percentage with a bachelor’s degree counted for 30 percent and master’s degrees, professional degrees and doctorates counted for 10 percent each.


According to the 2013 U.S. census, roughly 90 percent of citizens over the age of 25 have high school degrees and 30 percent hold bachelor’s degrees. Numbers decrease as the level of education increases, with 12 percent of citizens holding master’s degrees and about three percent holding doctorate or professional degrees.


So, how do the state’s smartest cities stack up?



Wellesley (photographed above), the home of Wellesley College and Babson, is apparently the most-educated town in Massachusetts, with almost 83 percent of residents having at least a bachelor’s degree.


The Stats:


  • Residents with a high school diploma: 89.75 percent
  • Residents with a bachelor’s degree: 82.72 percent
  • Residents with a Master’s degree: 49.7 percent
  • Residents with a doctorate: 8.23 percent
  • Residents with a professional degree: 12.8 percent
  • Overall Nerd Wallet Score: 87.94


Click here for full article.

New Listing Wellesley

103 Livingston Road, Wellesley MA ~ $2,650,000

Gracious center entrance Colonial beautifully sited on over an acre of land offers scenic view of the Charles River. Gracious foyer leads to expansive fireplaced living room and stunning dining room with hardwood floors. Bright and sunny library leads to private brick patio overlooking serene backyard. Generous kitchen opens to inviting family room with stunning oversized stone fireplace and back stair case leading to spectacular second floor play room. Master suite with four additional bedrooms and a three full bathrooms complete this magnificent property. Fantastic opportunity!

For more information please contact Debi Benoit.

103 Livingston - New Front - RGB

New Listing Wellesley

106 Crest Road, Wellesley MA ~ $1,195,000

Stunning stucco Colonial in the heart of desirable College Heights neighborhood offers exquisite architectural details throughout. Expansive foyer welcomes you into this spectacular property. Sophisticated living room with oversized fireplace and hardwood floors opens to dining room with plantation shutters. Sun splashed beautifully updated kitchen includes picture window, built- ins and dining area which opens to family room with French doors. Master suite with full bath provides serene retreat. Two additional generous bedrooms complete the second floor. Outdoor space offers a secluded patio surrounded by lush gardens. Close to town, train and shops, fantastic location!

For more information please contact Debi Benoit.

106Crest - New Front - RGB

Open Houses

Come by the open houses we have showing this Sunday, November 16th!


16 Old Colony Drive, offered for $2,295,000 – 2-3:30pm

24 Grand Hill Drive, offered for $1,129,000 – 2:30-4pm


10 Sienna Lane, offered for $695,000 – 2-3:30pm


63 Greenwood Street, offered for $775,000 – 12-1:30pm


8 Meadowview Road, offered for $649,000 – 11-12:30pm

24 Claypit Hill Road, offered for $1,375,000 – 2:30-4pm

139  Buckskin Drive, offered for $1,790,000 – 2:30-4pm


21 Westerly Street, offered for $595,000 – 12-1:30pm

20 Boulder Road, offered for $1,395,000 – 12-1:30pm

12 Glen Road, offered for $1,395,000 – 12-1:30pm

26B Pleasant Street, offered for $599,000 – 12-2pm

6 Oakdale Avenue, offered for $1,575,000 – 12:30-2pm

14 Benvenue Street, offered for $1,475,000 – 1-2:30pm

93 Sagamore Road, offered for $1,895,000 – 2-3:30pm

56 Windsor Road, offered for $3,895,000 – 2-3:30pm

115 Lowell Road, offered for $1,850,000 – 2-3:30pm

50 Temple Road, offered for $2,645,000 – 2-3:30pm


32 Forest Ridge Road, offered for $1,435,000 – 12-1:30pm

501 Glen Road, offered for $2,295,000 – 12-1:30pm

56 Chestnut Street, offered for $3,695,000 – 12:30-2pm

500 South Ave, offered for $2,295,000 – 1-2:30pm

281 Glen Road, offered for $1,185,000 – 2-3:30pm

22 Sears Road, offered for $3,998,000 – 2:30-4pm

Funny and Not So Funny Open House Anecdotes

By Debi Benoit


Public open houses are one of the most useful real estate tools employed to sell a home. One recent statistic put out by the National Association of Realtors that said that 1 in 10 buyers find their dream house at an open house. In this current market, that number is possibly even larger. Every Sunday many real buyers, some unrepresented by real estate brokers, drive around town and drop in to see what’s on the market. If you’re in real estate and you’re not out there doing open houses, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Sunday open houses are like a big party! They can more than just fun, they can actually be very funny, even horribly funny at times. Here are a few examples of open houses from over the years to show you what NOT to do if you want to sell your home:


Unprepared…I arrive at my new listing, a large newish Colonial, about 15 minutes early, to find three to four couples already parked in front, eager to come in. As I go through the house, turning on lights, I hear the sound of water running. Much to my horror, I find Mrs. Seller in the shower. She’s running a bit late…but no worries, let them come in! Sadly, none of that first group of buyers even got a glimpse of the master bedroom!


Too personal…On a similar vein, I am once again going room by room to make sure the house is in open house condition and I get to the master bedroom walk in closet only to find peekaboo portraits staring at me from every wall and shelf! Sellers take heed, you are not for sale here!


Too wet…This time no one is to blame. It’s a beautiful day, I’m heading to the lower level, and the lovely new carpet is under about a foot of water. Sadly, the extra-large water tank chose this very morning to fail and its contents covered the entire basement.


Pets and more…I like animals well enough, but not at open houses. At best, pets are distracting. Buyers leave an open house where the family dog is gentle, obedient and sweet and all they remember about the house is the dog. At worst, buyers run from the house in fear, sneezing with allergies, holding their noses. I’ve seen talking birds screeching obscenities at guests, cats slinking around ankles and darting for the door. I’ve also seen dead mice still in their traps, bats in the attics and ant traps set all over kitchen counters…just not very appealing or conducive to selling the house.


Suspicious and creepy…When buyers walk through a house, they want to see the whole house. Locked doors, even in the most benign situations, make the buyer feel you’ve got something to hide. Never throw all your mess in a bedroom and lock the door, keep a grouchy dog in the mudroom and lock the door, store your guns in the den and lock the door. Instead, throw up the blinds, open the curtains (and the doors), turn on the lights! Make the house look inviting!


Dangerous and addictive…This little tip is not so funny. In all my years of holding open houses, I have never had to deal with a robbery but recently experienced an issue regarding prescription drugs. I always tell my sellers to clear their medicine cabinets and bedside tables of any and all pain killers or anything that might tempt an addict. It is very rare, but it can happen.


So sellers, put your flowers on the table, air out the house and turn on some soft jazz…it’s party time!



New Listing Wellesley

6 Oakdale Avenue, Wellesley MA ~ $1,575,000

Meticulously maintained center entrance Colonial offers exquisite custom details throughout and an open, expansive floorplan. Sun filled foyer opens to elegant living room with fireplace and over sized windows. Sophisticated dining room features hardwood floors and wainscoting. Recently renovated kitchen with granite counter tops, eat in area and center island opens to stunning fireplaced family room with exterior access to generous deck. Serene master suite includes walk in closet, private balcony overlooking level, landscaped grounds and spa like bath. Fantastic walk out lower level with playroom, exercise room and potential au pair suite complete this spectacular property. Pristine move in condition with stunning details! Well known builder.

For more information please contact Debi Benoit.


New Listing Needham

128 Arch Street, Needham MA ~ $1,225,000

Stunning Colonial in sought after Birds Hill neighborhood, beautifully sited on corner lot. This expansive house offers a flexible and open floor plan. Elegant living room, set off by beautiful pillars, includes hardwood floors and fireplace. Gracious dining room offers dental molding and wainscoting. Bright and sunny kitchen features granite counter tops, generous storage, dining area and opens to deck overlooking lovely grounds. Fantastic fireplaced family room with recessed lighting and hardwood floors completes the first floor. Master bedroom offers ample closet space and serene spa like bath. Sensational additional 1,000 sq. ft. lower level includes playroom, office/ au-pair suite, exercise room and full bath. Truly, a wonderful opportunity in a superb location!

For more information please contact Debi Benoit.