News from our CEO, Larry Rideout

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Companywide Meeting
Larry Rideout, CEO

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Marketing Director, Mike Zarella

Twice a year we hold companywide meetings bringing together in one place our staff and agents from all eight of our different offices (the most recent was held last week). These meetings are a reminder that we truly are a family here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

Our team of roughly 170 agents cover a wide range of areas from the inner city to the suburbs. As Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” This quote is applicable to our agents as they continue to lead the market in spite of the inevitable obstacles they encounter.

This meeting gave us the opportunity to include a few guest presenters including Robert Byrne, Vice President of Sotheby’s Affiliates Services North East, Jessica Prince from Dalton and Finegold, and the Partners and Managing Broker from our largest affiliate to the North, Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty.

Pam Perkins Partner and Vice President of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty told us of their recent merger and expansion. They now have 23 offices covering New Hampshire and Vermont. Our relocation department works closely with Four Season Sotheby’s International Realty as many of our clients look to relocate in or out of the city.

Robert Byrne informed us that Sotheby’s International Realty represented a total of 87,000 transactions in 2014. We then proudly went over our own numbers from 2014 which were remarkable. Despite the treacherous winter, we closed on average 20 transactions per week equalling over 1100 transactions for the year. A total of 593 listings were sold with an average sale price of $892,828 breaking down to 11.4 listings sold per week. Incredible numbers by an incredible team!

We are looking forward to another great year in 2015 as we are growing once again! We have just finished our office space and will be opening in Cambridge, Massachusetts this April. As long as there is a Sotheby’s option, why would you choose anyone else?

Boston Real Estate News: Buyer Demand Strong for the Month of February

DSC_0049The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) and the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported on home sales in February both demonstrating that inventory was extremely short supplied for the month. Record snowfall kept a significant number of sellers out of the market.

According to MAR single-family home sales in Massachusetts as a whole were down less than one percent compared to February of last year. A shortage of homes for sale caused an increase of single-family prices. In the condominium market sales were down while prices were up less than one and a half percent.

“Being down less than one percent from last year is positive because we continued to be plagued by low inventory,” said 2015 MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald. “Because February was fraught with so many storms, sellers have been holding off putting their homes on the market. This should translate into a very active spring, which will be good for the economy and the real estate community as a whole.”

In Boston buyer demand remained historically strong in February as low mortgage rates, less stringent credit standards, and gains in both the labor and stock markets spurred activity during the early winter and holiday period, according to the data issued by GBAR.

Sales of detached single-family homes rose 5 percent on an annual basis from 520 homes closed last February to 546 in February 2015. That’s the second highest February sales total in Boston for the past eight years (equaling sales volume for Feb. 2013) and tenth best on record. Additionally, it was the eighth busiest February on record for condominium sales, even though the number of closings slipped a modest 1.8 percent over the past 12 months from 450 in February 2014 to 442 this February.

“Up until the first blizzard in late January, we were enjoying a busier than normal winter season,” noted GBAR President David McCarthy. “Certainly, the snow and ice made it more difficult to list and show property, but the buyers still kept coming out. It’s the lack of listings more than the weather that was the most frustrating and bigger roadblock to sales during February,” he stated.

Both single-family and condominium inventories fell in the Boston market for the month of February putting upward pressure on prices. Because the weather caused many sellers to withhold their property consumers are confident and eager to buy according to David McCarthy. This pent up demand is sure to cause a surge of sales this spring market as owners are better able to ready their homes for sale.

Source: MAR, GBAR

Sotheby’s International Realty News: Brand opens in Brazil

BrazilYet again the Sotheby’s International Realty brand is broadening its reach to encompass more offices and clients having a strong presence across all corners of the globe.  Just this week, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC announced that Imobiliaria Bossa Nova in Brazil has joined our extraordinary network.
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Led by owners Luciano Amado as president and Marcello Romero as vice president the firm will now operate as Bossa Nova Sotheby’s International Realty. Located at Alameda Gabriel Monteiro da Silva 2027, Pinheiros, São Paulo, Bossa Nova Sotheby’s International Realty solely represents the Sotheby’s brand throughout Brazil expanding the reach of white glove services.
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According to Romero, the new affiliation with the Sotheby’s International Realty brand represents the opportunity for them to expand and grow. “The support of this brand will allow us to supply our team with new technologies, training and market intelligence, combined with an extraordinary inventory in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and top beach and countryside locations,” said Amado. “Thanks to this affiliation, we now have direct access to a global market through the Sotheby’s International Realty brand’s 760 offices worldwide.”
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“São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are exciting markets that encompass extraordinary properties in a broadly diverse destination, and they provide a highly influential source of avid real estate buyers,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “We are pleased to welcome Luciano, Marcello and their team to our global network.”
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Here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty we would like to congratulate Luciano Amado, Marcello Romero, their team, and of course the Sotheby’s brand for this significant occasion. As time goes on, our network continues to grow and the lengths to which we can see our influence is becoming increasingly broader and more impressive. The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 16,500 sales associates located in approximately 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide.

Other notable brand openings as of late include:

More information: Sotheby’s International Realty

Boston Real Estate News: Green Living has become the new way of life in Boston’s Fort Hill Neighborhood

Just one mile west of the South End resides one of Boston’s latest green living developments, Urbanica E-Homes. Urbanica Inc., a Boston- based design/development firm, is teaming up with MERGE architects in the construction and design of this brand new, energy efficient development in Fort Hill at the corner of Highland and Dorr Streets. Owners at Urbanica E-Homes can enjoy living in healthy indoor air quality, reduce their carbon footprint, and more importantly reduce their monthly electric bill. Completion of construction, expected early summer, will result in seven family size, sustainable townhouses.
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The seven units will range in size from 1,702 to 1,982 +/- square feet with three bedrooms, two full and one half bathroom. Additionally, each unit comes with a secured basement storage space and one deeded parking space (additional spaces available for purchase). All prices available upon request.

74H Front Rendering

The form and orientation of Urbanica E-Homes serve to maximize natural daylight and solar gain for this photovoltaic array generating green energy on-site. Green and sustainable features of Urbanica E-Homes include solar photovoltaic panels (for purchase or lease), double insulated walls and air tight construction, high performance triple pane windows, heat recovery ventilation, efficient ductless mini split air conditioning system, energy star appliances, and low flow plumbing.
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Fort Hill is one of Boston’s last “hidden gem” neighborhoods where green living is prevalent among new buildings. Located conveniently at 74 Highland Street/ 1-11 Dorr Street one can enjoy the comforts of an abundance of living space just a few minutes from downtown. Each unit is equipped with a patio and rear balcony terrace overlooking the backyard and three of which have a roof deck overlooking beautiful views of Boston. These spacious new homes will have easy access to I-90, I-93, Route 9, Route 28, and Massachusetts Avenue.

Urbanica, Inc. has been the leading developer of green construction homes and is known for its outstanding design-oriented development and value-added projects. Their development portfolio includes E+ Homes: 226-232 Highland also in Fort Hill completed in the spring of 2013.
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The award winning architectural firm MERGE architects designed the development and each of the units are exclusively listed by Brian Perry of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

For more information visit: www.urbanica-ehomes.com

UrbanicaE-Homes

Sotheby’s International Realty News: Brand now enters Andorra

Andorra-300x200Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC has announced that Finques 3 Cases in Andorra has joined our extraordinary luxury real estate network. Established in 2000, Finques 3 Cases is  now operating as Andorra Sotheby’s International Realty. Owned by CEO, Joan Rafel Socías Tomás , and COO, Narcís Socías Tomàs this firm will serve the high-end real estate market throughout the Principality of Andorra. All international relations for Andorra Sotheby’s International Realty are in the hands of Ralph Luenenschloss.
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“Our expansion into Andorra continues our commitment to providing access to the Sotheby’s International Realty network’s exclusive real estate services in key countries within Europe and around the world,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.  “Andorra is a booming market that is garnering local as well as international investor interest. It offers the opportunity to enjoy a unique mountain lifestyle in the middle of the Pyrenees on the border between Spain and France.  In the winter it is a beautiful ski resort area, and in the summer, other outdoor activities as well.”
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According to Luenenschloss, the firm offers clients a full service experience.  “Andorra is one of the safest countries in the world and it offers a new and modern legal framework that makes it very interesting for international investors, entrepreneurs and public figures,” he said.  “We help our clients to not only find the ideal property but also help with anything else they may need including working through the Andorran residency process, and connecting them to local resources and services like banks, tax advisors and lawyers. We focus on providing solutions and developing ideas to serve the needs of our clients.  Our professional team offers support in multiple languages including Catalán, Spanish, French, Portuguese, English, German and Russian.”
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The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has over 16,500 sales associated located in approximately 760 offices in 60 countries and territories worldwide. We at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty would like to sincerely congratulate Andorra Sotheby’s International Realty on this extraordinary achievement. We look forward to meeting and working Ralph and the Andorra Sotheby’s International Realty team.

For more information on some of the brand’s other recent office openings, have a look at the various locations below.

More Information: Sotheby’s International Realty

Real Estate News: $131 Million in Projects Approved by BRA Expected to Include Nearly 140 New Housing Units

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has approved five major proposals throughout South Boston, East Boston, Brighton, Dorchester, and Charlestown. The Board of Directors approved a total of $131 million for these new developments which will include approximately 140 housing units.
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According to the BRA, several of the proposals on the agenda involve adaptive reuses of existing buildings including the former Gate of Heaven School in South Boston, the Boston Teachers Union in Dorchester, and a historic building in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

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The Former Gate of Heaven School in South Boston will be redeveloped into 26 condominium units, with a mix of one-, two, and three-bedroom residences when complete. There will also be 40 on-site parking spaces. The developer hopes to begin renovations of the existing facade in the fall being sure to preserve the historical details of the building. With a total of 33,238 square feet and project cost of $7,350,000 the developer has set a goal of completion for within a year.

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In Brighton a project anticipated to begin in the third quarter of this year will transform an underutilized five-story office building into 80 new apartments totaling a project cost of $9 million. Located at 1505 Commonwealth Avenue this project encompasses 67,000 square feet and is expected to offer a mix of studios, one-and two-bedroom units, one-bedroom lofts. There will be 80 on-site parking spaces for residents as well as a landscaped plaza that opens onto Commonwealth Ave.

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Just a short distance from the East Boston Greenway and Maverick Square MBTA Station in Jeffries Point what was once the site of a gas station will be redeveloped into 33 units of housing. Located at 320 Maverick Street in East Boston, the project with a total cost of $7 million and 36,275 square feet will contain a mix of one-and two-bedroom units along with 32 on-site parking spaces.

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In Dorchester’s Columbia Point, the Boston Teachers Union will replace its existing headquarters with a brand new building and parking structure as part of a two-phase project. With a total cost of $23 million for the total project the two phases will encompass 52,469 square feet. The first phase will include demolition of the existing building, and construction of a new three-story building supported by 135 surface parking spaces. The second phase will include a 300-space, two-story parking facility.

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In Charlestown’s Navy Yard, the Chain Forge Building (also known as Building 105), will be redeveloped into a 230-key limited service and extended stay hotel with 6,000 square feet of restaurant space. The project will cost $85 million in total and will encompass 180,000 square feet. The developer plans to construct within the existing footprint of the vacant building constructing several interior floors as well as an additional floor on one side of the property. With the help of a valet parking service, the hotel will manage roughly 200 off-site parking spaces for guests.
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In total these projects will create approximately 140 new units of housing and a total of 500 construction jobs throughout South Boston, Brighton, East Boston, Dorchester, and Charlestown.

Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority

Real Estate News: Boston Developer Plans to Bring New Life to Dorchester

XSTU0758.JPGA new mixed- use residential and retail project is set to go up just half a mile from the Savin Hill MBTA station at the intersections of Pleasant Street and Greenmount Street in Dorchester’s Savin Hill.

According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a site that has been vacant for over a decade will be the home of a brand new development. When completed the project is said to consist of 260 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and a 400-space parking garage off Dorchester Avenue.
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“In general terms, I think people are very excited about the project — excited about something happening there and adding some vitality. That area at night tends to be a little quieter, so I think with people living there and businesses, it will be a great addition.” said Eileen Fenton, chairwoman of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association’s Planning Committee.

Atlas, a Boston developer, has a phased development plan for this new Savin Hill Community. According to the Boston Herald, the first phase, on the northern portion of the site, would include 64 two-bedroom condos in eight four-story buildings along Pleasant and Greenmount streets, and 50 condos or rental units in a five-story building.
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The second phase of the development, on the southern portion, would include two, six-story mixed-use buildings with 145 residential units along Hancock and Dorchester Avenue, with a 20,000-square-foot landscaped roof deck for tenants. Other planned amenities include a pool, a fitness facility, and a four-level garage.
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Atlas has been getting word out early to the community working with a Savin Hill resident and real estate consultant to handle the project’s community and government relations. Being sure to take all feedback into consideration with their planning, Atlas is closely working with the community and abutters to be sure this mixed-use development will benefit all Dorchester residents.

Source: Boston Herald

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty: News from our Director of Productivity, Colleen Barry

How Accurate are AVMs?
Colleen Barry

In the last 10-15 years, MLS services have opened listings to third-party aggregators (Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com, etc). These websites provide a number of non-property-search features, from home design ideas to home value estimates. To arrive at the value estimates, most of these sites are using pricing systems called Automated Valuation Models or AVMs. These are programs that use aggregated data to provide estimates of value. The challenge is that there is an art to pricing a home and the AVMs are falling short.

We recently conducted a market study to test the accuracy of one AVM. What we found was alarming: the AVM values were typically significantly higher than the home’s ultimate sale price. While the average was 6.75% over, some of the AVM values were as far over the sale price as 28.58% or as far under as 41.01%! This was alarming to us because some sellers try to use these AVMs to decided on a list price for their home.
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A home’s list price is part of the overall strategy to position the home for sale. If it is too far under or over the market range, the home may not yield the highest possible ultimate sale price. Pricing a home for sale is an art. The agent takes many things into consideration — criteria that an AVM is simply unable to see: condition, curb appeal, interior design, staging/furnishing, finishes, and other characteristics that affect the overall value of a home. These are items not currently used by the many AVMs available to consumers.
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A person’s home is often his or her most valuable possession. Therefore, we recommend hiring an experienced agent to conduct a professional market analysis and create a strategy that will help you achieve your goals.

 

Sotheby’s International Realty: Best of 2014 Significant Sales

Sotheby’s International Realty has just released their latest issue of Significant Sales as well as the Best of 2014 issue. The Best of 2014 issue displays the top properties sold in our brand throughout the entire year. Significant Sales was designed to be a powerful tool in local marketing for listing distinctive properties as it showcases the global reach and power of our broad network.
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The Best of 2014 features a $58 million sale in Hong Kong as the top property for the year.  A $56 million home in New York and $42 million property in the Bahamas round out the top three.

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$58,000,000 | Hong Kong | Hong Kong Sotheby’s International Realty

Hong Kong – This luxuriously presented townhouse is located in a prestigious area surrounded by rolling hills and overlooks the city, offering a well-appointed contemporary interior and amazing outdoor space on the rooftop terrace. There also is a huge private garden that comes with a swimming pool. This spacious, light-filled home features high ceilings to accentuate the elegant overall design. The house is also refurbished in white marble walls and flooring throughout, with every level in the home constructed with a separated open staircase and a private elevator with access to every level. There is a dome design window ceiling, which completes the overall luxurious design.

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$56,000 | New York | Sotheby’s International Realty East Side Manhattan Brokerage


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New York – This property features the exceptional personal service of Park Hyatt’s new five-star flagship hotel. Located across from Central Park and Columbus Circle, One57 is surrounded by the city’s best restaurants, shopping, entertainment and the cultural offerings of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Broadway.

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$42,000,000 | Bahamas | Lyford Cay Sotheby’s International Realty

Bahamas – This property offers its owners their own private beach in a secure community. Meticulously maintained, the spacious 30,000 square foot family home is situated on two acres with 590 feet of canal frontage overlooking the Lyford Cay Marina. Included in the sale is a 1.4 acre beachfront lot across the street. Amenities include a tennis court, pool, Jacuzzi, 200 feet of dock and all of the necessary improvements for easy tropical living.
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19 Robertson Drive, Sag Harbor, NY

$31,750,000 | New York | Sotheby’s International Realty Southampton Brokerage

New York – Brilliantly conceived and built, this circa 2005 Lutyens-inspired stone and stucco mansion is perfectly positioned on six acres of waterfront property with a deep water dock. The 10,000 square foot house has well-proportioned rooms including a formal living room and gathering room, both with stone fireplaces, and circular alcove. Ideal for entertaining or relaxing on any scale, the house is complete with a paneled billiards room with fireplace, a fully-appointed media room, reading room, gym, a chef ’s dream kitchen and formal dining room. There also are seven fireplaces, an elevator, six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Facing west with breathtaking sunsets, the exteriors are as impressive as the house. An extensive covered terrace, with year-round stone hot tub, overlooks the heated Gunite swimming pool and 350 feet of beachfront. There are also tennis and basketball courts and a separate four-car garage.
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$28,000,000 | Australia | Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty

Australia – One of Australia’s most outstanding homes, this property is situated in Point Piper’s best position, north facing with uninterrupted views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The home has an exceptional and seldom offered street to water position with absolute deep water frontage and boat house on title with full slipway and deep water jetty. Designed by renowned Gergely & Pinter Architects, the home is ideal for entertaining on a grand scale, overlooking the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour. The views encapsulate 180 degrees from the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and right through to Manly. The substantial accommodation and facilities include six bedroom suites and eight-and-a-half bathrooms, as well as separate self-contained apartment with private entrance.

Click here for the full Best of 2014 Significant Sales Issue. 

Click here for the full issue of the December 2014 Significant Sales.

International Real Estate News: Falling Euro Presents Opportunities for American Real Estate Buyers

American buyers have been flooding Europe with inquiries since January as the American dollar steadily grows stronger against the euro. Since the euro has taken a tumble many foreign buyers now have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of owning a property in a prime European location.

From its low point last year to today, the dollar has strengthened by 26% against the euro. The last time the dollar traded this high against the euro was over a decade ago in 2003.
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Alexander Kraft of Sotheby’s International Realty Monte Carlo stated, “Sotheby’s International Realty in France and Monaco currently has 30% to 35% more American clients than in 2012 and 2013. Between price declines and the slide of the euro, Americans could now pay 40% less in Paris than they would have in 2012.”

As time goes on and the euro continues to slide foreign buyers are more and more enjoying discounts in prices. Luxury real estate specialists in Spain and Portugal reported that Americans traditionally make up just 1% to 2% of their client base but last year that figure grew significantly to 5% and continues to grow. Meanwhile in France one real estate firm stated that 19% of their company was foreign buyers up from 14% since 2010.
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Americans purchasing real estate in Europe have benefitted greatly from holding off on closings. Every point the euro drops buyers save more money in some cases over $100,000.

European Buyers

Now with the exchange rate Lane Auten and his wife save nearly $500 less a month on their rent in Paris.

Lane Auten who moved to Barcelona with his wife continues to invest and use the falling euro to his advantage. Almost a year ago, Auten went in on a deal with investors on a historic building in the city’s Gothic neighborhood. His personal stake was €1.2 million, or roughly $1.62 million at the exchange rate last summer. When he closed in February, he paid around $1.35 million saving over $250,000.
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Mr. Auten and his wife who have been renting a two-bedroom apartment in the city’s trendy Gracia neighborhood was originally paying €2,000 a month, or roughly $2,650 at the time. Now with the exchange rate their rent has decreased steadily now paying nearly $500 less a month. With costs down significantly, they decided to purchase additional space for guests and in January leased a studio apartment with a large terrace upstairs for €1,000 a month, or $1,100.
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Meanwhile a couple that resides in the San Francisco Bay Area has long had a pied-a-terre in Paris. Recently they have decided to upgrade in search for a larger apartment in a more central area. Sure enough they found a high ceilinged one bedroom in the Marais neighborhood and went into contract in November. For €785,000 at the time of contract they would have been paying $980,000 but now they plan to close in the beginning of April and with today’s exchange rate they will be paying over $100,000 less than the original price.

The exchange rate is now drawing American buyers back into a market overflowing with high-end inventory. If you are looking to relocate or purchase a second home in one of these prime European locations now is the time to begin your search as the American dollar continues to strengthen against the euro.

Source: The Wall Street Journal