Extraordinary Pools: A Feature of Listings From Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

Where will you be spending your holiday weekend?
Splash into the 4th of July with one of these Extraordinary Pools!

POWDER HOUSE

3 Powder House Road |Dover, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

HOWLETT71 Howlett Street | Topsfield, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

FOX HILL USE300 Fox Hill | Westwood, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

GOODNOW (2)52 Goodnow Road | Sudbury, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

LITTLE BOOT USE15 Littleboot Lane | Westwood, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

HUNTING LANE USE THIS115 Hunting Lane | Sherborn, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

LEBARON USE119 Grace Hill Road | Newbury, New Hampshire | Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty
MAIN STREET USE461 Main Street | Barnstable, Massachusetts | Sotheby’s International Realty

Do not hesitate to contact any of our agents today regarding the above properties and make one of these spectacular pools your own in time for 4th of July weekend.

Call 844.667.6663 or visit our website: Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty for more information.

International Real Estate News: 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity Of International Clients Released

Each year, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) conducts a survey to measure the level of U.S. residential real estate sales to international clients. The report is on Existing Home Sales to resident and non-resident foreigners over the time period of April 2014 through March 2015. It provides information about the origin, destination and buying preferences of international clients.

The 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients reported that approximately 209,000 houses were estimated to have been sold to foreign buyers. Although the total number of homes sold declined, the dollar volume of residential sales to foreigners hit a new high in March 2015 of $104 billion dollars. This is a 13% increase from the $92 billion level during the previous time period.

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The average price of a property purchased by international clients in the 12-month period was $499,600. This average is higher than the average price of $244,600 for all existing homes purchased in the U.S during that same period. The report stated that on the average, non-resident international clients paid $548,100 compared to the average purchase price of resident international clients of $450,000.

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As a result of the weakening of many currencies against the dollar and decreases in economic growth in Latin America and Europe the international buyer market was reported to be weak during this time period ending in March 2015 compared to previous years.

The bulk of purchases by international clients were predominantly cash-buyers. Of the total transactions, 55% were all-cash sales. Mortgage financing tends to be a major problem for non-resident international clients due to a lack of a U.S based credit history, lack of a Social Security number, difficulties in documenting mortgage requirements and financial profiles that are different in some cases from those normally received by the financial institution from domestic residents.

Five countries accounted for 51% of purchases by foreigners. These five include Canada, China, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom. Out of these five, China is the largest country of origin of international buyers exceeding all other buyers for the first time in terms of unit purchases and dollar volume. It was reported that approximately 28% of total international sales by dollar volume were in fact from China with an outstanding $28.6 billion worth of property.

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One respondent commented, “There was a big increase in cash buyers from China in million plus price range- both for personal residence and investment.”

Many Chinese buyers are strongly focused on purchasing in the west coast but in a recent survey done by Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, a Boston based firm, more than 1/3 of their 2014 transactions with international buyers were from China proving this to be a preferred location for Chinese buyers.

The bulk of these international sales were reported to be for single-family homes intended to be used for residential purposes while others were for business, education, vacation and investment purposes.

The full 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients for the twelve month period ending March 2015 can be viewed here.

About the NAR Research Division:
The Mission of the National Association of Realtors® Research Division is to collect and disseminate timely, accurate and comprehensive real estate data and to conduct economic analysis in order to inform and engage members, consumers, policymakers and the media in a professional and accessible manner. For more information visit www.REALTOR.org/research

*The sample of 200,000 potential respondents was random but also included approximately 5,000 REALTORS® who responded to the 2013 and 2014 surveys and provided email addresses.
*The actual number of respondents to each question varied due to non-response or because of inapplicability of some questions relative to the respondent.

International Real Estate News: Global Demand For Luxury Homes Strong in the EMEA Region As Ultra Wealthy Buyers Look To Diversify Holdings

wealth xNew ultra wealthy individuals are buying up luxury homes around the world to further diversify their holdings, according to a new report by Wealth-X and the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand.

The joint report, Europe, Middle East and Africa Luxury Residential Real Estate Report For 2015, provides insight into the EMEA region’s luxury residential real estate market and identifies purchasing and investment opportunities for ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals looking to diversify their holdings.
The report shows that the UHNW Residential Real Estate index tracked by Wealth-X hit a new record high of 112.1 in the first quarter of 2015, up nearly 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2014, and 7 percent from the first quarter of 2014. This highlights the strength of the global luxury real estate sector on the back of demand by ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals.

The index takes into account the full range of luxury residential properties that are owned by the world’s wealthiest individuals. Wealth-X data shows there are 211,275 UHNW individuals globally, who collectively own nearly US$3 trillion of real estate, equal to 10 percent of their net worth.

Below are other key findings from the report:
• The EMEA region offers purchasing and investment opportunities, particularly in Madrid, Dubai and Cape Town (three EMEA cities featured in the report), where luxury properties and strong lifestyle considerations may appeal to UHNW buyers.
• London remains the top real estate hub for the EMEA region. The city’s price per square foot (US$3,103) is nearly four times that of Dubai, six and nine times more than Madrid and Cape Town respectively.
• One-third of all premium London properties for sale (homes valued above US$1 million) are worth more than US$10 million. By comparison, Dubai has only 8 percent of its luxury properties listed in the super prime range above US$10 million.
• The less expensive price per square foot for premium real estate in Cape Town generally leads to larger houses. A luxury property in the South African city has six bedrooms on average – higher than Madrid and Dubai, the two other cities profiled in the report.

Download the full report here.

“This research offers an inside look into the global luxury real estate market,” said Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Relocation Director, Nicole Rideout. “At Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty we are fully immersed in the trends of Boston, Cambridge and the surrounding suburbs. This data expands that knowledge by providing insight on many far-reaching markets, allowing us to better advise our global investors.”

Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the network’s brokers and clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

About Wealth-X:
Wealth-X is the global authority on wealth intelligence, providing sales, marketing, strategy and compliance solutions to clients in the financial services, luxury, not-for-profit and education sectors. Its award-winning research and thought leadership are regularly cited by the world’s media such as CNBC, Financial Times, Thomson Reuters and BBC. Wealth-X has more than 250 staff in 10 locations, including Singapore, London and New York.

About Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC:
The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has approximately 17,000 sales associates located in approximately 800 offices in 61 countries and territories worldwide. Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world.

Real Estate News: Summer Activity Predicted to be Strong as the Number of New Listings Increased in May

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported that single-family home sales in May were down over 5% compared to the same time last year. However new listings added to the market were up almost 8% over last year in result of the delayed spring market. This confirms that activity will remain strong throughout the summer.

Massachusetts May Closed Sales:

Single-Family May 2015 May 2014 %Change
Sales 4,157 4,384 -5.2%
Median Price $341,000 $346,325 -1.5%
Inventory 20,622 24,964 -17.4%
New Listings 10,439 9,698 +7.6%
Condominium May 2015 May 2014 %Change
Sales 2,029 1,825 -10.1%
Median Price $315,000 $330,000 +4.8%
Inventory 5,084 6,482 -21.6%
New Listings 3,292 3,002 +9.7%%

“Low inventory has once again pushed closed home sales down in May. The good news is new listings are coming on to the market and that is a positive sign for this summer market,” said 2015 MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald.

Looking to the Boston area specifically, lack of inventory coupled with the lingering effects of winter resulted in both single family and condominium sales to a decrease significantly according to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. “Our spring selling season began slower than normal this year, but it wasn’t for a lack of buyers. We continue to suffer from a shortage of listings, and that’s frustrating for both buyers and sellers” said GBAR President David McCarthy.

However on a month-to-month basis, home sales did improve significantly by 37% from April. Since home sales transactions take 45-60 days on average to be complete, the slip in sales was expected with the treacherous winter that plagued the Boston area. Buyers were unable to view single-family homes easily and many homeowners delayed listing. However pending home sales set a new record for a single month during May climbing 16.6%, or nearly 270 units, from the same month last year to 1,885 homes placed under contract.

Demand for condominiums remain strong as the month-to-month sales improved by nearly 39% since April. Entry-level buyers, overseas investors and suburban empty-nesters looking to downsize continue to fuel this demand. The average market time for condominiums to sell decreased on an annual basis for the fourth time in the last five months in May. The typical condo sold in May was listed for 46 days before an offer was accepted, which is the lowest average days on market until sale this year and almost two weeks from one month earlier when the average was 59 days.

“There’s a huge appetite to own real estate in Greater Boston right now,” observed McCarthy, noting that today’s low mortgage rates, along with steady job growth and favorable demographics in metropolitan Boston are fueling buyer demand.

About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 21,000+ members.  The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

Boston Real Estate News: After Ten Years of Delays, the East Boston Waterfront is Set to See Transformation

After many did not believe that a project on the East Boston waterfront was feasible, 112 Border Street is now set to see transformation.

Delays sparked by the Great Recession and municipal backlogs put Trinity Financials plan to development 200 condominiums on hold.

Roughly ten years later after deliberations and reconfigurations, 112 Border Street is slated to be a 200-unit apartment complex with six “live-work-sell” units for artists, a 400-foot harbor walk with kayak launch, a community gallery and an acre of open spaced according to the Boston Business Journal.

East Boston
“It’s going to be a turning point for the neighborhood. East Boston really is the last undeveloped neighborhood in Boston,” said Abby Goldenfarb, a vice president of Trinity Financial.

This development will take full advantage of the incredible views and “incredible feel neighborhood “ unlike any other as there hasn’t been a critical mass on the East Boston waterfront in the past.

Source: Boston Business Journal

Three Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Agents Ranked within the Top 16 Brokers in Suffolk County’s Top 100 Broker Report

The first half of the year has been exceptional for us here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. The most recent year to date market share of Suffolk County’s top 100 brokers report has been released proving this to be true (source MLS – 6/11/2015).

We are proud to announce that three within the top 16 brokers are our very own. Consistently ranking as top brokers here in Boston, these three dedicated agents provide the white glove service that the Sotheby’s brand is known for to all clientele.

will montero_web_cropRanked Second Overall – William Montero
With a total unit dollar volume of an outstanding $34,266,000, William Montero ranked second overall on the list of Suffolk County’s top 100 brokers. Will is one of the most respected and accomplished agents in Boston luxury real estate. With over 16 years of luxury real estate experience, Will represents buyers and sellers in Boston’s premier buildings and neighborhoods. Consistently ranking as one of Boston’s top agents by all measures, Will attributes his unmatched success to always ensuring that his clients receive the best representation and the optimal outcome in all aspects of their real estate transactions.

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Ranked Tenth Overall – Frank Celeste
Not far behind is Frank Celeste who ranked tenth overall with a total unit dollar volume of $21,315,725. Being one of Boston’s top brokers for over 20 years, Frank brings a wealth of experience to the table. A lifelong resident of Boston, Frank’s intimate knowledge of Greater Boston’s wonderful neighborhoods is a key asset to his success.

 

 

RICH-OCONNOR

 

Ranked Sixteenth Overall – Rich O’Connor
Ranked sixteenth overall is our very own Richard O’Connor with a total unit dollar volume of $15,705,500. Rich has nearly 30 years of experience in residential real estate sales, specializing in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, and Charlestown neighborhoods. From condominiums and cooperative apartments to single family townhouses, Rich enjoys working with both buyers and sellers in Boston’s finest neighborhoods.

 

As top producers not only here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty but in all of Suffolk County, we sincerely congratulate Will, Frank and Rich on this extraordinary achievement.

View the full Top 100 Broker Rankings here.

Featured Listing: Timeless Victorian Craftsmen Home

As you enter 36 Pleasant Street in Sharon, Massachusetts you will instantly be a part of the past, the present and the future. Built in 1902, this Victorian Craftsman home (now offered for sale) is a true example of Steampunk design as it preserves and enhances the best of the Victorian and Arts & Crafts periods.

Steampunk design is a mixture of elegance and machinery where modern Victorian gadgetry and inventions can be found. According to the current homeowner and founder of the company ModVic, Bruce Rosenbaum, “It’s a re-imagination of history.”

“36 Pleasant Street is a particular space of expression where you can experience the blending of two concepts into a unique third – the best parts of a bygone era infused with the comforts and technology of the present day – creating a totally new ‘third voice’ or new form and function in a living space.

The home creates a sensory experience – and it’s not just about getting a final result, but it is also about intent and process. The house is not just unusual or decorative – it’s a creative, functional design solution that helps you, your family and guests feel comfortable and welcome, peak curiosity, have new purpose and be inspired to adapt,” Bruce stated.

steampunk

Spacious and open, 36 Pleasant Street includes four bedrooms, three full and one half bathroom. It is rich in detail with built-in bookcases, painted and leaded glass windows and a beamed ceiling in dining room.

diningroom

At the heart of this home you will find a modernized kitchen featuring custom built cabinetry, a two tier center island, a stove with Miele ceramic cooktop, a breakfast nook, and a Victorian heater that has been beautifully restored.

DSC_0020 kitchenOther features include: pocket doors, four fireplaces, gorgeous up-dated baths and a beautiful master suite. This home is tucked away in your own oasis sitting on 2.64 acres of manicured lawns, flowering trees, wildflower gardens and wooded trails just .3 miles to train station and center of Sharon.

Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum, the current owners and founders of ModVic, repurpose and infuse modern technology and gadgets and everything cool into period, relevant antiques and salvage objects. This timeless home has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, HGTV, Chronicle and Victorian Homes Magazine. Now is the chance to make it yours!

For more information contact Linda Buckland and Robyn Olson of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty by phone at 1.508.934.9997­ or visit our website.

Take a virtual tour of this property here.

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Solidifies International Relations with Newest Member of Leadership Team

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Beth Heard-Laffey, the newest member to the GSIR Leadership team alongside Nicole Rideout, Director of Relocation.

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce that Beth Heard-Laffey has joined the company as Director of International Initiatives.

Based in Boston, Heard-Laffey is responsible for developing and strengthening the company’s international pipeline of business and promoting Boston as a key destination for foreign investment within the Sotheby’s International Realty network.

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Owner/President, Paul McGann stated, “Recently we have recruited several top producing agents one of which who speaks Mandarin. We look forward to having Beth supplement the success of these agents who do business internationally.”

Heard-Laffey previously served for 16 years as director and auction liaison, for Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC in New York, NY, where she managed the relationship between the Sotheby’s Auction House and more than 760 offices affiliated with the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand on a global basis. In this role, Heard-Laffey led realty client service for preferred auction clients, managed real estate and fine art referrals, and produced co-marketing events in New York, London and Hong Kong.

“We see this as a great opportunity to merge her Sotheby’s Auction House experience into our everyday practice and to collaborate more frequently with all local and international affiliates. Working closely with our agents and in-house marketing team, Beth will develop and maximize the value of all our Sotheby’s International Realty/ Sotheby’s Collaborations,” said Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty CEO/ Founder, Larry Rideout.

Before she began her career in real estate, Heard-Laffey was employed at the Sotheby’s auction house in the Client Service department.

A native of Massachusetts, Heard-Laffey was born into a real estate family, raised near Boston and summered in Nantucket. She is a graduate of Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts and Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty we welcome Beth Heard-Laffey to our team and are eager to see the growth to come not only locally but globally through her invaluable experience and connections.

About Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty:
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty is Boston’s largest independent real estate company. Founded in 1962 by Betty Gibson in Boston’s South End, the firm has several offices in the Cambridge, Boston and Greater Boston area. The international network of more than 730 offices in 56 countries and territories, and the relationship with Sotheby’s auction house, as well as comprehensive online and print advertising in high profile venues, provides remarkable exposure for each home. The success led to Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty being the top-ranked Boston-based firm in the state for 2014 with over $1 billion in properties sold and under agreement. (source: MLS).

Sotheby’s International Realty News: Brand Strengthens Presence in South Bay Region of Los Angeles County

Manhattan_Beach_063Just a few days ago, Sotheby’s International Affiliates LLC announced the opening of French Sotheby’s International Realty. Today they have announced that Visa Sotheby’s International Realty in Palos Verdes and Redondo beach, California, has merged with the well-known local real estate brokerage, South Bay Brokers. This merge is a great display of the ever growing presence of the Sotheby’s brand throughout the world.

Rick Edler, President and CEO of Vista Sotheby’s International Realty stated, “When you work in an exclusive and selective market like the South Bay, you see, hear and execute what works. This partnership will succeed because of our united strengths. The result is a personalized, boutique experience with unparalleled support and service. We look forward to exceeding client expectations for years to come.”

The combined company with operate as Vista Sotheby’s International Realty with six offices and nearly 200 affiliated agents strengthening the presence of white glove service throughout the state of California.

“Vista Sotheby’s International Realty has built a solid reputation for quality service since joining the Sotheby’s International Realty brand in 2007,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “I have known Jim Van Zanten and Jack Gillespie, the owners of South Bay Brokers, for many years and have great respect for them and what they have accomplished.  We are delighted to see these two fine firms join forces in this important high-end market, and are proud to support them as they expand their footprint to represent the finest luxury real estate in the South Bay.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network now consists of over 800 offices within over 61 countries and territories worldwide, encompassing roughly 17,000 dedicated sales associates. We at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty would like to welcome congratulate Vista Sotheby’s International Realty on this tremendous achievement. We look forward to working closely with them in the very near future!

Take a look at our previous blogs below in order from most recent to older news to read about other grand openings to see just how far the Sotheby’s brand has come in such a short period of time.

Source: Sotheby’s International Realty

Looking to relocate? Contact our Director of Relocation, Nicole Rideout, by email at relocation@gibsonsir.com or by telephone 857.362.1758.

Sotheby’s International Realty News: Brand Moves into French Polynesia

French PolynesiaThe Sotheby’s network is truly remarkable and continues to grow at a miraculous rate having just announced that the brand has entered French Polynesia.

Managed and owned by Jacques C. Menahem, French Polynesia Sotheby’s International Realty will service luxury clientele throughout Tahiti and the islands in French Polynesia. The first office opening will be in Tahiti during the second quarter.

French Polynesia benefits from both its location in the middle of the South Pacific and its 118 beautiful islands, of which the most well-known are Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, according to Jacques C. Menahem. “As well, the few 280,000 inhabitants make French Polynesia a welcoming destination,” he said.  “The luxury residential real estate market in Tahiti is beginning a period of expansive growth and we believe the Sotheby’s International Realty brand will help us meet the needs of high net-worth individuals internationally looking for luxury homes in French Polynesia and overseas using the brand’s global platform.  We are delighted to become part of the worldwide network, and look forward to bringing French Polynesia’s extraordinary properties to the far-reaching corners of the world.”

Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC stated,  “Expansion across French Polynesia continues the brand’s commitment to providing access to the Sotheby’s International Realty network’s exclusive real estate services in luxury real estate destinations around the world. French Polynesia has a distinctive luxury residential market and is one of the most coveted vacation home destinations for Europeans and international property buyers.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network now consists of over 800 offices within over 61 countries and territories worldwide, encompassing roughly 17,000 dedicated sales associates. We at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty would like to congratulate Jacques C. Menahem and his team on this news and look forward to meeting and working with them in the very near future!

Take a look at our previous blogs below in order from most recent to older news to read about other grand openings to see just how far the Sotheby’s brand has come in such a short period of time.

Source: Sotheby’s International Realty

Looking to relocate? Contact our Director of Relocation, Nicole Rideout, by email at relocation@gibsonsir.com or by telephone 857.362.1758.

Real Estate News: Sotheby’s International Realty Lists Michael Jackson’s “Neverland Ranch” for $100 Million

Michael Jackson’s former home and children’s fantasyland, Neverland Ranch, is now on the market for $100 million according to the Wall Street Journal. Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty is listing this California estate with a new name, Sycamore Valley Ranch, alongside Harry Kolb of Sotheby’s International Realty and Jeffrey Hyland of Hilton and Hyland.

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The Ranch is located 40 miles from Santa Barbara and spans roughly 2,700 acres boasting 22 structures. The Normandy-style main residence of approximately 12,598 square feet sits between the property’s two lakes offering six-bedrooms, including a large first floor master suite with a private loft and two master baths. There is also a four-bedroom guesthouse near the main home and a two-bedroom guesthouse a little farther away.

Other features include a swimming pool with a cabana, a barbecue area, a basketball court, a tennis court, a 50-seat movie theater with a private viewing balcony, and a stage which includes trap doors for magic shows.

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The amusement park rides and zoo animals including orangutans and elephants that once were on site are now gone, though there is still a llama on property. The famous floral clock that reads “Neverland” is one of the few features remaining from the days when Michael Jackson owned the property. Other distinctive features still there include railroad tracks, a train station, and the Neverland Fire Department building all built by request of Jackson during the time of his ownership.

Neverland

The value of the Ranch has skyrocketed tremendously since Jackson originally bought the property in 1987 for $19.5 million.

Acknowledging Mr. Jackson’s many enthusiastic fans, the listing agents warned they will be doing “extensive prequalification” of potential buyers before showing the property. “Our seller is not encouraging a lot of showings, we’re not going to be giving tours,” Ms. Perkins added.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

News from our Director of Productivity

Power Shift
Technology puts the client in the driver’s seat

Colleen Barry, GSIR Director of Productivity

IMG_5795Technology has revolutionized our world. Each of us has instant access to unfathomable amounts of information, art, and music, right in the palms our hands. While we mourn the loss of the local book stores, record stores, and travel agencies, we rejoice in the ability to communicate with someone across the globe. We revel in our ability to research nearly any
topic.

Likewise, there have been many positive developments that have shifted the balance of power away from service providers and into the hands of their clients. Real estate is one industry that has seen some of the more dramatic changes. From how people search for homes, to how homeowners think about selling, real estate has been revolutionized.

Fifteen to twenty years ago, a home buyer would need to contact a real estate agent in order to find out which homes were available. The agent would tell them about the properties available in nearby neighborhoods and would gather a list of open houses. Now, third-party aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com gather information from public record, MLS services, and other sources to give home buyers the ability to search on their own. They can see what the neighborhood looks like, assess key characteristics of nearby schools, survey the options for grocery stores, and map how far the location is from their workplaces or loved ones. Buyers can see where and when the public open houses are occurring and can attend on their own.

This unfettered access to information has uncovered a fascinating contradiction: You might think that the power shift away from real estate agencies as “gatekeepers of information” would have reduced the need for them; just as the ability to search for and book hotels and airfare eliminated the need for most travel agents. But, just the opposite has occurred. While third-party aggregators placed more power in the hands of each buyer, they created an unexpected need for professional help.

• Because buyers are doing more of the legwork themselves, the process has increased in duration from seven weeks to twelve weeks from 2001 to 2013. (source: NAR Study of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2014)
• The percentage of home buyers using an agent grew 27.5% from 2001 to 2013. (source: NAR Study of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2014)

This apparent contradiction highlights what an agent’s job has been all along: To be a home buyer’s or seller’s trusted advisor and guide. I argue that ours is a service industry much more than a sales industry. It simply took a technological revolution to make that clear. Annual studies by the National Association of Realtors (source: NAR Study of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2014) have found that what buyers and sellers want from their real estate agents hasn’t changed much:

Chart 1 Chart 1 002jpg

In short, clients want service, just as they always have.

Agents also help clients find the most accurate information. Not all the data on third-party websites is accurate; a predictable result of gathering complicated data from many sources. One example of this is the typical inaccuracy of a value estimate. Third-party websites typically use Automated Valuation Models (AVM) to generate values. While AVMs are easy to find, they can be wildly inaccurate. A 2015 study done by Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty found that AVMs were over the actual sale prices by an average of only 6%. But, within that group, some properties were over or under the actual sale price by 25% and 41%. Property valuation is an art. It requires skill and nuanced understanding of a home’s location, curb appeal, architectural style, condition, and other variables. As of now, AVMs are not able to create an accurate assessment of most properties.

Within the real estate industry, there also have been improvements to how we, as agents, share available properties, make offers, and complete transactions. Fifteen to twenty years ago an agent would take one picture of a property to market it. The marketing would typically consist of a one-page brochure, a window display, and a newspaper ad. The reach was extremely limited and the advertising lacked user engagement. Now our agents use our professional photographers to take dozens of beautiful photos. A study by VHT Studios in Chicago showed that professional photography sold homes 32% faster (source: VHT Studios, 9/14). Then the listing is shared in an online MLS (or several) and sent to third-party aggregators. Each viewer can zoom in on photos in each room to get a true feel for the property.

These enhancements have also opened up the international buyer market. As members of the Sotheby’s International Realty network, our listings appear on more than fifty websites and a cascading platform of dozens of affiliated companies’ websites. Many of our third-party websites have international audiences or are based in foreign countries, allowing a buyer in Beijing, London, or Dubai to virtually tour our homes. This has increased exposure for each property, thereby quickening the pace of the market and increasing final sale prices for our clients. International buyers tend to make cash offers due to the difficulty in securing financing as a non-citizen, eliminating the need for financing contingencies. In fact, Boston is #7 in the ranking of US cities for real estate investment, underscoring the importance of reaching a worldwide audience. (AFIRE Foreign Investment Survey, 2015)

A lot of the paperwork involved in the transaction has also gone digital. Programs like Dot Loop and Docusign allow agents to create digital contracts and send them to their clients via email. Then clients can sign them quickly and easily from their computers, tablets, or smart phones. Recently, one of our clients submitted and won a competing bid by while waiting in the airport for his plane to board. That could never have been accomplished in the past. No longer do our clients need to wait by a fax machine or sign for a package delivered by bike courier. They can carry on their normal lives during the process of purchasing a home. The ability to act quickly has become even more critical since in 2014, 35% of properties in Boston sold for more than the asking price. (source: MLSpin)

Chart 1 Chart 1

Is the industry done changing? Definitely not. There is a battle being fought between several third-party aggregators. Zillow acquired the rental property website, Rent Juice, and then acquired Trulia. This created a giant in the industry. However, Rupert Mudoch’s News Corp, acquired the Realtor.com website in 2014, after buying List Hub, a data distributor that had been feeding Zillow and Trulia. Predictably, List Hub ceased its distribution to give Realtor.com the edge in the market. This forced Zillow to scramble to create relationships with individual MLS services throughout the country. This battle will continue for the foreseeable future.

No one knows who the key players will be a few years from now. But, we can predict that change will continue to affect agencies and their clients. Real estate will become even more of an international business. And, if the competition continues, we can expect improved features and services to benefit all of us.

Real Estate News: Number of New Listings Continues to Grow with Temperature as Spring Market Progresses

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported that single-family home sales in April were down close to six percent compared to the same time last year as a shortage of homes for sale impacted the number of closings. Demand for available single-family homes pushed prices up, while condominium sales and prices were also down in April. Looking more to Greater Boston specifically, new listings continue to increase while closed sales decrease. Median sale prices also continue to grow adding to the value of property in this competitive market.

Greater Boston’s April Closed Sales:

Single-Family April 2015 April 2014 %Change
Sales 780 862 -9.5%
Median Price $470,000 $440,000 +6.8%
Pending Sales 1,700 1,475 +15.3%
Condominium April 2015 April 2014 %Change
Sales 663 867 -23.5%
Median Price $440,000 $397,000 +10.8%
Pending Sales 1,332 1,225 +8.7%

“A shortage of homes for sale has forced closed sales down in April,” said 2015 MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald. “As the spring market progresses, we’re starting to see more homes come on the market and if this trend continues, we should see a very active summer.”

The decrease in sales both in single-family homes and condominiums was not out of the ordinary specifically in the Greater Boston area. With the heavy snow fall and harsh temperatures this winter, buyers have not been able to actively attend open houses and view homes for sale. This ultimately has put a hold on sellers listing their home for sale. Undeniably, sales activity would be much higher if inventory was not at such a low.

Although condominium sales have decreased since April of 2014, on a month-to-month basis condo sales rose a tremendous 15% from 576 condos sold in March throughout the Greater Boston area. The Greater Boston Association of Realtors reported that the demand for condos remains strong especially among entry-level buyers looking to convert from renting to home ownership, overseas investors and suburban empty-nesters looking to downsize or relocate to Boston.

Greater Boston’s Inventory and Days on Market:

Single-Family April  2015 April 2014 %Change
Inventory 2,964 3,590 -17.4%
Months of Supply 3.8 4.2 -8.8%
Days on Market 90 86 +4.9%
New Listings 2,531 2,242 +12.9%
Condominium April 2015 April 2014 %Change
Inventory 1,530 1,872 -18.3%
Months of Supply 2.3 2.2 +6.9%
Days on Market 57 58 -1.4%
New Listings 1,740 1,568 +11.0%

The amount of new listings coming onto the market cannot keep up with the buyer demand at this time. In the Greater Boston area new single family homes coming onto the market improved nearly 13% (or almost 300 units) from the same month a year ago, and an outstanding 63% (or almost 1,000 homes) from March.

In Greater Boston’s condo market, sellers are profiting greatly. The typical condo owner was able to sell their unit either at or just below the full original asking price. The Greater Boston Association of Realtors reported that the percentage of original list price to selling price rose a full point to 100.4% in April, marking the 15th consecutive month the ratio of list price to sale price has reached or exceeded 98%.

“The long winter may have delayed the start of spring selling season, but there’s every indication the market will continue to heat up with the temperatures” stated GBAR President David McCarthy. “The local economy is adding jobs, mortgage rates remain near record lows, and property values are appreciating steadily once again. I’m optimistic sales will rebound and that the next few months will be very busy,” he added.

Ultimately not only in Boston, but across Massachusetts as a whole there is not enough inventory to keep up with the demand which continues to put upward pressure on prices. The number of new listings continues to grow with the temperature as the spring season progresses. If this trend continues, the late start to the spring season will make for an active summer season answering to those sellers who may be reluctant to list in fear that they will not find a home to buy.

About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 21,000+ members. The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

Vacation Homes: A Feature of Extraordinary Homes Listed by our Affiliates in Other Desirable Regions

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Celebrated on the last Monday of May each year, Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day following the Civil War and officially became a federal holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kick off to summer is spent attending memorials, holding family gatherings and going on vacation in remembrance.

Where will you be spending your holiday weekend? Featured here are extraordinary vacation homes listed by our affiliates in other desirable regions where the Sotheby’s International Realty brand extends. Click each photo for more information.

Pink Chimneys_aerial Bermuda

Tucker’s Town, Bermuda | Rego Sotheby’s International Realty | $16,750,000

250 Baxters Neck Road, Marston Mills | Sotheby's International Realty | $5,199,000

Cape Cod, Massachusetts| Sotheby’s International Realty | $5,199,000

New London, New Hampshire | Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty | $4,950,000

New London, New Hampshire | Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty | $4,950,000

51 Gunning Point Avenue, Falmouth | Sotheby's International Realty | $3,195,250

Cape Cod, Massachusetts | Sotheby’s International Realty- Falmouth Brokerage | $3,195,250

916 Main Street, Cotuit | Sotheby's International Realty-  Osterville Brokerage | $2,450,000

Cape Code, Massachusetts| Sotheby’s International Realty- Osterville Brokerage | $2,450,000

45 Childs River Road, Falmouth | Sotheby's International Realty | $1,395,000

Cape Cod, Massachusetts | Sotheby’s International Realty | $1,395,000

7 Collins Brook Road- Windham, NH | Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty | $969,000

Windham, New Hampshire | Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty | $969,000

45 High Street - Camden, Maine | Legacy Properties Sotheby's International Realty | $940,000

Camden, Maine | Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty | $940,000

434 Eel River Road, Osterville | Sotheby's International Realty- Osterville Brokerage | $850,000

Cape Cod, Massachusetts | Sotheby’s International Realty- Osterville Brokerage | $850,000

73 Goodwin Lane- Lyman, Maine | Legacy Properties Sotheby's International Realty | $699,000

Lyman, Maine | Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty | $699,000

'Tucker's Point Golf Villas,' Tucker's Town, Bermuda | Rego Sotheby's International Realty | $199,500 - $399,500

‘Tucker’s Point Golf Villas,’ Bermuda | Rego Sotheby’s International Realty | $199,500 – $399,500

To view more beautiful homes visit our Destinations Section in the spring 2015 issue of the ‘Collection Magazine.’ Make one of these beautiful homes your own by calling 844.667.6663 or email relocation@gibsonsir.com