Real Estate News: Jamaica Plain will see 195 new housing units!

JPConstruction is underway for a highly anticipated Jamaica Plain housing complex. The new construction was previously proposed to the Boston Redevelopment Authority back in 2013 with very little local opposition. The plans call for a 204,000SF 13-story building. Named, The Serenity.

This complex will offer 195 housing units with 32 city-certified affordable housing units ranging from 1-BR, 2-BR, 3-BR, and studio apartments. The Serenity is located conveniently near public transportation or the Longwood Medical Area.

Amenities will include:

  • 147 parking spaces
  • 2,100SF of retail space
  • A view corridor looking out to the Jamaica Plain pond.
  • 24-hour concierge and security services
  • 24-hour sports club/fitness center
  • Library and computer room
  • Private courtyard with water feature and children’s play area
  • Swimming pool with lounge and deck
  • On-site management
  • Electric-car charging
  • Covered storage for 195 bicycles
  • Access to MBTA’s Green Line and several bus routes

In addition to this incredible list, the building will offer environmentally friendly features. The project itself was designed for sustainability and efficiency and will include features such as:

  • Solar panel roof
  • Garden roofs at some levels
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Water-conserving features

For the city of Boston, this project will provide roughly 250 construction jobs and is expected to be completed by June 2017. 

Sources: BRA, Curbed Boston,, Longwood


Discovering Antique Homes: Elements of Ownership for the Stewards of History

An article written by our Director of Productivity, Colleen Barry.

DSC_0042Massachusetts is often called “the birthplace of our nation.” The elegance and timeless beauty of our antique homes tie Greater Boston to its storied past, and is part of what sets us apart. Buyers have long desired to own these homes — driven by discerning taste, love of history, pride of association, or a feeling of stewardship for these architectural gems.

Marian Godfrey and Barbara Silberman wrote an article for Trust Magazine about historic homes. “Although some historic houses, like Mount Vernon or Monticello, have achieved revered status, the significance of most is far more modest. They are the mansions, plantations, cottages and vacation retreats of our earliest settlers, lovingly protected by local people who care about our nation’s rich past.” They later added, “Preservation is important—vital, in fact—if we as a nation are to retain authentic examples of history, culture and place.”

Frank Gehry said, “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” In no other part of the country is that “time and place” felt as intensely as in the Northeast. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, 34% of the housing structures in the Boston Metro Area were built earlier than 1940 — compare that to Chicago at 21.1% or San Francisco at 20%. On average, New York had the oldest homes with a median of 55 years old, followed by Massachusetts at 52 years old. (source: Go overseas and the contrast is even greater. Jiro Yoshida, Assistant Professor of Business at Penn State said that in Japan “approximately half of houses are demolished before 38 years of building age.” This likely explains why, “on a per capita basis, the number of architects in Japan is 3.8 times greater than in the United States.” (source: Freakonomics, NPR, 2/14)

Inspired by local history, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty recently hosted a panel discussion on Discovering Antique and Historic Homes. Local experts in property restoration, home inspection, real estate law, and financing spoke about the unique attributes, challenges and opportunities posed by these legacy buildings.


“There are a lot of features of historic homes that are better than what we have now,” said Doug Hanna of S + H Construction. “For instance, the wood that they were using for the most part is ‘virgin growth’ timber. The growth rings of the wood are very tight together and can withstand weathering.” Recognized as the 2013 “Remodeler of the Year” by the Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Boston, Hanna is well respected in the industry and sought for his expertise in historical restorations and renovations. He added, “Some of the white pine sills that we see on houses around here have lasted for 170 years and they are fine… where as you can go out and buy a piece of pine today and in ten to fifteen years it will be rotten.”

While the original materials were sometimes better quality, they have often endured assaults from termites and other bugs. “If I go into a house from the 1700s or 1800s, I am likely to find bug damage. You have to be able to distinguish between what’s active and what has caused structural damage.” Mike Walsh of Walsh Home Inspections talked about the importance of understanding historic homes. “I might poke at a beam and knock off a quarter of an inch of wood that has been damaged. But, that beam might be a large tree trunk that has been there for 100 or 200 years and that level of damage is not likely to have affected the structural integrity.”


DSC_0030Some buyers see additional potential in these homes, often envisioning modern design updates. Walsh cautioned against making major improvements without consulting a professional. “The weight load that they were putting on houses in 1810 is nowhere near the weight load we put on them now. Be sure the structure can handle the weight load of putting in an additional bathroom or a large kitchen island.”

Structural concerns might not be the only stumbling block in an owner’s quest to make major improvements. Depending on the historic nature of the property, owners may need to go before the local historic commission or the national registry to request approvals. Doug Hanna offered salient advice. “If you go to them early in the process, you can find out what will be required to make improvements. If you have the luxury of going before you buy the house, that’s even better — but I realize in this market that you may not be able to do that. The commission might make trade-offs. Sometimes they might be more likely to approve a major change if, for instance, you remove an ugly addition that had been put on in the 1940s.”


Hanna’s reference to the rapid speed of the market wasn’t the only time it was mentioned. More aggressive buyers have been removing the inspection contingency to enhance their offers. Both Doug Hanna and Mike Walsh are sometimes engaged by real estate agents and their buyers to look at homes BEFORE they make an offer, to provide piece of mind.

Rick Scherer of MSA Mortgage cautioned against lifting contingencies. Instead, he suggested creating a shorter and more desirable timeline to make your offer more attractive. “We can shorten the timeframe on the mortgage commitment. It requires everybody to be on the same page to be sure that the quicker deadlines are met. We will all need to put on our ‘running shoes’ to get it done.” He added that finding comparable homes to appraise a unique, antique property can be a challenge. “There need to be at least one or two others comparable sold properties — sometimes the appraiser will need to look at neighboring communities.”


IMG_3140“For a home that was built prior to 1900, generally the advice is to get an historical insurance policy. The reason is that there are unique architectural attributes that will cost more to replace in the event that they are damaged,” said Ali Alavi, a real estate attorney at Alavi + Braza. He went on to offer advice. “If you are planning on purchasing an historical home and is in requirement of some serious improvements and you make those improvements, you really ought to go back to your insurance agent to increase your coverage, because you have expended a lot of money. So the insurance policy that you start out with and the insurance policy that you end up with should really be different.”


This sense of legacy and cultural responsibility isn’t solely held by stewards of homes. Larry Rideout, Co-Owner and CEO of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty recently led the charge with Woburn’s Mayor Scott Galvin to save the town’s library building. Originally designed by HH Richardson, the Pleasant Street library was built in 1879 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rideout shared his feeling that “libraries are the heart and soul of any community. This building’s tremendous history and enduring beauty should be preserved for future generations.”

Rideout and his firm are longtime sponsors of Boston’s South End Historical Society House Tour, hosted every October. The South End has the largest collection of Victorian brick rowhouses in the country. The House Tour is a unique opportunity for history buffs and architecture aficionados to step inside these 100 year old homes and enjoy the renovations and restorations of subsequent homeowners.

Real Estate News: Home builder confidence reaches 10-year high


Source: Boston Business Journal

According to the Housing Market Index, based on a survey of National Association of Home Builders‘ members, builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes jumped three points in October to 64 continuing a five-month trend of strong sales.

This level of confidence has not been seen in 10 years since the end of the housing boom in late 2005.

“This upward momentum shows that our industry is strengthening at a gradual but consistent pace,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With firm job creation, economic growth and the release of pent-up demand, we expect housing to keep moving forward as we start to close out 2015.”

“The fact that builder confidence has held in the 60s since June is proof that the single-family housing market is making lasting gains as more serious buyers come forward,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods.

Confidence rose in three of four regions, with builders in the West signaling the best improvement in sentiment as confidence rose to 76 from 65. In the Midwest, confidence weakened to 59 from 61.

Source: Boston Business Journal

Real Estate News: Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty Attends Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2015

IMG_6204Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty was pleased to have key representatives in attendance at the recent Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2015 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Sotheby’s Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2015 were held Oct. 4 to 7 and saw 2,974 lots sold, achieving $342.2 million (USD) in sales.  For more information including records achieved, click here.

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty representatives in attendance included Larry Rideout, Beth Heard-Laffey and Siu Fu Lau.

IMG_9669“This event provided a forum for our network to interact with each other, potential Asian buyers and Auction House executives and clientele,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.  “Those who attended gained key insights into the Asian market and overseas buyers.  We are proud to offer our network members the opportunity to take part in this important yearly sales event.”


“Our unique association with the Sotheby’s Auction House provides our firm with a valuable point of differentiation in the global real estate market,” said Larry Rideout, CEO. “Our attendance at this event allowed us to showcase our extraordinary listings among this critical and qualified audience of potential buyers and sellers.”

Locally our firm is made up of eight offices in Boston, Cambridge and surrounding areas. Our global network currently has more than 17,000 independent sales associates located in approximately 800 offices in 61 countries and territories worldwide.

Real Estate News: Number of Power Agents Continues to Grow for Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

0007_LisaLindsay2013_MimAdkinsPhotoGibson Sotheby’s International Realty is delighted to announce that Lindsay Alison and Lisa May have joined their team as members of their new Cambridge office. Consistently ranked among the leading brokers in the city by both volume and value, Lindsay and Lisa together bring more than 50 years of experience representing sellers and buyers across all sectors of the marketplace. Widely respected by peers and clients alike, they are true leaders in the real estate industry.

“We built our careers over the years in the Cambridge marketplace,” Ms. Allison notes. “The opportunity to help build a new practice with our unique combination of contemporary capabilities and long-term perspective that Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty presented to us was very compelling. Coupled with the value to our clients of the Sotheby’s global reach and internationally recognized brand, this felt like an opportunity we just could not pass up.”

“Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty has proven to us that they are powerfully focused on the future,” adds Ms. May. “They are committed to meeting the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing residential real estate industry, and they are assembling a fantastic group of agents with the support they need to achieve their goals. We are thrilled to be part of that team.”

“We continue to bring on some of the area’s top producing agents as we grow our business in Cambridge, most recently Lindsay and Lisa, all with their own client bases, skillsets, language advantages and cultural backgrounds. As we move forward in this ever changing world, it is this which differentiates us as a firm and has made it increasingly attractive for others to be a member of our team,” noted Larry Rideout, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty CEO. “The quality of agents that choose to join our collaborative team never ceases to amaze both myself and my partner, Paul McGann.”

Lindsay Allison, a 35 year veteran of the real estate industry, lives on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge with her husband Blake, a principal in the architecture firm of Dingman Allison Architects. She has two grown children: her daughter Morgan, Vice President of Philanthropy at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston and the mother of two boys, Dylan and Jack; and her son Sam, a world traveler, photographer and artist.  An avid gardener, Lindsay is a long-time volunteer at the Trustees of Reservations’ extraordinary Mytoi Gardens, near her summer home on Chappaquidick. Lindsay is fluent in Italian and travels annually to her beloved Florence.

Lisa May has been practicing real estate for 14 years and lives in Belmont with her sons Christopher and Sam and her husband Tevere MacFadyen, a principal in the nationally recognized museum and exhibit design firm Main Street Design. Sam is a 6th grader at the Chenery Middle School in Belmont while Chris is a freshman at the University of Richmond. Lisa and Tevere spend their free time in their other home in Small Point, in mid-coast Maine. She serves on the board of Hearth Shares, an exciting new initiative dedicated to fighting homelessness through the restaurant industry in greater Boston.

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 Downtown, Cambridge and Greater Boston area. The international network of more than 800 offices in 60 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 (source: MLS).

Real Estate News: New Waterfront Micro-Lofts in Chelsea

microloft“Bigger is not always better” proves true for Admiral Hill’s new micro-lofts in Chelsea that range from 286 SF to 447 SF. Back in June, reported of the nine micro-lofts to be built, and now more news has come of this exciting development! 305Microloft at the Common Cove in Cheslea’s Admirals Hill, is the first of its kind in Greater Boston area.

305Microloft offers waterfront living, private outdoor decks, parking at an affording cost and a free six-month membership to its co-working space at the Common Cove. Starting at prices under $200,000, you too can own your own waterfront micro-loft property.

These units have been intelligently designed for a flexible living space. With 12 –foot ceilings and 8 foot windows, the lofts built to be bright and airy, feel bigger than they actually are. Each unit leads out to a 12 by 9 foot private, wooden deck to a waterfront view.

Additional features include:

  • Full Kitchen with white gloss Ikea Sektion cabinets, gray granite countertops, Fisher and Paykel refrigerators, Blomberg electric stoves, Frigidaire dishwashers and built-in microwaves
  • Full European-inspired bathrooms with Ikea vanities and a walk-in fiberglass shower
  • Wide-plank flooring
  • Optional pull-down beds in the living/bedroom area
  • Controlled heating and cooling units
  • Area amenities: public transportation, public parks on the marina, easy access to all major arteries
  • Personal parking spot

The units may seem modest, but they do not fail to provide full-sized appliances and quality features.

Sources: Boston Herald,

Sotheby’s International Realty News: Cape Cod Firm Added to our Network

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC announced the newest member of our network is New Seabury Sotheby’s International Realty. Located on Cape Cod, the firm is owned and operated by Christopher Burden Jr. and Amanda Prince.

New Seabury Sotheby’s International Realty has three offices on and around the Cape and will provide service to New Seabury, Popponesset and the greater Cape Cod area.

“Christopher Burden and his team are seasoned real estate professionals who have extensive market knowledge about the community in which they serve,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.  “We are proud to welcome New Seabury Sotheby’s International Realty to our network.”

Formerly known as New Seabury Real Estate, has served the greater Cape Cod area since 1970. “Affiliating with Sotheby’s International Realty allows our company to have access to high caliber marketing opportunities and technology, as well as worldwide exposure,” said Burden.  “We are thrilled to be a part of a globally recognized brand.”

Our network continues to grow at lengths as we have a presence in over 60 countries and territories worldwide encompassing 17,000 dedicated real estate sales associates. Here at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty we would like to congratulate Christopher Burden Jr., Amanda Prince, their team and of course the Sotheby’s brand for this significant achievement.

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