Cambridge Area Real Estate Newsletter

August, 2006

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

You probably read about it every week! Yet, while the media waited for the proverbial bubble to burst, it’s been more like some air hissing out of a balloon.

Most would say that Cambridge and Somerville prices peaked around spring, 2005 and that there has been some modest price decline,possibly in the 5-10% range depending on various factors, since then.There has been a lot of inventory build-up, as properties take longer to sell and buyers sit on the sidelines waiting to see what happens. Although long term fixed mortgage rates remain at historic lows, short term adjustable mortgage rates have gone up, reducing buyer’s purchase power. There has been a balancing of the market, more towards a buyer’s market.

Many buyers jumped into the market this year to take advantage of more selection, lower prices and to lock in those low fixed interest rates. What a relief not to be one of many bidders the first weekend a condo came on the market. Some sellers found a silver lining: if you’re trading up when prices have come down, what you buy comes down more than what you sell and you end up with more house for the money. All in all, it was a VERY busy spring and early summer market.

Predictions abound for the following year —everybody’s an expert--and I’ve lost my crystal ball! Sellers will need to carefully position their property in the marketplace and be sensitive to market feedback. For buyers, there will continue to be more selection and opportunities to take advantage of.

Affordable housing continues to be a major issue in Massachusetts . After the sale of Gillette, and of Fleet Bank to Bank of America, a Globe article lamented the loss of major corporations that were headquartered in Boston. Boston was losing its status and influence as a major business center.

A local architect and urban planner postulated that, in order to thrive in the future, the Greater Boston area needs more housing for the 'creative class', namely: teachers, artists, musicians, architects and also immigrant entrepreneurs.  For the most part, police, fireman, school teachers and social workers--the people who make the city go--can not afford to live here. And, there has been a significant net ‘out-migration’ (59,000 in 2003-2004) from Massachusetts, the only state to experience a net loss of population last year. Census data suggests many of those leaving the state are young workers aged 20-34 who cannot afford to live here.

The biggest impediment to increasing the supply of 'affordable' or moderately price housing is local zoning ordinances , which severely limit new construction. Ordinance 40R (The Smart Growth and Housing Production Act) was recently enacted to provide incentives to towns and cities that allow increased density around transit stops, town centers and on underutilized property, so that developers can build affordable housing for working families.

One of the objections often raised by towns is that the increased tax revenue from new construction for affordable or moderately priced housing does not cover the cost of providing schools and infrastructure for the resulting new families. A recent bill passed calling for a state 'insurance fund' to cover the difference. The proposed cost was very reasonable. These are the kinds of creative proposals that are needed to increase the supply of 'affordable' and moderately priced housing in the Commonwealth.*

This is my 8th year as volunteer director of the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund (CHAF). Last year's benefit concert for the homeless with Ellis Paul and Friends was a huge success, raising more than $150,000 to help 150 families move from homeless shelters to homes. My thanks to those of you who contributed. Since 1999, CHAF’s community coalition has raised more than $875,000 to break the cycle of homelessness by assisting more than 850 homeless and near homeless families and individuals with rental startup costs like security deposit, etc.

SAVE THE DATE! Celebrating Broadway’s Best, CHAF’s 8 th annual benefit reception at the Charles Hotel’s RegattaBar and concert at Sanders Theatre, will be held on September 29 th. Boston Secession will celebrate the genius of Broadway legends Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein. Secession will also perform the World Premier of regardisregard, by Mary Oestereicher Hamill and Ruth Lomon, a ground breaking multi media presentation featuring words and images of and by the homeless. The Boston Secession, described by the Boston Phoenix as “The Valrhona of choral groups: intense and exquisite,” is a 25-voice professional choral ensemble under the artistic direction of Jane Ring Frank, known for bringing art and innovation to the Boston music scene with performances of surpassing excellence. Secession will perform with Boston Musical Theatre stars: Leigh Barrett, Caroline deLima, Brad Peloquin and Drew Poling.

This year's goal is to raise $175,000 and to reach the benchmark of a million dollars raised and more than 1,000 families moved into housing since CHAF’s inception . If you would like to make a donation, help your company to become a sponsor, advertise your business or contribute in some other way, just let me know. For more info, visit www.CHAFund.org.

If you are considering buying or selling, now is the time to act . There’s more selection for buyers and opportunities abound! And for sellers, I am always available if you would like an update on the value of your home in today’s changing market.

With the support of Coldwell Banker Huron Avenue , I continue to provide a comprehensive array of seamless services to buyers and sellers alike. We offer buyer and seller representation, mortgage services, insurance, moving relocation services and much more. And, Coldwell Banker has invested in $45 million worth of technology and internet advertising to increase its internet presence and to help serve buyers and sellers.

I'm celebrating my 20 th year in Cambridge area real estate sales , and with 15 years before that as a designer/builder/woodworker, that's 35 years experience working with Cambridge area housing! Most of my business now is word of mouth! Thank you for your many referrals and for contributing to my success!

I look forward to hearing from you, whether to simply catch up, or to assist you with real estate.

Sincerely,

David Pap

Work: 617-844-2756
Email Address: David.Pap@NEMoves.com
Cell: 617-594-1088
Website: www.DavidPap.com

PS Al Gore’s recent film, An Inconvenient Truth, is an excellent portrayal of the very real effects of global warming. There’s a website, www.climatecrisis.net, where you can calculate your impact and find practical ways to take action. Just turning your thermostat up or down 2 degrees in summer or winter can save emissions of 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. See the enclosed flyer for ways you can help.

* Info in previous three paragraphs from “The Housing Puzzle” by Barry Bluestone and Ted Carmon in the Boston Globe, 7/16/05.