Family Relocating to Boston? What You Need to Know

With summer just around the corner, it’s high season for family relocations. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy in Boston, families “on the move” are wise to think ahead. Summer is an ideal time to choose your new location and get settled before kids go back-to-school in September.

But if Boston is where your family’s moving truck is bound this summer, there are a few things to consider. Moving is almost always stressful, regardless of the circumstances. Family relocations can be especially challenging, so it’s important to seek support when you need it. Partnering with a corporate housing expert on the front end to help guide your decision-making process can save many headaches on the back end. As you start your moving preparations, here are three tips to consider, along with some resources to help facilitate the process:

Don’t “Go It Alone”

It can be tempting to want to take the lead when deciding where your family’s residence will ultimately be located. Yet unless you’re already very familiar with Greater Boston, you’re unlikely to fully appreciate the important distinctions between Boston’s many neighborhoods. Each section of Boston proper has it’s own unique personality, and different parts of the city might appeal to you for different reasons.

Back Bay, for example, is a target destination for many who move to Boston. As famous for its Victorian brownstone homes as for its world-class shopping and proximity to cultural institutions such as Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library, the neighborhood is considered one of the top sites of 19th-century urban design in the nation.

The Boston Seaport District on the city’s waterfront is another popular neighborhood for newcomers. The Seaport was dubbed “the hottest neighborhood in town” by Boston magazine, as it continues to attract a wide range of residents to an area that’s bursting at the seams with new development. The prime location near downtown, coupled with its explosive growth, make the Seaport a great choice for families who want to avoid a commute from the suburbs.

These are just 2 of more than 20 neighborhoods in the City of Boston—not to mention additional choices in Greater Boston, including Cambridge and Brookline. This is where corporate housing experts can help you more effectively choose a neighborhood that will best match the needs of your family.

Know What to Look For

A corporate housing expert can also help you think through your family’s specific needs and preferences to help hone in on an ideal location. Take the time up front to make sure that a corporate housing expert understands your job location, school needs, and your family’s lifestyle.

Your temporary housing provider may ask you “lifestyle” questions like these to help narrow your search for housing:

  • Where is your company’s office located?
  • Would you prefer to live in a city or suburban setting?
  • What do you and your family like to do in your free time?
  • Do you enjoy outdoor activities?
  • Are there particular types of restaurants that you prefer?
  • How old are your kids and what grades are they in now?
  • Do your children play sports?
  • Do your children have any special school needs?
  • Does your family participate in specific religious activities?

Take a “Test Drive”

Want to really get to know a locale and find out if it suits your family before making a permanent move? The best way to do so is to try out one or more temporary housing solutions before putting down roots. If you’re relocating with an employer, your human resources department may be able to work directly with a corporate housing provider to place your family in a few different locations. Then your whole family can “test drive” various neighborhoods before committing to permanent housing.

During these trial runs, you’ll be able to compare different neighborhoods in Boston to see what it’s like to live in them. Some furnished apartment providers even offer deals and discounts on local services, allowing guests to really experience each neighborhood as local residents experience it.

If appropriate prior to your relocation, ask your HR manager if the company’s corporate housing provider could tour you through multiple corporate apartment examples during any of your business trips to the area. This will allow you to explore what types of temporary housing might make your family most comfortable long before the moving truck arrives.

Resources

Check out the following resources to help you prepare before, during, and after your family’s relocation:

  • City of Boston, provides extensive information by neighborhood about communities and services, searchable by address.
  • Visitors’ Information, City of Boston, provides detailed information on transportation, things to do, culture, recreation, and weather in the Boston Metro area.
  • Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, provides a Boston Travel Guide listing hotels, restaurants, and activities in the Greater Boston area.
  • Furnished Quarters, corporate housing provider with Boston neighborhood information and corporate apartment listings.

What Landlords Need to Know about the Boston Housing 2020 Initiative

In September of 2013, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced a plan that would greatly increase the amount of available housing within the city. Using a proposed $16 billion in public and private investment, the goal is to add 30,000 new housing units to the city by the end of the 2010s. A large portion, 25,000, of these homes will be priced at market rates, that is, whatever a buyer is willing to pay. The rest of the homes will be classified as affordable housing for middle- and lower-income buyers.

The Boston real estate market has exploded in recent years, with home prices growing at nearly double the rate that incomes are growing. The City of Boston hopes that increasing the supply of homes, in addition to setting aside some property for lower-income families, will make living in the city more affordable, especially for students and young professionals just starting out.

Boston is in a unique position. As one of the premier “college towns” in America, it has a large amount of young, eager talent ready to enter the workforce. However, many of these young graduates are choosing to live in more affordable areas as they get their careers started. This new housing initiative aims to increase the availability of more affordable housing in the city, in order to attract and retain young professionals.

Boston Housing 2020 Initiative

Photo Attribution: ‘Boston à l’heure bleue’ by Emmanuel Huybrechts available at https://flic.kr/p/8grTee under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0.

Boston Landlords Impacted by Boston Housing 2020 Initiative

But what does the initiative mean for landlords? As of now, the initiative is focused only on increasing the amount of housing units available to buy. There is currently nothing in the plan regarding rental property or lease rates. However, increased supply and lower prices may make buying a more attractive option for some tenants, so rents may have to be lowered to remain competitive.

On key part of the initiative is an effort to streamline the permitting and development process. So if you are a developer in addition to a landlord who is looking to build units to lease, you could see some savings in your building costs. Be sure to check with local authorities to see if the subsidies apply for your specific project.

The initiative is focused mainly on providing affordable housing to residents of Boston. It is unknown at this point what kind of restrictions will be placed on investment properties, but if you plan on buying a property that will not be your primary residence, it is advisable that you have an attorney look over any paperwork that comes your way.

As America becomes more urban and people choose to remain closer to their jobs and nightlife, home prices in the areas will creep upward. Initiatives like the one in Boston aim to anticipate that growth and ensure that there are options for the future residents. Hopefully, more American cities will adopt this model and plan for America’s growth well into the 21st century.

This article was written for the Boston Real Estate Observer by Stephen K Hachey. Stephen is a real estate attorney specializing in loan modifications, short sales, foreclosure and much more. He is also the owner of his own practice, the Law Offices of Stephen K. Hachey. This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on Attorney Hachey’s services, visit his website at www.floridarealestatelawyer.org.

Upcoming Boston Negotiation Workshop with Moshe Cohen

Negotiation in real estate remains one of the fundamental tactics leveraged by the most successful Realtors and real estate professionals as well as savvy sellers and buyers.  To be taught the art of negotiation can elevate a Realtor’s ability to close a deal, and “win” for their client.  Why not get taught by one of the very best.

Moshe Cohen, one of the foremost authorities on negotiation and an expert instructor, will host his next Public Negotiation Workshop in the Boston Area on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. The topics covered include the following:

  • Competitive negotiations strategies and traditional bargaining tactics
  • Negotiating styles and their implications
  • Collaborative negotiations frameworks and strategies
  • Preparing for your negotiations
  • Communicating effectively as you negotiate

The workshop is dynamic, experiential (no powerpoint), informative, and fun. To see what others have said about Moshe and his workshops, check out a sampling of negotiation workshop recommendations on Moshe’s website.

The upcoming workshop runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and includes a light breakfast and lunch. The fee for the day is $425 per person ($395 if you register by 10/31/2013). Group discounts are also available for groups of three or more people. The workshop will take place at 20 University Rd, 7th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138, next to the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA, accessible by public transportation and with nearby parking.

To register, please email Moshe at moshe@negotiatingtable.com or call (617) 577-0101.

Top 45 Real Estate Blog Award

We were excited to learn recently that the Boston Real Estate Observer was ranked by Apartment Talk as one of the most useful and entertaining blogs about the real estate and apartment industry in 2011.

Top 45 Blog Winner

We sincerely appreciate the recognition, and credit it to the quality content that our staff and contributors are focused on publishing on a daily basis!

We are currently seeking authors in all areas of real estate, including commercial, residential, lending, real estate law, and ancillary real estate services. For more information on becoming a regular contributor to the Boston Real Estate Observer, contact us using the link at the top of this page.

Top 10 Boston Real Estate Stories of 2010

2010 is coming to a close, and we wanted to take a moment to reflect back on the year and remember the most popular Boston real estate stories of 2010.

As 2010 played out, the Boston Real Estate Observer continued in its efforts to be one of the top Boston real estate news sources.  Our quest to continue expanding coverage was made possible with the addition of multiple new regular contributors, bringing our total list of authors to 11 – learn more about becoming a contributor.

As we did in 2009 and 2010, we plan to implement  innovative new ideas in 2011 to continue bringing readers robust and comprehensive coverage of the Boston real estate market.  Here are the top 10 most read articles from 2010 (some of which were actually written well before 2010):

  1. Craigslist, Rental Properties and Listing Scams
  2. Best Places to Live 2010: Massachusetts Real Estate
  3. Overall Boston Property Taxes Up in 2010
  4. The Clarendon Brings Unique Living to Back Bay
  5. Condo Kitchen and Bath Remodel Options
  6. Channel Center Seaport District Lofts Open Houses
  7. Understanding the HUD-1 Settlement Statement
  8. Disputing a Low Home Appraisal
  9. Boston Apartment Rental Scam Exposed
  10. W Hotel Boston Foreclosure
  11. We appreciate your readership and look forward to a prosperous 2011, Happy New Year!

Martinez’s Scholarship Strives to Break Poverty Cycle

With a goal of breaking the cycle of poverty, financial self sufficiency, and graduation with a four-year college degree, the Boston Scholarship will provide sufficient funds for one eligible student to attend UMass Boston for 4 consecutive years for the school term commencing in September 2011.

This is the vision of Matthew Martinez.  After witnessing first-hand how families on Section 8 vouchers found themselves in a cycle of poverty that could not be broken, Martinez, a Boston-area property owner, decided to do something about it.

He created a scholarship that supports single parents on Section 8 vouchers who are determined to obtain a college degree so they may improve their earning capacity and their family’s long-term economic stability.

The scholarship is the result of a partnership between Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, The University of Massachusetts Boston, and Beacon Hill Property Group, owned and operated by Martinez.

Applicants must meet certain criteria, including being a member of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.  Once awarded, the scholar will work with an Advisor from MBHP to establish goals, responsibilities, timelines and a specific plan of action.

Unfortunately, the number of applicants far exceed the capital currently raised for this initiative. Private donations are being sought to meet the overwhelming demand for this groundbreaking scholarship opportunity. The Boston Celtics will award 4 of the President’s seats (a value of $2,000) to the individual or organization that donates the most to this endeavor.

If you are interested in making a donation, please contact Martinez at 617-448-5550 or matt@beaconhillpg.com.  Or, simply mail your donation to:
University of Massachusetts Boston 100 Morrissey Blvd Boston, MA 02125-3393 Attn: Kelly A. McLaughlin, Coordinator for Merit-Based Scholarships
For: The Boston Scholarship

For more information, see The Boston Scholarship (PDF).

Vivian Zottola Becomes Contributor to Boston Real Estate Observer

A Realtor, Certified Buyer Representative, a Council of Residential Specialist member, and currently with Boston Realty Advisors, Vivian Zottola joins the Boston Real Estate Observer as a regular contributor.

Using her background in the mortgage business, as well Boston neighborhood expertise developed by residing in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, and South Boston, Vivian is a Boston real estate agent that provides Buyers and Sellers with useful, current and timely information that will support their needs and objectives, providing clients solutions from a financial perspective in a way that will help them avoid potential financial pitfalls – so timely in today’s economy.

The Boston Real Estate Observer continues to partner with thought leaders and experts, such as Vivian, in various real estate related fields who serve as regular contributors to the publication in an effort to bring readers a comprehensive content portfolio. For more information on becoming a regular contributor to the Boston Real Estate Observer, contact us using the link at the top of this page.

Vivian Zottola Boston

Beat Summer Heat & Utility Bills

With temperatures still in the 90s, Bostonians are staying inside, pumping up the air conditioning, and trying to beat the summer heat (and humidity).  With air conditioners on maximum cooling, energy bills are on the rise – consider 10 ways to beat summer utility bills.

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is now consistently crowded with families taking advantage of the many fountains that can bring a cool relief to those taking in the Waterfront.  If screaming children having the time of their lives is not in the cards for you, and you’re looking for something a little more sophisticated, try the Colonnade Boston Roof Top Pool (admission required).

Boston Heat Wave

Colonnade Boston Roof Top Pool

And for those dreamers out there, if you were the proud owner of 74 Beacon Street, a stunning Beacon Hill home, you’d be able to enjoy your Boston infinity pool in the private comfort of your roofdeck deck overlooking the Public Garden perhaps the quintessential Boston pool of them all.

Boston Rooftop Infinity Edge Pool

Census Pulling Out All Stops

A local real estate broker was recently contacted by a census worker to solicit entry into a local South Boston condo development, 321 West Second Street, in an effort to wrap up census work in the neighborhood. The tactic, noted in italics below, of contacting local real estate brokers to drive completion of census work appears to be on the rise.

“I am with the US Census Department and I need to conduct interviews at 321 West Second Street. Specifically at units 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 16. Can you please contact me with either a time I could gain access to the building to complete these interviews, phone numbers where I could contact these residents or if you could please confirm if these units were not occupied on April 1st that would be most appreciated.

To confirm this information is accurate, below is a contact number for the local census office and the information for Unit 7.

Phone: 617-848-3262
LCO: 2118
Case ID: 32-11297 7152 401 71
OP: 032
CLD: 0703
AA: 32-2206
Map Spot: 0004
Block: 13189

Thank you

Nathan Clifford”

The census is slated to add more than 1.4 million new jobs to the federal payroll, making it the largest peacetime government jobs program ever, according to the Census Bureau. Some 140,000 people were hired in 2009, while the bulk of these temporary workers are being brought out board during 2010, an effort that provides a timely boost for what appears to be a positively trending US economy.

MA Announces Energy Star Great Exchange Program

Recently, Mass Save announced details on the “Great Appliance Exchange Program”. If you recall, I first mentioned this program in an energy upgrade article in January (see Upgrade Energy Efficiency with Government Money). The program is funded by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but individual States are allowed to make their own rules and guidelines for administration of the allocated funds. Massachusetts has scheduled their program as an exchange, allowing for households to replace older and inefficient dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, and clothes washers with new energy star rated models – rebates will be $250, $200, $175, and $50 respectively.

The program will only apply to approved appliances, so please consult the list below to make sure that your purchase will be eligible. To participate in the program you must:

  1. Make a reservation at www.masssave.com
  2. Purchase a qualifying appliance (see refrigerators, dishwashers, freezers, and clothes-washers)
  3. Submit your completed rebate form with a copy of a current electric bill, sales receipt, and delivery documentation confirming replacement of old appliance.

Please note that the online reservation portal will not be open until Earth Day, April 22nd, but it is a limited program so be sure to sign up as soon as possible! If you plan on purchasing more than one appliance, multiple reservations are required, but you can use the same rebate form to claim all appliances.

Unfortunately, not all manufactures and models of Energy Star appliances are covered in the exchange program, but there is still help out there. NStar, Western Mass Electric, Unitil, Caple Light and National Grid are all offering up to $50 in mail in rebates on Energy Star qualified Refrigerators and Freezers. To obtain this rebate please go to www.myenergystar.com and print the main in rebate.

With these two fantastic programs and the estimated hundreds of dollars you can save per year with Energy Star appliances over older traditional models, now is the time to step up and make the move to more efficient appliances.