There’s good news if you are nearing retirement and want to downsize. You can sell your home now, and, if you are lucky enough to live in an upscale suburb like Belmont or Newton, you might be able to find a buyer in a week or two.
The bad news? After selling the house you have painfully resolved to say goodbye to, finding that downtown condo or one-floor ranch you have been yearning for may not be all that easy.
In fact, you could end up paying more to downsize.
Downtown Boston condo prices are soaring, while those modest ranches and other smaller homes in the suburbs are already being fiercely fought over by young families looking for their first house. (Of course, the number of ranches and Capes in the more expensive suburbs is dwindling as they are torn down to make way for McMansions, but that’s a story for another day.)
Here’s what Ilene Solomon, a longtime Newton broker who deals every day with empty nesters, told me. She estimates it could cost as much as $2 million for, say, an empty nester selling a big house in Newton or another upscale suburb to find real estate happiness in downtown Boston.
Others are opting to stay in town or close to it, buying a condo or renting in an apartment complex like Charles River Landing in Needham.
Still, finding a condo in the suburbs is no cinch either, with the pickings pretty slim right now.
Along Route 128, listings plunge
The number of homes and condos for sale in some of the upscale towns along Route 128 has plunged to record lows.
It’s about as low as you can go.
Just look at what has happened over the past four years.
There were 1,185 homes and condos for sale in Burlington, Lexington, Needham, Dedham, Newton, Waltham, and Westwood back in July 2010, Redfin reports.
That number bumped up slightly to 1,234 in July 2011, before embarking on an epic, two-year swoon that has yet to bottom out.
Listings of homes and condos for sale in these west suburban towns plunged to an alarming 931 in July 2012.
Then, over the past year, listings have fallen by more than half again, to just 457 homes and condos for sale along the western stretch of Route 128.
No wonder prices are going nuts.
Home prices in Newton rose 12 percent through the first seven months of the year, to a median price of $886,000, Lexington prices are up 13 percent, to $810,000 and Needham saw a 10 percent increase, to $730,000.
Fighting with the neighbors
If you are having a beef with your next-door neighbor, well you are hardly alone.
In fact, 4 out of 10 Americans in a recent survey by Findlaw’s Real Estate Center reported having a dispute of some sort with one of their neighbors.
Roughly half of those with neighbor problems cited noise, according to a summary of the survey’s findings on HomeActions website, where I found the survey.
Problem pets and naughty children were the second and third leading trigger for disputes between neighbors, cited by 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively, of the survey’s respondents.
Living next to a neighbor with a rundown house or who has a problem keeping a lid on his trash cans is another big source of complaints, cited by 18 percent.
Another 17 percent say they have had it out with a neighbor over a boundary dispute, while 8 percent worry they are living next to a potential criminal.
I am surprised battles over trees aren’t on the list. Findlaw has a whole section of legal disputes with your neighbors, and the legal issues involving trees — such as whether you have a right to stop a neighbor from whipping out his chain saw — are prominently highlighted.
Go figure. Anyway, half of those who say they have had a problem with a neighbor simply tried to resolve it by having a chat, followed by 27 percent who called the police.
That’s compared with 11 percent who wrote an e-mail, and 4 percent who took “other action.”
I am not sure I want to know what “other action” means in this context, but it doesn’t sound good!
Courtesy of Scott Van Voorhis at Boston Globe