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Justify housing prices in Davis Square
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steverino
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:13 am GMT    Post subject: Justify housing prices in Davis Square Reply with quote

There are two single-familys on the market in Davis Square in the 900K+ range. One is renovated; the other looks like Edith Bunker still lives there.

Why is Davis Square desirable? Why are properties from Medford to North Cambridge to Spring Hill advertised as a "walk to Davis?" Why would anybody in their right mind pay a million dollars to live there?

Picture this:

You are the typical buyer for these properties. You are not a recent Tufts graduate looking to hang at the Burran. You are either a fortysomething family who would no more send your kids to Somerville High than you would buy a Chevy truck, or you are an aging boomer "downsizing" into a three-storey urban home whose stairs you will be able to climb for only about 36 more months.

What do you do in your great new neighborhood?

Perhaps you decide to take advantage of the proximity to the T. You take the Red Line into Harvard Square--once: politely wedging yourself between screaming teen gang members who yell "Fuck!" every third word, and a homeless man noisily vomiting into a KFC bucket. You tell your friends you "love" the T, although after your first adventure you just take the Saab.

Maybe you'd like to try out all those trendy, alternative coffee shops. The tatooed girl behind the counter at Someday Cafe yells at you when you ask for a "tall" coffee (they don't speak Starbucks). But you feel so trendy when you sit on the dilapidated Salvation Army Couch. Although the music seems unpleasant. And you don't understand the videos. And everyone is between one third and one half of your age. Well, maybe it is easier just to try Starbucks next time.

Strolling around the Square, you just love the bustling, urban crowd. Although most of them seem to be just hanging out in front of the Social Security office, waiting for a bus to East Somerville. So, these are the locals. Interesting.

Well, now it's time for dinner. Gee, everyone in that restaurant seems to be twenty years old, chortle chortle! And that one, too. And that one. And that one. And that one and that one and that one....

You finally make it to Gargoyle's, the one decent fine dining destination in Davis Square. And the food is quite good. But perhaps next time you'll leave before the fat slurring woman starts buying rounds of Kamikazi shots for the bar...

Perhaps now a stroll and some shopping? Well, here's a dollar store! Might come in handy! Look there, an abandoned Halloween costume store! And there's a store that sells used vacuumn cleaners. And we have a Brooks Drugs. And a liquor store. And a store that sells garish household accents that look like props for a Bollywood musical. Hmmm. So....colorful.

Well, perhaps we should just wander home now, hmmm?

What, please tell me, are you doing here? And why did you spend a million dollars to do it?
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admin
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:30 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm afraid I must dissent on your lament about the dining options in Davis Square. Redbones has fantastic food and beer, although it isn't an upscale restaurant (which is fine - it's great the way it is). Orleans is a little more upscale and the food is pretty good, though I guess later in the night the younger folk do crowd the place. Sabur is downright excellent. The french toast they serve for brunch is the best I've ever had and much of the rest of their menu is fantastic. It isn't overrun with twenty-somethings, either.

Davis is also convenient for travel. In addition to the subway, a fleet of buses stop at Davis making it pretty easy to get a lot of places on public transportation. Davis is also close to 93, if you're driving.

With that said, I agree with you in that I have a hard time picturing who it is that would pay ~$1M for a house there. The few people who could truly afford it don't seem to be the type who would want it. My guess is that if anybody is paying these prices, they can't afford it in reality and are playing with "creative" financing that will come back to bite them in five years, if not sooner.

Part of the problem may be that the listings that you saw are particularly overpriced. Zillow's "Zindex" for the 02144 zip code is currently $607,720. The sellers may just be going on a fishing expedition to see if anyone bites.

I'm not sure anyone is biting. There has been a for sale sign in front of 8 Herbert Street (right behind The Joshua Tree and Starbucks) for as long as I can remember. There was an open house a few weeks ago, so I dropped in and picked up a packet. They are asking $629K. According to Zillow, they bought the place a little less than 4 years ago for $390K. Zillow's "Zestimate" for the place is $546,535 (though in fairness, the full range of the estimate is $491,882 - $633,981). It baffles me that they are asking 61% more (nominally) than what they paid for it not very long ago - perhaps they made some significant improvements, but that's still a steep jump. The house appeared vacant, so this particular property may not be a fishing expedition and they may be losing substantial carrying costs due to lofty asking price.

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john p



Joined: 10 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:30 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really needed to hear Steverino's post! That guys is a funny bastard. I think it's a sign of a neighborhood that is gentrifying. They say perception is reality, and right now people have got the craziest mixture of values and perceptions. People watching and a penny for your thoughts is great fun. I like to ask the punked out coffee shop kids "Hey, who you got playing on the highfi?" or "How bout some Twisted Sista?" I'd say break the ice, get the conversation started. Have some fun with the times; I know they're ragging on my docksiders. My wife's trying to get me into a pair of Pumas. I may break down and get a pair, but I'll leave them in an easy place for my bulldog to get and eat. I love Redbones as well Admin, but you can't leave those pork bones around the dog, or the wife for that matter. I use the Colombo bit with the wife thing whenever I can.

I digress. I think the people buying those homes are people with a different set of values than Steverino. What about the guy who works 60 hour weeks as a biotech researcher in Cambridge and doesn't want to schlep through the traffic. The more time he spends at work, the more money they make, the sooner they get to retire, or find a cure..... The next type of person that I have met that is dying to get a place in that area seems to think that suburban people are boring and homogenized. They find it liberating to put earrings in nontraditional areas (the whole Peoples Republic thing). That area really is a sanctuary for a whole way of life and thought. Some people don't feel comfortable in certain typical areas and they pay a premium to be amongst those they feel a certain kinship. I think they are nuckin futz. Most of them are farter smellers than me so a penny for their thoughts when they read my dribble... Whenever someone really smaaaht says something really smaaaht, I like to give them that priceless blank stare and say "You lost me". Smart people are a minority so they like to live in packs like others do. I haven't found that "special place" that Johnny P place. I might wreak havoc in some sleepy leafy suburb or be that annoying neighbor that monologues about his colonoscopy in a more urban setting. The jury is still out. I feel like a nomadic version of Coco the Gorilla at large.

They have some serious food there in Cambridge so you can't knock it that much. I bumped into Al Franken (who ordered tongue), I was star struck and tongue tied (he thought I was crazy). I also went into this breakfast joint to see if I could catch a glimpse of the now defunct Bennifer. They make everyone wear the long sleeves under the t-shirt there. 50 bucks later....

I think the big thing going on here is the contrast in the awareness of the current beautification of downtown Boston/ Cambridge/Charlestown/Dorchester etc. by those who are new to the area and the old timer’s memory of the tough gritty blue collar ashtray types like the Dot Rats, Charlestown Townies, Slummerville, etc. Or just all Bruins fans. My father came from Revere and hasn't been to downtown Boston in almost a decade. I offered to get him tickets for a show at the Wang and he told me he would burn them before going into town. He must remember the hookers, the Combat Zone, the pimps, drug dealers, muggers, etc. etc. What is funny is that there is a little of that still left around in these areas, and some of these yuppie’s worlds get rocked when they encounter some real rough stuff. Those places are colorful, but you still need to keep your wits about you. The contrast is amazing. The esplanade is gorgeous as well as the Boston Common, Harvard Square, South Boston waterfront, wait until the new greenway goes in. This city is going to be amazing.

Balancing the old school Boston and keeping it affordable as well as creating nice communities for up an coming, progressive and creative thinkers is important. Everyone thinks that they are "normal" and they have nicknames for everyone else. I'm the only normal one and the rest of you are all out of your minds. You know we lost all the West End because people were insensitive, now we're keeping the buildings but gentrifying the people out. As long as Boston is run by people that care about its heritage as well as its future it won't get treated like the stripper at that Ivy League party. Managing the affordability of housing is a big part of this.
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steverino
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 6:11 pm GMT    Post subject: I think you're missing the disconnect Reply with quote

admin wrote:
I'm afraid I must dissent on your lament about the dining options in Davis Square. Redbones has fantastic food and beer, although it isn't an upscale restaurant (which is fine - it's great the way it is).


I was probably Redbones' first customer in the '80s; I used to hang out drinking and smoking with Karen, one of the owners, back when the bar next door was full of old geezers snorting coke in the toilet.

But focus on the disconnect. How many retirees are going to Redbones? How many nights a week?

Quote:

Davis is also convenient for travel. In addition to the subway, a fleet of buses stop at Davis making it pretty easy to get a lot of places on public transportation.


Buses? People who pay a million dollars for a house do not ride buses. Ever.

I feel weak just thinking about it.


Quote:

With that said, I agree with you in that I have a hard time picturing who it is that would pay ~$1M for a house there. The few people who could truly afford it don't seem to be the type who would want it.


Precisely. Davis Square is largely a creation of realtors. It has less to offer than places like Brighton Center, but it's been packaged and pitched to buyers priced out of Cambridge. Now, it's at Cambridge prices.

Quote:

Part of the problem may be that the listings that you saw are particularly overpriced. Zillow's "Zindex" for the 02144 zip code is currently $607,720. The sellers may just be going on a fishing expedition to see if anyone bites.


Sad to say, a house just sold on Russel in the 9s, and a tiny but beautiful Gothic Revival just sold in the high 7s, with only two bedrooms and what looks like a crack house out front.

Quote:

I'm not sure anyone is biting. There has been a for sale sign in front of 8 Herbert Street (right behind The Joshua Tree and Starbucks) for as long as I can remember. There was an open house a few weeks ago, so I dropped in and picked up a packet. They are asking $629K. According to Zillow, they bought the place a little less than 4 years ago for $390K. Zillow's "Zestimate" for the place is $546,535 (though in fairness, the full range of the estimate is $491,882 - $633,981). It baffles me that they are asking 61% more (nominally) than what they paid for it not very long ago - perhaps they made some significant improvements, but that's still a steep jump. The house appeared vacant, so this particular property may not be a fishing expedition and they may be losing substantial carrying costs due to lofty asking price.



This is a bad Chinese flip. They took an old house with potential (see the nearly identical but well-renovated house down the street) and filled it with cheap, tasteless crap lifted from a poorly-guarded Building 19 truck at 4 a.m. The floor plan upstairs seems laid out by a drunk, blind architect with Alzheimer's. There is literally a set of stairs that goes nowhere. It's no wonder it hasn't sold; I guess buyers' stupidity does, after all, have a some limits.
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john p



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 6:16 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

you lost me
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john p



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 6:31 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you Steve Sweeney? I swear I've heard this bit at a Chinese Restaurant. If you are, I'm going to be a little star struck again...
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Chuckie
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 9:01 pm GMT    Post subject: Davis Square The Paris Texas of the 90' Reply with quote

"Davis Square, Paris of the 90's." The tag line was invented by two morons working for Editorial Humor, a bi-weekly in D Square. The NY Times picked up on it and the other papers followed. By the time The Unte Reader got around to calling D Square a "Mecca for the Artistically inclined", the feeding frenzy was on.

Once the Artist got priced out, the trust funded Bobo camp followers moved in. The rest was over-priced history.

(At least they moved the welfare office to Revere....)
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admin
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:23 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Boston Herald just ran an article which reads like an extended ad for Davis Square (I'm not convinced it isn't):

http://www.bostonherald.com/business/real_estate/view.bg?articleid=1036082

Here are some choice quotes:

Quote:


“It’s young, it’s vibrant - and it’s on the Red Line,” said Kathy Martin, 54, who recently teamed up with her 62-year-old husband to buy a $960,000 three-bedroom condo after his job moved to Cambridge.

...

“(Davis Square) has a fantastic balance of practicality and fun,” said Robyn Sinder, who went in with her boyfriend on a $665,000 loft-style two-bedroom condo. “You have all the basic things you need right here, but there are (also) restaurants, bars (and) great places to hear music.”

...

Davis Square offers home buyers a varied housing stock. There are 19th and 20th century one-, two- and three-family homes, along with post-war houses and apartment buildings and a bevy of newly built condo complexes. Single-family homes run from about $650,000 to $975,000. Condos range from about $390,000-$435,000 for rehabbed two-bedrooms to the mid-$500,000s and up for new construction.

...

Builder David Prosch Wilson just completed the Davis Square Condominiums, a 10-unit Victorian-style complex. Eight condos are still available, with prices ranging from $414,000 for a one bedroom to $814,000 for a 1,900-square-foot two bedroom with two private decks.

The 30-unit Davis Square Lofts are also set to come online next month, offering a chic industrial look. Prices run from $325,000 for a 625-square-foot studio to $560,000 for a glass-enclosed penthouse with two large decks.

Next door, the Building Five Lofts feature nine condos carved out of the former M.W. Carr jewelry and picture-frame factory. All units boast designer Italian kitchens, and prices range from $435,000 for a 978-square-foot condo to $950,000 for an 1,863-square-foot two-level penthouse with a large private deck.



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JCK



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 5:36 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to imagine a 3BR condo going for almost a million bucks in Davis. For that price, I'd want a full service building, with valet, 24-hour doorman, etc. etc. Either that, or really damn fine house. I can see someone paying that price in the Back Bay, but Davis? Please.

I think this just points to the fact that there are plenty of bad deals out there. I can't imagine a 3BR condo, no matter how nice, would rent for more than $4k/mo in Davis. The mortgage on a million dollar condo is going to set you back quite a bit more each month.

Well, each to his own. I can't imagine there are too many other people willing to pay those sort of prices. I've not been one of the housing bears, but when I read stuff like this, it makes me sound like one!
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admin
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:11 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

JCK wrote:
Hard to imagine a 3BR condo going for almost a million bucks in Davis. For that price, I'd want a full service building, with valet, 24-hour doorman, etc. etc. Either that, or really damn fine house. I can see someone paying that price in the Back Bay, but Davis? Please.

The funny thing is, steverino started this thread over a year ago expressing his disbelief that people were asking that same amount for single family homes in Davis:
Quote:

There are two single-familys on the market in Davis Square in the 900K+ range. One is renovated; the other looks like Edith Bunker still lives there.

I think that this may be the one he referred to as the "Edith Bunker" home:

http://www.trulia.com/property/1044797053-16-Chester-Pl-Somerville-MA-02144

I had actually stopped by an open house there a few days before he posted that and grabbed a copy of the summary sheet. They were asking $975K at the time. The for sale sign is still outside the house today and Trulia lists the current asking price as $749K. Trulia and Zillow don't show the previous sale price for the home which, along with the "Edith Bunker" decor, makes me think it has had the same owner for a very long time.

So the single family home steverino was baffled by has been on the market for a year and a half now (possibly longer) with no takers. And yet The Herald article leads off with a couple who spent much more than the current asking price on something presumably smaller. It smells to me like they singled out the most extreme outliers they could find in order to make The Davis Square Lofts and Building Five Lofts seem like good bargains in comparison.

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john p



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:56 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing you had to respect about Archie Bunker was that he did his own stunts.

I am a bit skeptical about some reporting as well; you wonder if some folks in the News want the shock factor to get attention. Sometimes people want to know what usual is as opposed to what is unusual.

I logged on to one of the "ask the expert" blogs on the Globe's website and asked a very basic question: What is the average percentage off of asking that the typical accepted offers are coming in at? The "expert" gave me the depends crap. Of course it depends, that's why I said "average" and "typical". It's funny how people put themselves out there like experts to answer questions and then don't put their best educated or experienced judgement on the line. I expected the expert to qualify it of course, but to at least say, given all that, I am seeing and hearing that the average is about 10 percent or so off of asking on average. When you say on average, it implies that some are above and some are below but it gives you a sense. If someone says that they have a finger on the pulse they should be able to offer what they are detecting. If someone doesn't go on the line to offer averages, my advice is to find another expert because they either don't have their finger on the pulse or they aren't straight talkers. People want to know what the hell is going on and are dying to get honest feedback and these realtors are like cats playing with mice. If they play cat and mouse with you, be a dog.
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admin
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:02 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I saw that question and figured it was you. She didn't even give you a "depends" answer - she said "there is no average"! That's ridiculous, of course there is an average, that's a mathematical question not a subjective one. Perhaps she meant that the average is of minimal use since the standard deviation is so high. Or perhaps it would have taken awhile to compute and she didn't have the time. The question is, is vagueness like that intentional so as to keep the information (and power) asymmetric, or did she just not explain the reason in technically accurate terms?

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Boston ITer
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:58 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey fellows, I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble but Redbones was the main Cambridge-Somerville BBQ joint, cerca mid-90s and earlier, primarily because there was little else in terms of *Dallas Barbeque* for the region. Sorry, but BBQ wasn't our specialty and then once Redbones had everyone's attention, kinda like the Border Cafe for mediocre Tex-Mex (Yes, I'd once worked in SoCal and can attest to the difference), it became lazy and started serving slabs of fat instead of meat because the twentysomethings were always there and the location was chic.

Today, there's Texas Roadhouse (Wellington Cir) and Blue Ribbon (several places) which are both, head and shoulders better than Redbone's. In fact, I'd even argue that TGIF has more even keeled ribs than Redbones. The typical well off, one million dollar apart owner, would rather sit-in on one of those or get delivery rather than to be stuffed in a shack with 25 years olds.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:40 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What about the guy who works 60 hour weeks as a biotech researcher in Cambridge and doesn't want to schlep through the traffic.


Dude, that guy gets paid probably ~$115K (plus 10K equity options) per annum and even his tech job, once fully incubated, leaves Kendall Sq and he's either in tech management or shipped out to Indianapolis (where that Davis Sq million dollars gets him a 10,000 sq ft mega-mansion) with the Hoosier production team.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 5:23 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
his tech job, once fully incubated, leaves Kendall Sq


Kendall's a breeder, not a development center anymore, basically, it's an area which is an extension of MIT-Harvard graduate programs but for the private sectors.
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