Grading Greater Boston’s Housing Market
October 10, 2013
October 10, 2013
Public policy experts, realtors, economists, politicians, and anybody interested in the future of the Boston-area housing market converged at The Boston Foundation for the release of the 2013 Greater Boston Housing Report Card. Barry Bluestone, Dean of the School of Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University and one of the authors of the Report Card, gave a presentation that updated attendees on the effect of Greater Boston’s housing market on the regional economy.
The news was a bit sunnier in the 2013 Report Card than in recent years. Low mortgage rates led to a 20.9 percent jump in single-family home sales in the region between 2011 and 2012. Condo sales are up more than 25 percent in Greater Boston. Nearly 8,000 housing permits were issued in the region in 2012. And, as Bluestone noted in his presentation, developers are ahead of public policy “eggheads,” estimating that two-thirds of housing permits issued in 2013 will be for multifamily housing projects.
But there were some areas of concern. The Massachusetts economy remains stagnant, which will hurt long-term affordability. Rents continue to climb, with more than half of renters spending more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent. Bluestone also cited restrictive zoning laws as thwarting multifamily development that will allow the region to meet the ambitious housing development goals set by Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
There is a bill pending on Beacon Hill that would modernize the state’s zoning laws in a way that would make the development process easier to navigate for developers and residents alike. It’s one policy change that could help preserve affordability in Greater Boston.
Take some time to read the report card or watch this morning’s panel discussion of the findings. Housing plays a huge role in the Massachusetts economy. Even if you’re not in the real estate industry, you’d be wise to see where researchers see the market going in the next few years.