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Boston real estate now | Scott Van Voorhis

Can championships drive up listing prices?

Highlights from the Boston Real Estate Now blog.

It will be interesting to see if the Sox World Series win spills over into the local real estate market.

I guess I am only half serious here. Still, with 90 percent of Boston area on a high right now, and with a celebratory mood in workshops, offices, and schools, it will be interesting to see how buyers and sellers react.

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Will buyers add to their offers, or will they take inspiration from a gritty, overachieving Sox team to hold out for a more reasonable deal?

And what about sellers? Hopefully, the World Series win won’t convince that small but stubborn group of deluded sellers to go for a Big Papi-like grand slam when setting their listing prices, but you never know.

More seriously, eight pro sports titles in a little over a decade have generated lots of free advertising for the area as a great, sports-crazed place to live.

Certainly our local teams weren’t much of an attraction to outsiders back in the bad old days of the ’80s and ’90s, when only the Celtics were winning anything.

All that has changed since 2002, with the Patriots and Red Sox winning three titles each and the Celtics and Bruins bringing home a title apiece.

I am sure it’s all coincidental, but Boston area home prices went from high to crazy during the same time period.

Greater Boston home prices are 63 percent higher than they were in 2000, according to the Case-Shiller report.

Property taxes among highest in US

Our local property taxes are hovering in the stratosphere, behind only New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The median tax bill for a Boston-area homeowner is $4,500 a year, making us number four nationally of the top 25 metro markets, Interest.com reports.

New York is first at $7,327, followed by Chicago at $4,984 and San Francisco at $4,983.

Sure it’s high, but I would also argue that in many towns, it is money relatively well spent as well, at least when it comes to local schools, typically the largest part of a city or town budget.

Massachusetts schools lead the nation in test scores and are now competitive internationally as well, a new report finds.

Disappearing 3-bedroom units

Greater Boston rents are some of the highest in the country.

And while we may like to flatter ourselves into thinking our high rents are simply a reflection that everyone wants to live in the Boston area, the reality is not so rosy.

Sure, the Boston skyline is filled with cranes putting up new apartment towers. But most of these new deluxe digs are for the very well off who can afford hefty downtown rents.

Meanwhile, developers who want to build new apartments in the suburbs face an uphill battle against cranky NIMBYs who want to keep out all housing that might attract, of all things, families with children.

Yes, that might mean more children to educate, though you would think a youth infusion might be welcome in one of the most rapidly graying states in the country, with the median age in Massachusetts now around 40 and steadily climbing.

Moreover, many don’t think it through enough to also understand that family-friendly housing might also mean more customers for local shops, restaurants, and other businesses.

One popular tactic some of these small-town bean counters are using to keep those tiny troublemakers out is to pressure developers to keep apartments small, with no more than one or two bedrooms.

Developers who want to build three-bedroom units are being told by town officials in no uncertain terms to drop the idea, or face an even longer and more grueling local approval process.

Just 6 percent of all apartments built under the state’s affordable housing law in the past decade had three or more bedrooms.

That’s compared with the overall market in the Northeast, where apartments with three or more bedrooms make up a quarter of the market, census figures show.

State officials are finally starting to take notice of this trend, with plans to mandate that at least 10 percent of all rental units built under the affordable housing law should have at least three bedrooms.

Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate. For the full Boston Real Estate Now blog, visitwww.boston.com/realestate.
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