Blog :: 01-2013

Arlington a Bright Spot for Homeowners

In case you missed it, the Boston Globe just covered a troubling trend among many communities in and around Boston: Rising property taxes and decreasing property values going hand-in-hand.


Come again?
"Tax bills throughout the Greater Boston suburbs keep rising, even though the assessed value of homes has diminished. A Globe review of state Department of Revenue data found that between fiscal 2007 and 2013, average assessed values on single-family homes fell in more than 90 percent of cities and towns as the national economy swooned into recession."
This has become increasingly baffling (and frustrating) for many people who have had to shell out more money in taxes while watching the value of their homes decrease.
Luckily, for homeowners in town, Arlington has been a bright spot amid this trend:
"Only six Greater Boston communities -- Arlington, Cohasset, Needham, Winchester, Weston, and Wellesley -- showed an increase in average value, with most posting modest gains ranging from 2 to 4 percent."
Why was Arlington able to buck this trend? It's not luck. On the contrary, it's all of the reasons that make Arlington a great place to live:
·         Reputable schools
·         A wide variety of restaurants and shops
·         Access to public transportation
·         Proximity to Boston and Cambridge
·         Parks and open space
·         Minuteman Bikeway and walkability
The good news is that home values have begun their ascent, and according to Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr., "...single-family home sales in Massachusetts rose 18 percent in 2012, marking 12 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains and the best year on record since 2006."
Since the assessed value of a home is based on the sale prices of comparable properties in the area from the previous calendar year, less discrepancy should be seen as next year's assessments will reflect the improving real estate market we have been experiencing.
Also, don't confuse 'assessment' with 'true market value.' In most cases, the assessment does not reflect the real market value of your home. To understand what the real market value of your home is, you should contact a real estate agent for an analysis.

Introducing Holly Glen: A New Construction Development in Burlington

Holly Glen: The World at Your Door

It's not often you get 32 brand new beautiful homes inside Route 128. But that's just what Holly Glen is: a single-family home community nestled among a vibrant area of commerce and activity.

Symes Associates is breaking ground in Burlington and bringing thoughtful floor plans, elegant kitchens, first floor master suites and eye-catching features to anyone who has been searching for new construction inside Route 128. Just minutes from shopping, restaurants and highways, Holly Glen offers a world of possibilities through maintenance-free living.

Take a look at the press release below for additional details. In the meantime, check out the Holly Glen Homes Facebook page:, and view pictures of the site as it will begin to take shape (be sure to check back as we will be tracking the progress of this development). Plus, a website dedicated to Holly Glen is coming soon!
If you are interested in learning more about Holly Glen and the homes within this community, please contact me:, (Direct) 781-645-0505. 



Ground Breaking Development IN BURLINGTON will Add 32 Single-Family Homes to Area short ON inventory

Symes Associates to Create Holly Glen: A Sought-After Single-Family Home Community West of Boston

January 25, 2013 - Burlington, Mass. - Symes Associates, residential and commercial developers in Beverly, Mass., and Steve McKenna, Broker with Bowes Real Estate, Real Living in Arlington, Mass., today announced that Symes Associates will develop 32 single-family homes in Burlington. 'Holly Glen' is the newest development of its kind at a time when housing inventory outside the Boston area and inside I-95 (route 128) is near record lows.

"Undeveloped land inside 128 is a rarity. This site on Muller Road in Burlington was incredibly desirable because of its proximity to Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, the Burlington Mall, Middlesex Mall, shops, restaurants and highways," said Landers Symes, President of Symes Associates. "We are addressing a strong demand for high-quality, single family homes designed for maintenance-free living - yet are still accessible for those wanting an active lifestyle."

"Quality of life, comfort, and peace-of-mind are built into the foundation of every Holly Glen home," said Steve McKenna. "There are many buyers that have been searching for that ideal home. Holly Glen is a community nestled among a thriving and vibrant area of commerce and activity - while providing exceptional living in a new residential neighborhood."

From initial conception through the final product, Holly Glen is being built from the ground up with buyers' needs at the forefront. Home buyers, baby boomers in particular, will be pleased with the thoughtful floor plans offering elegant kitchens, first floor master suites and eye-catching features.  The homes at Holly Glen will fulfill the needs of home buyers who have been searching for new construction inside of route 128.

Homes will range in size from 1,900 to 2,800 square feet, and construction of the site will begin this winter with availability late summer/early fall 2013. Home prices will start at $599,900.

For additional information, please contact: Steve McKenna, Bowes Real Estate (Direct) 781-645-0505, (Office) 781-648-3500, (Email)

Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week, 32 Freeman Street, Unit 32

You know it's cold out when ice skating at the Ed Burns Arena actually warms you up. But don't let the icicles make you frosty. There is a warm-up projected for next week, and some hot open houses in Arlington this weekend.

Check out our latest listing, complete with wood burning fireplace to take winter's edge off!

32 Freeman Street, Unit 32

This is a desirable East Arlington condo right near the Minuteman Bikeway, theatre, shops, restaurants, and public transportation. Step into this cozy 2 bed 1 bath unit bursting with natural light. Enjoy spending winter evenings cozied up to the wood burning fireplace in the living room. The focal points of the dining room are the beautiful built-in, French doors, and the natural wood work. The spacious eat-in kitchen has a pantry and beadboard. There are both front and rear porches to enjoy summer evenings, and garage parking and yard space complete the package. (MLS # 71475449)

What's Nearby:East Arlington shops and restaurants, Capitol Theater, Spy Pond, public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway.


Scroll down to see other new listings in and around the Arlington area this weekend, and happy house hunting.








2 Pine Ridge Rd.



1f 1h










46 Broadway St. U:1



2f 1h



20 Pine St. U:20



2f 0h

2/3 Family


32 Freeman St. U:32



1f 0h

2/3 Family


106 Forest U:106



1f 0h



Arlington Real Estate: Charted Waters

It's not always easy to navigate the often-choppy waters of the real estate market.  What's true for the national market isn't always true for Arlington - nor are they mutually exclusive.

We have pulled together Arlington homes sales data from the past three years to provide a better idea of where real estate has been - and where it might be going.

As you can see from the chart below, Arlington single family home sales have increased in both volume and price over the past three years. Same for multi-families, although condo values and volume are a little more variable.

2010-2012 Arlington Closed Transactions*

*Data Source: Multiple Listing Service

Even with average home sale prices rising, the price a buyer pays for a home today doesn't necessarily represent what it will cost in the long run because interest rates are at historic lows. For example, in 1981 interest rates were at 18.5%, and while home prices may have been lower at that time, the relative cost was much higher.

Take a look at the chart below and you'll see the dramatic drop in interest rates from 1980 to today. You can also see corresponding interest rates for the past three years (based on a 30 year fixed mortgage):




December 2010


December 2011


December 2012


In general, from 2010 through 2012 we have seen 1) rising home values, 2) declining interest rates. Home sellers benefit from this inverse relationship because they can get a better price for their home than in previous years (remember 2008?). Home buyers have a great opportunity to tap into low interest rates and buy a home that, theoretically, will continue to appreciate in value.

Another factor impacting the local housing market is the rent vs. buy decision. The percentage of people who rent in Arlington hovers at 30%, just below the statewide average (see below). There are plenty of instances when renting makes sense, but when property appreciation is on the upswing as it is in Arlington, there is an opportunity to create more wealth through owning rather than renting. With rents skyrocketing and interest rates so low, I expect the % of renters to drop somewhat as more people make the jump from renting to homeownership. 

# of houses and condos


# of renter-occupied apartments


% of renters in Arlington


% of renters statewide


Source: City Data
So what does all of this mean? To sum up, the housing trend that defined the Arlington 2012 housing market is the trend that never goes out of style: Location, location, location. Arlington remains one of the most popular towns in the Boston-metro area. Good schools, public transportation and a strong community kept Arlington home values strong last year.
And what trend will define the Arlington 2013 housing market? Movement. Like a snowball picking up speed, the Arlington housing market is poised to take off as the pool of sidelined buyers and sellers enter the market. Low interest rates, high rents and increasing home values are already motivating people to act.
If you would like to discuss Arlington real estate trends in greater depth, please feel free to contact me directly.

YourHomeForSale Stats n' Facts

The numbers are in, and it was another successful year for BOWES Real Estate, Real Living, and The Home Advantage Team. According to BOWES, 2012 was its best year ever since being founded in 1945. That's an impressive stat given the ups and downs of the past 67+ years.

Steve McKenna and The Home Advantage team contributed to that success by posting the highest transaction rate of any other real estate agent in town. With 84 closed transactions this year, the next closest agent came in at less than half, with 34 closed transactions.

  2012 Arlington Closed Transactions*



Data Source:  Multiple Listing Service, *Agent(s) Closed Transactions For Arlington Only

So how do we do it? By maximizing the strengths of each individual on The Home Advantage Team we are able to provide a greater depth and breadth of experience for clients throughout the home buying and selling experience. There is no 'passing off' to a lesser qualified agent because each member fills a specific role in the process.

With more people on hand to address any number of concerns, we can ensure that you will receive the time and attention you deserve. In addition to our team, we have developed a wide range relationships and networks, so you get a slice of expertise from any number of reputable vendors and resources around town.

It's just as we've always said to potential clients, it doesn't cost more to use the number one real estate team, but it could cost you more if you don't.

Here's Why 2013 Will be a Great Year to Buy or Sell a Home

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward

So maybe I'm a little bit like Dicky Fox from the movie Jerry Maguire:"I love the mornings! I clap my hands every morning and say, 'This is gonna be a great day!'"

And I can't help but think 2013 holds the same promise.

There are all kinds of statistics indicating real estate is making a steady comeback.

·         Home sales are at the highest level since November 2009.
·         On a year-over-year basis, pending home sales have risen for 19 consecutive months.
·         Sales of new homes rose 4.4% in November to a two-and-a-half-year high.
Certainly 2013 will have its challenges - there's the fiscal cliff drama, employment rates, European markets, etc. And since the bust of 2008, uncertainties have caused people to hunker down and make do. Now the question is this: will today's uncertainties be enough to hold back the tide of people that have been waiting to buy or sell a home?
I believe there is enough critical mass and demand across these four groups to create movement in both the home buying and selling markets:
·         Boomers who are looking to downsize or relocate.
·         Millennials living with Mom and Dad who want to move out.
·         Renters who are ready to become first-time homebuyers.
·         Homeowners/families that are ready to upgrade to a bigger home.
I think people are bursting at the seams to get moving, and there is finally enough market momentum to break down the walls of uncertainty that have been holding people back.
On January 1st I said 'This is gonna be a great year!' What do you think? Are you going to wait for change, or are you ready to readjust the sails and move forward?