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Rox. real estate market heats up

Values, location draw buyers from other neighborhoods

Yawu Miller | 3/30/2016, 10:13 a.m.
Roxbury’s real estate market may be off to a strong start. While Roxbury sales prices are substantially lower than in ...
This single family home at 34 Lambert Street is on the market for $750,000. Banner photo

Within 45 minutes, 16 individuals and couples had filtered through 39 Copeland Street and real estate broker Delince Louis had five offers well over the $299,900 asking price for the three-bedroom, 1,200 square foot first floor condominium.

If Louis’ open house was any indication, Roxbury’s real estate market may be off to a strong start. While Roxbury sales prices are substantially lower than in many neighboring communities of Jamaica Plain, South Boston and the South End, pressure from those markets may continue to push prices up.

“Lots of folks who are coming through are residents of Jamaica Plain and the South End,” Louis said of the mostly-white prospective buyers. “What people see here is value. You have nice architecture. Great buildings. You have close proximity to public transit. Close proximity to downtown.”

Louis is bullish on Roxbury’s real estate market. A three-bedroom Dorr Street condo his firm sold last year for $550,000 is now back on the market for $618,000. One single family at 10 Elmore Street sold recently for $550,000 in cash to a Chinese graduate student. Another single family at 45 Elmore Street sold for $590,000.

Real estate broker Delince Louis (center) speaks to prospective homebuyers during an open house in a condo unit on Copeland Street.

Banner photo

Real estate broker Delince Louis (center) speaks to prospective homebuyers during an open house in a condo unit on Copeland Street.

Still a bargain

Those prices are still far below the $799,000-$879,000 asking prices for condos on Wyman Street in neighboring Jamaica Plain.

As good a value as Roxbury real estate is, many potential sellers are holding on to their inventory, awaiting the day when their homes fetch the same value as those on the other side of Columbus Avenue.

The gulf between the higher values in abutting neighborhoods and lower values in Roxbury hasn’t stopped sellers from reaching. There’s the nine-room puddingstone house on Lambert Avenue in the Highland Park section of Roxbury that was last year listed at $829,000. It didn’t sell and is now on the market for $750,000.

Then there’s a rather battered looking triple decker at 8 Greenville Street near Dudley Square. “Great opportunity for developers! Major rehab in the heart of Roxbury,” reads the $659,900 listing on Trulia. That property hasn’t sold in the 56 days it has been on the real estate website Trulia, despite a price reduction from its original $699,000 asking price.

The undisputed king of the high asking prices is 27 Howland Street, where a developer carved out a 4,500 square foot unit and a 3,500 square foot unit from a three-story home and listed listed them for $1.39 million and $1.34 million, respectively. Those prices are down from $1.5 and 1.4 million when the property debuted on Trulia 83 days ago.

Will the developer get those prices?

“I don’t think so,” says broker Kobe Evans. “I don’t see it happening. There are some smooth-talking agents who get owners thinking about prices they wouldn’t ask for.”

Evans notes that many developers rehabbing buildings in and around Roxbury are renting out units, rather than selling. With young professionals no longer frightened by the prospect of living in a predominantly black neighborhood, the rental market in Roxbury is now being inundated with students.

“Anything cheap or half-way cheap is being rehabbed and converted into rentals by investors,” he said.