Every week, we ask an Boston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Boston real estate.
This week, we talked with Sarah Golvsky, a senior sales agent with The Charles Realty.
Boston Agent (BA): As someone with experience selling in both Boston’s downtown and the suburbs, what are the major differences in terms of representing a property?
Sarah Glovsky (SG): The differences between downtown Boston and the suburbs vary from place to place because so many of the suburbs have a similar feel to downtown. When making a comparison, it makes more sense to look at the differences between selling a condo verses a single-family home.
Because the majority of properties in downtown Boston are condos, it’s important, as an agent representing those properties, to consider the factors that are unique to condos, such as the association, owner’s occupancy, any commercial space in the building (important information for lenders), fees and allocation of fees. How an association is run can make a big difference to prospective buyers, so it’s important to understand the nuances and incorporate them into your marketing strategy for the property. By nature, condos have a lot of shared and / or communal space so there are some additional considerations there, but with a single family, buyers are more focused on things like whether they’re on public water or sewer, if they have to get a septic tank and a title five, if there’s a finished basement and if that’s space that should be included in the square footage, and whether the home has had a radon test.
People moving from the city to the suburbs have traditionally paid very close attention to schools as this transition is one that is usually made by young families, so it’s always been very important to have a strong understanding of the school systems in Boston’s surrounding towns. That being said, more families are choosing to forego that transition and stay in the city, so it has become increasingly important to also have a firm understanding of Boston’s public school lottery system.
BA: What can someone relocating to Boston’s downtown expect in terms of amenities, speaking specifically to transportation, walkability, business and entertainment?
SG: Boston tends to rate very high in walkability, and it’s not particularly big; I’d say you could walk from one end of the city to the other, without stopping, in two hours. Of course you would never want to do that because there is so much to stop and see! Boston is broken down into individual neighborhoods, which each have their own appeal. The South End has a very particular and dynamic vibe that you might not find anywhere else in the city. Some claim the South End to be Boston’s version of Greenwich Village, with its incredible number of good restaurants, cafes, theaters, and shops. For those looking for a more traditional feel, Back Bay is an appealing option with the gaslight lanterns lining Marlborough St and large brownstone homes along Comm Ave and Beacon. The shopping on Newbury St., which is kind of our Rodeo Drive – is some of the best in the country. Fenway has Fenway Park, of course, and a number of colleges and venues for live music and similar entertainment.
We also have the Seaport, which has an abundance of very good restaurants, as well as the Blue Hills Pavilion, a large concert venue on the waterfront. In the Summer, you’ll see many people docking their boats in the harbor to catch a show.
Boston is such a historic city, so there’s no shortage of notable sites and activities for those interested in the city’s rich past. The Freedom Trail, which takes you to revolutionary war sites throughout the city is a must do activity for those new to the area. Old North Church in Boston’s Italian section is lovely, and Salem, a town not far outside of the city, was where the Salem witch trials of 1692 took place, so the town is adorned with historical sites, museums and monuments. If you have a penchant for military history, you should see Old Iron Side, the USF Constitution and also the Bunker Hill Monument, both of which are located in Charlestown, one of Boston’s many neighborhoods.
The city is full of things to do, and positioned perfectly for a number of easy getaways. Its walkability was a huge factor for me when I chose to move to Boston, so it’s always something I discuss with my clients who might not be as familiar with getting around the city. Boston is also a very bike friendly city.
BA: You have a pretty strong Web presence. How important is being online to your business, and how does your strategy differ from platform to platform (i.e. personal website, facebook, twitter, etc.)?
SG: Being online is really important. When I started almost 14 years ago, we didn’t even look at listings online; it’s transitioned quite a bit. We used to get a package of listings hand delivered to our door, and we would photocopy and highlight them. Now we do very little paper advertising; it’s all online. We work a lot through social media. Our website and my personal website are all sort of tied in to that. It’s important to not just have a presence on social platforms, but to stay active on them. We have a person in our office takes information we give her, about new listings, market information, trends, etc., and puts it out there on social media. Listing syndication, like Zillow, is also important for us; we still trust MLS the most. Altogether, I’d say something like 75 percent of all our new business is generated online.
For more information about Sarah and her listings in Boston, visit The Charles Realty website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.