This Week in Boston Real Estate: Home energy scores, Uber traffic jams and more

by Michael M. Mazek

A provision to require homes for sale in Massachusetts to include an “energy scorecard” was pulled from the state Senate bill that included it. The Republican reported that the idea faltered on the logistics behind the proposal, as well as had opposition from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Though the home energy scorecard idea was originally brought to the floor by Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) as part of a large omnibus spending package, it has seen bipartisan support including from Republican Governor Charlie Baker. In April, Baker himself issued a standalone bill that would allow property owners to receive a free home energy assessment upon listing, essentially achieving the same end result as Sen. Lesser’s scorecard idea. That bill has not yet been signed into law.

“The real estate organizations said they support a property owner’s ability to voluntarily obtain an energy inspection, and support a buyer’s ability to inspect a property, but oppose legislation that would mandate energy audits and scores,” The Republican reported.

  • Some Boston residents are getting increasingly fed up with an influx of traffic on narrow city streets due to directions provided by navigation and ridesharing apps. The Boston Herald reported on June 26 that City Hall officials were “scrambling” to respond to complaints from residents about excessive automobile traffic on once-quiet streets. Neighbors and officials blame services like Google Maps, Uber and Lyft which provide drivers with turn-by-turn navigation instructions. Since these apps aim for the fastest route based on distance and reported traffic, they may be prone to directing drivers down side streets rather than arterial thoroughfares. Some have even complained that these apps often send drivers the wrong way down one-way streets, or create their own traffic jams and safety risks for pedestrians. City officials have already implemented various traffic control measures like updated street signs, as well as working with app developers to reduce these incidents.
  • Boston renters who rely on public transit may need to pay up for their prime location. RentHop analyzed rents around the city according to their proximity to stops on the MBTA’s light rail T line. Among their findings, RentHop saw rents increase in the vicinity of 90 out of 121 stops over the last 12 months. But some areas saw flat or even declining rents, and the difference could be a matter of an extra T stop. For example, RentHop’s analysis found that rents declined by more than $1,000 per month between the Broadway and Andrew stops on the Red Line, with the lower rents seen near the Andrew station that’s only slightly further from downtown. In addition, RentHop reported that rents across the city appeared to be rising slower this year compared to 2016.
  • Construction on what is expected to become the tallest residential building in Boston and all of New England is progressing at a rate of around one and a half floors per week. Suffolk Construction reported that its Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences at One Dalton Street was already 60 floors tall as of June 21, and is slated to finish at 742 feet by next month. The building’s Four Seasons hotel is expected to open in March 2019, and will be joined by 160 luxury condo residences as well.

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