“The economy -- notwithstanding the terrible headlines, inflation, interest rates, Ukraine, all the things you know -- is in better shape than you think.”
That’s how economist and real estate guruSpencer Levy began his talk with our chamber yesterday.
Levy -- who's with the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm CBRE -- spent the next hour painting a refreshing, mostly optimistic, view (rooted in strong growth trends and low unemployment) that was, frankly nice to hear amidst all the ongoing anxiety and just days before the midterms.
He then proceeded to break down what all the indicators mean for different aspects of commercial real estate.Watch it here.
Retailers predict consumers will keep spending
Even as inflation remains stubbornly high holiday retail sales are set to grow between 6 and 8 percent this year, according to an estimate from the National Retail Federation.
NRF said spending by higher-income individuals remains strong, while less wealthy households are increasingly tapping into their savings or taking on debt to buy products.
The Fed won’t like that news, of course, since the strategy behind raising rates is to reduce consumer demand, Evers-Hillstrom adds.
But the Fed might prefer a contradictory Mass Mutualsurvey that found nearly three quarters — 74% — of Massachusetts residents say the economy and fears of inflation have impacted their spending and savings this holiday season.
Who knew there was something good about ending Daylight Savings Time
And then there’s this prediction from AAA suggesting that the cost of gas in Massachusetts, which has been mostly falling since the summer, might continue declining into the winter, reports Alvin Buyinza at MassLive.
“Generally this time of year, after the daylight savings time change, it’s darker, people tend to drive less, we see gasoline demand typically decreases a bit,” a AAA spokesman said.
Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov 6. But humans no longer need to roll anything back, our devices do that. Explaining it to your pet is a different story.
Workbar has just announced a new grant competition for minority-owned or operated Massachusetts small businesses. One grand prize of $5K with a free one-year Workbar membership and two runner-up prizes of a three-month free Workbar membership will be awarded. Details. (And if you’re ever at the Workbar Needham location, please be sure and say hello to our chamber team.)
MASSCreative is co-hosting a series of regional in-person conversations designed to develop a policy platform and legislative agenda to guide arts advocacy in the coming years. Closest to us: Lincoln on Nov. 16 and Boston on Dec. 6. Details
Due to overwhelming interest, the MBTA’s Bus Network Redesign meeting on Wednesday was oversubscribed. The T has scheduled a subsequent meeting to accommodate those who were not able to attend on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. Register.
Tufts Medicine will take over the management of MetroWest Cancer Care Center in Framingham from Tenet Healthcare (BBJ)
The Needham Exchange Club annual Fruit and Chocolate Sale has long been a favorite in our house. The program offers an opportunity to purchase fresh oranges and grapefruit from Florida, as well as chocolate. Proceeds support the many truly good works of the 75-year-old nonprofit. Details.
In September 2022, the typical home price in the Boston metro area (and you’d be hard-pressed to find any such property in our chamber communities) climbed to $652,000, a whopping $57,000 pricier than the same house one year earlier.
And then there are mortgage rates: Between September 2021 and September 2022, a 30-year-mortgage leaped from 2.9 percent to 6.11 percent. (Yes, they're even higher now.) That rate jump alone would raise the monthly payment on the typical home by $1,400 monthly over that same period.
Add in real estate taxes and insurance and how much would a homeowner need to earn annually to buy this admittedly improbable-to-find home?
In Sept. 2021 a household would have needed to earn at least $138,000 annually to afford this home.
Twelve months later, the same household would need an income of $196,500 annually or higher! That’s an extra earning of $58,500 a year for the same house bought just twelve months later.
No wonder the median age of homebuyers is on the rise, moving up to 53 from 45 last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Adults between the ages of 55 and 74 accounted for the largest share of homebuyers in the housing market in 2022, while the average age of first-time homebuyers fell to an all-time low.
And why this is worth watching carefully
The Baker administration has revised its guidelines for the MBTA Communities Law, allowing municipalities to include an affordable housing requirement when creating their new transit-oriented housing districts.
Adding more affordable, transit-oriented units is something we should all embrace, for the reasons just illustrated above.
But the only way we're going to address our housing crisis is by building a lot more housing of all kinds. And it's reasonable to worry that communities looking to dodge the new law might use affordability restrictions to make some projects financially unfeasible.
One last thing
Finally, if you have yet to vote early, or by mail (or if like me your filled-out ballot is sitting on your kitchen table), don’t forget that this coming Tuesday is the day all those Maggie Hassan and Don Bolduc commercials will go away.... also known as Election Day.