Harvard money could help slow investors buying up Allston/Brighton

The BRA decided tonight to solicit bids from groups that might have ideas on how to use $3 million in money from Harvard for increasing owner occupancy rates in Allston houses.

BRA staffers say trends show growing percentages of houses in the North Allston and the neighboring section of Brighton being bought up by investors, who might not have the same neighborhood interests as people who actually live in the area.



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    Harvard...same interests???

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    Has Harvard EVER had the same interests as the residents of North Allston/Brighton???

    Code enforcement might be a good start...

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    So the BRA is finally recognizing that Allston is being bought up investors...

    So what, did they think all the college students living here were buying up the properties themselves??

    This "trend" has be going on for the past 20 years. I'm glad the BRA is being so proactive.

    The recent Boston Globe Spotlight series on abuses by landlords highlights the many ways property owners turn their houses into what are basically unsupervised dormitories.

    Stepping up enforcement and making these properties less profitable would be the first step in reducing the high price of single and 2 family houses, possibly making them affordable to the families this area desperately needs.

    Forcing the colleges to provide more on campus housing, or even reducing enrollment might also be helpful.

    Better police response to obnoxious student behavior (night parties, band practice at midnight, etc) might also do more to bring in more families.

    Lastly, how about a low-interest loan program for people who agree to live in their house for the life of the loan and actually follow the rules regarding occupancy (if it's a 2 family)

    lower allston is an immigrant hub

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    lower allston is as much an immigrant hub as it is a student slum.
    Single family houses are much cheaper there than neighboring Brookline or Cambridge, which does not have trouble attracting families.
    So, what will attract families to the area?
    Once Boston provides good and safe local schools, families will follow, even to Allston.

    Even to Allston....

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    There's another shocker...Brighton bashing Allston.

    Some things will never change.

    One of the stranger aspects of rent seeking

    'investment' at this time is batch purchases of single family and 2 family homes.

    It is money seeking higher yields than the equity or bond markets which are less sexy due to the low interest rate policy at the Fed.

    So these consortia are buying batch lots of properties from distressed loan portfolios around the country of what is called shadow inventory.

    The 2007 melt down damage was partly masked by banks understating the crap on their balance sheets.

    This is particularly true of the large capital center banks who buy mortgages from smaller banks and bundle them into bonds. Those bonds became toxic waste and one way to seep value back into them is to return the underlying properties to some degree of solvency.

    It is like house flipping on a grand scale and it introduces another layer of distortion into the price discovery process.

    While Boston didn't get hit as badly as Florida or Nevada by the mortgage failure problem, its high yields from rent gouging make what is available fairly appealing to investors.

    And Harvard made its own messes in this realm with huge losses over in that area.

    Residential exemption

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    The greatest tool for promoting owner occupancy is the residential exemption benefit on real estate taxes which exempt the first $150k or so of your home's value from property tax, as long as it's the primary residence of the owner.

    I recall that it's a number set by the state, and that it's optional so only so only Boston and Cambridge participate in it.

    Maybe that number is too low, or maybe it should be reworked to set a different tax rate for owner occupied versus investor occupied property.

    One problem with the

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    One problem with the incentive in Boston currently is that you have to wait forever for it to kick in. If you buy a property from an investor, you first have to wait months for the current tenant's lease to run out so you can move in, then you have to wait over a year for the residential exemption to kick in. Waiting two years for this makes it a a horribly slow incentive for converting properties from investor-owned to owner-occupied.