… and now a rant about housing.

MK’s post got me thinking… (I do the same housing daydreaming)
Dave and I want to buy a house. We have always had a decent combined income (and will again when I start working) and would be great home owners. We already know that we would qualify for a mortgage. The problem? Housing prices in the Boston metro area, hell in the entire state of Massachusetts, are absolutely INSANE.
For example… in browsing the housing in the area, skipping over the areas that are just too dangerous to live in, I come up with this:
3 bedroom, 1 bath, Single Family Property, Area: West Roxbury, Approximately 0.09 acre(s), Year built: 1920, Detached home, Basement, Fireplace, Dining room $389,900
Now.. I’m really not being too picky here. This is not even a pretty house. Just a decent neighborhood and at least 3 bedrooms. Three Hundred and friggin eighty nine thousand dollars. NOW .. there is always the condo option.. but wait! Condos are running around the same price. For the same $389k … I could own my very own apartment with no yard and no parking PLUS I’d still have to live by someone else’s (condo association) rules! What a deal!
Take these houses out of Massacusetts and the price drops conciderably.. dare I say to where they should be.
OK .. well .. Dave and I can continue renting for a while, right? Well not if we want to have a child. Why? Massachusetts Lead Laws. All pre 1978 housing (which is 95% of the housing market available for rent) has lead paint unless it is made compliant by de-leading. The majority of rental housing in the Boston area is NOT de-leaded. There is some low income, housing subsidy program housing that is, but that isnt where we want to live. It is illegal under the fair housing act to discriminate against families with children in a rental situation. It is also the landlords responsibility to de-lead if a pregnant woman or a child under six resides in the unit (at the cost of about $30k and a three month time span). As a result, landlords find other reasons to deny tenancy.. “I dont allow cats”. “Sorry, we received an application just before yours that we accepted”. “We’ve decided not to rent the unit afterall”. The units that are already deleaded, and there are some nice ones, are expensive. Landlords jack up the price for a de-leaded unit because they know that they can get it from, at the very least, students (fellows and residents) with their families here for 1-2 years at a time. Our sister-in-law’s sister has a nice house about an hour away that they may want to rent, we’d love to live there.. but we cant afford the $2000/month rental price. We cant even rent from people we know. We pay $1400/month now.. which is more than plenty of mortgages out there… and expensive (in comparison to national rates).
Boston is a great city.. but how many other hard working, Arty, creative people with decent jobs are being priced right the hell out? How many other young couples who want to start a family are struggling with decisions to leave?
Its a jungle out there folks.

6 Comments so far

  1. Cassford (unregistered) on July 14th, 2004 @ 10:00 am

    You might try Roslindale or Hyde Park if you really want to buy in the city. We decided to buy a few years ago. We drove out from the our apt. and stopped when we could afford a place. We’re happy to have landed within the 495 belt. If we were looking today, we’d be closer to Worcester.

  2. Liz (unregistered) on July 14th, 2004 @ 10:05 am

    Rozzie and Hyde Park prices have risen as well.. but you are right about Worcester.. there are some nice things we could probably afford out there… but if we’re going to go out that far then we’re also thinking why not Providence too.
    Kinda takes away from the whole living in Boston thing unfortunately.

  3. mk (unregistered) on July 15th, 2004 @ 2:47 am

    My parents ran into the same problem in the late ’70s. My dad swears up and down that he found the smallest, cheapest house in Newton after looking for ages. But I’m sure that house today is worth about $300,000 – and it is really teeny. If it were in, say, Kentucky, it would probably be a third of that, or less, even.
    The housing crises really is getting ridiculous – I don’t know enough about economics and that kind of thing to have any kind of solution, but this can’t go on forever. I hope so, anyway.

  4. Heather (unregistered) on July 15th, 2004 @ 3:34 am

    Boy do I hear ya. Is it so much to ask to have a nice, non-slum, non-70’s style apartment/house/toolshed for under $2K here? I am apartment-hunting (yet again) and am beginning to feel that creeping sense of hopelessness that ultimately leads to settling. When will it end?
    My best friend and her husband jjust bought their first place- in Reading.
    Sheesh, what happened? The cities used to be cheap and the suburbs expensive!

  5. Liz (unregistered) on July 15th, 2004 @ 3:58 am

    Speaking as your former rental agent :) , my advice is to wait until September to look. Prices always go down in September because right now you’re competing with the students coming in with mommy and daddy’s money for a sept 1 apartment. Dave and I are definately apartment hunting but we’re going to wait until after sept 1 for it.

  6. teeny (unregistered) on November 14th, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

    Anyone else getting scripting errors on this url?

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