Boston gondola transportation project

An aerial gondola system from an elevated platform next to South Station, to the Marine Park in the Seaport District is still being considered by private developers and public officials. If approved, it would be around a mile long and run thirty to fifty feet above Summer Street.

1The developers, Millennium Partners and Cargo Ventures, have been talking to city and state officials about the gondola and recently found support with South Boston’s congressman, Stephen Lynch. Millennium is willing to foot the bill for the construction costs, an estimated $100 million, that would include the gondola’s Seaport terminus. Such a project would help reduce vehicular traffic and reduce carbon emissions but have yet to receive official support from the city of Boston or the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Despite concerns regarding the gondola system’s aesthetics as well as potential issues with other transportation projects like dedicated bus lines, Curbed Boston readers recently voted for this project as the best idea for Boston, beating out options to build more housing, going all out to draw Amazon’s second headquarters, implementing a tap-and-go fare system for the T, and co-living.

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Is Congestion Pricing coming to Boston?

After seeing success in the city of Stockholm where they saw a 22 percent reduction in traffic, New York could become the first city in the United States to implement congestion pricing.

If it goes through, motorists driving in and out of the main commercial districts of Manhattan would be charged a fee to do so. The main reason to start a program like this is to ease traffic in the city’s most congested areas by forcing people who want to access those areas to make a decision—pay to drive through those areas or save money by walking, cycling, or taking public transport. The proposal has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a number of business groups as well as ride-hailing apps such Uber. If New York approves this plan, will Boston follow suit?

Perhaps the strongest argument in support of this plan making its way to Boston is that the revenue from congestion pricing in New York would be allocated for repairs to the region’s public transit system.

Besides having some of the world’s worst traffic (Boston ranks 14th among the world’s most congest cities), the T and commuter rail are constantly in need of monetary help to improve infrastructure and service.

However, opponents against the plan are worried that congestion pricing would send property values and prices even higher than they already are and make it harder for people to be able to afford to live within the congestion pricing zone.

New England cities among the safest in America

According to WalletHub, a personal finance site, New England is home to some of the safest cities in the nation. Using 35 key indicators of safety, analysts have compared over 180 cities and scored them in four separate categories: overall safety, home and community safety, financial safety, and natural disaster risk.

ClipThe cities of Nashua, NH, South Burlington, VT, and Warwick, RI, were rated as the safest overall and took the top three spots on the list respectively.

Warwick was rated second in terms of home and community safety, South Burlington was rated seventh in terms of financial safety, and Warwick was rated seventeenth safest in terms of natural disaster risk.

Boston is rated as the 133rd safest city. It was ranked fifth in terms of fewest traffic fatalities per capita and fourth in terms of lowest percentage of uninsured population but was tied for last in terms of most hate crimes per capita.

 

Cryptocurrencies and the Real Estate Industry

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are new electronic cash systems that are completely decentralized with no server or central authority. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies advocate that blockchain technology is the key to a secure monetary future. By providing unique access codes, secure transactions can take place from almost anywhere in the world and the blocks of code will create an incorruptible record of each transaction and access point.

This is relevant to the real estate industry because it would allow buyers to provide secure funds in a relatively short amount of time.

According to Bitcoin, there are several advantages of using their form of cryptocurrency. Users can make or receive payments regardless of location or time of day. Transfer fees are cheaper because they are not based off of the total amount of funds being transferred. Since private consumer information is not included in the transaction records, transactions are more secure.

Users can also add layers of protection to their crypto assets by using two factor authentication and alternative backup methods.

The real estate industry is slowly starting to accept Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies because of these advantages. The International Blockchain Real Estate Association is a member-focused advocacy, educational, and trade organization dedicated to implementing blockchain real estate.

According to their website, cryptocurrencies can “reduce costs, stamp out fraud, speed up transactions, increase financial privacy, internationalize markets, and make real estate a liquid asset”. Some luxury homes for sale are already being listed on MLS’ with cryptocurrency price tags and some landlords let renters to pay with virtual currency because landlords do not have to worry about checks bouncing and funds clearing after a day or two.

Blockchain technology is not without its own challenges. Cyber fraud has resulted in the loss of tokens worth millions of dollars. Many sellers currently do not accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because they have little to no experience with them. Currency volatility has always been an issue and new cryptocurrencies are being invented on a regular basis. Despite these drawbacks, more and more real estate opportunities are beginning to welcome blockchain technology.

 

 

Little to no housing being built in the suburbs

The Boston Foundation reports in their annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card that while it is true that new housing is being added in the Greater Boston area, the majority of the units are in the city of Boston itself and in just a few surrounding cities while towns in the suburbs are seeing little to no construction.

2Young and working families are finding it difficult to afford to live in the city but since housing prices are increasing in the suburbs because of a lack of new construction these families are left with few options. Only a handful of towns have added noteworthy amounts of housing, including Weymouth, Framingham, Plymouth, and Sharon. Out of about 13,000 building permits that were issued this year for the entire Greater Boston area, about 40% of those were issued by the city of Boston.

Although some believe that housing prices may inhibit economic growth, schools and jobs in the area continue to attract students and professionals every year. Rent prices are also slowly falling as a direct result of the additional housing that has become available.

 

 

Cambridge imposes restrictions on AirBNB rentals

Cambridge.jpgMost of the focus on AirBNB stems from the money lost from a lack of taxation, an estimated $15 million from around 592,000 guests in Massachusetts last year. However, while other lodging establishments need to adhere to a strict set of municipal regulations, the owner of a unit on AirBNB currently does not.

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz recently proposed a bill that would impose safety and insurance regulations on top of taxing units, stating: “The taxation without the regulation piece is where the debate stands now”.

While some municipalities are waiting to see what the state decides to do, the Cambridge City Council has already voted to impose their own regulations on AirBNB rentals. Only hosts who live in the same or adjacent building would be allowed to make their units available. These units would need to be registered with the city and concede to inspections once every five years.

This would allow owners to continue to collect income from short-term rental units while ensuring guest safety. The new restrictions will take effect in April 2018.

It’s estimated that about 90,000 guests used AirBNB to find accommodations in Cambridge last year.

Where are the best places to live in Massachusetts?

2.jpg(via RealEstate.Boston) If you are not from The Bay State but wanted to move here, how would you decide where to live? A site such as Niche.com would be a great place to start, as they combine rigorous analysis with reviews from millions of people to uncover the best places to live and go to school.

They recently released their updated list for Massachusetts, assigning an overall Niche Grade based on criteria that includes grades for public schools, housing, good for families, jobs, cost of living, outdoor activities, crime and safety, nightlife, diversity, weather, health and fitness, and commute. Data sources include reviews from actual residents, as well as from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FBI, and the Census.

Among the top ten towns and cities in the state is Sharon, Sudbury, Newton, Wayland, Belmont, Boxborough, Wellesley, and Brookline, with the town of Lexington ranked as the best place to live in Massachusetts in 2017. Lexington received an A+ grade for public schools and good for families, A grades for outdoor activities, health and fitness, and commute, and A- grades for jobs, crime and safety, and diversity.

The city of Cambridge, which landed 12th on the state’s list, was ranked 11th on Niche’s 2017 Best Cities to Live in America list, receiving top marks for public schools, good for families, outdoor activities, nightlife, and commute.

The city of Boston, ranked 262nd on the state’s list, received an overall Niche Grade of B+, brought down by its poor grades in crime and safety, cost of living, public schools, and housing.

Although these type of sites are a good initial resource, a local expert in the leasing market can provide invaluable insight. Rental Beast is partnered with some of the best-trained real estate agents in the business who can help their clients make more informed decisions and find the perfect place to rent or buy.