A Successful Greater Boston Agent Explains the Ins and Outs of Real Estate in a Struggling Economy
When you’re competing in the Boston real estate market, it’s important to know the conditions you’re dealing with. Especially lately, with home values, interest rates, and inventory in flux, it’s best to have a plan for navigating the storm so you can have a smooth and efficient move.
One of the best ways to do so is with a skilled navigator, or in this case, a seasoned real estate agent who’s just about seen it all. In Boston (and nationwide) it doesn’t get much better than Elena Price, who is rated in the top one-percent of agents in the country. She’s sold over 1,000 homes with over a billion dollars in sales.
Here’s Price’s advice for hopeful homebuyers in the Boston area right now.
How would you characterize the real estate market in the Boston area right now?
The market is strong because pricing has been a little more realistic. Here’s an example: I had a house listed in 2017 that sold for $1.7 million. In 2021 it sold off the market for $2.7 million. If I were going to list that house today, I would probably list it around $2 million.
If a home doesn’t sell—even after the first week—we will see a reduction in price, where we are normally waiting two to three months for a price reduction. Although sellers may not be receiving the prices they were a few months ago, they are still receiving a more realistic price for their home, and perhaps with multiple offers.
We’re very fortunate because Boston remains a sought-after city, whether it is due to employment or school, which keeps our market busy. We are also seeing interest in the market as a viable option to invest your money. If you want to purchase or sell, don’t be afraid. It’s still a good time.
How is the economy influencing the market?
We haven’t been consistent as a country for a few years. It was just two years ago when interest rates were 2 and 3 percent, and now they’re at 6 and 7 percent. The stock market, inflation, supply chain—who ever thought we’d be paying this much for gas and not be able to get materials to build a house or renovate? All these things are making the market unpredictable.
In Boston, we’ve been hearing that the market is returning to “normal.” What does “normal” mean?
It just means that we’re not getting 50 to 150 people at an open house anymore, or 30 or 40 offers on one property. But we are seeing homes sell for very close to asking, or above, when they’re priced where they should be.
Back when the market was a bit crazy, you could basically ask whatever you wanted for a house, and you’d get it. That’s not the case anymore. Buyers are making sure that the price they’re paying makes sense.
Homeowners commonly hear that if you feel like you want to move, don’t wait. Do you agree with that?
You don’t need to wait to sell. I just sold a house this weekend, new to the market, and we got a great price for the house. I am advising clients that we don’t know what is going to happen in a few months or next year. So if it works for you now, then why wait?
I am, however, advising clients to rent if they are able and allow the market to continue to settle for a bit before they buy a new home. If you have the luxury of waiting to buy, then wait.
Is real estate still a good investment opportunity in Boston?
Yes. We’re seeing lots of people putting their money into real estate. If you’re buying income property, rents are pretty high and pretty consistent. If you’re looking to invest in property, for a place to hold your money, people are still finding that’s a better way to invest than losing it in other places. There’s stability in it, and opportunity for appreciation.
What are some of the challenging times that you have navigated as an agent?
September 11, that was a very difficult time and it was a very difficult market. The country was grieving. Then in ’06, when the market was full of short sales, foreclosures, we saw people lose everything.
Selling through difficult markets has taught me to understand and react to what’s going on around you. I’ve learned to be thoughtful of the client, their needs, and their personal situations instead of applying one rule to everybody. That’s how I’ve always approached and sustained my business and continue to build on it.
People who are ready to move and sell their homes can easily find me—I try to not be pushy or flashy. Clients can usually sense that in our conversation.
What do most people hesitate or worry about in your experience, and what advice do you give them?
I get calls all the time from people concerned about losing money: losing money if they buy a house now, if they sell their house now. I always tell people that you have to go with what your own personal situation tells you. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it.
But if they’re interested in putting their house on the market, I also try to spend a good deal of time evaluating the current market—it’s 100 percent changed since even three or six months ago. It’s always in flux. If someone wants to buy a house, we do the same thing. I tell them what I’m seeing for trends, pricing, and activity, and I go over that with all my clients before we make decisions.
What other advice do you have for people thinking about entering the market?
It’s more important now than ever before to make sure that you are working with agents who are full-time, who are proficient, who are professional, and who have a proven track record of success. When the market was unstable, anyone could basically put a house on the market, put a sign out, and that was it. It’s easy to sell real estate in a market where homes are selling themselves.
But it’s not easy when the market gets challenging, and you need the transactions to close, and when you need certain resources to assist. It helps to have an agent who knows who to reach out to if something needs special attention.
What do your clients say makes you one of those trustworthy agents?
My years in the business, my strong reputation for success and ethical practices, and my consistency in performance over the years. Maintaining a level of business for as many years as I have, I think that speaks volumes.
To list your home with Elena Price, visit elenaprice.com.This is a paid partnership between Elena Price of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Boston Magazine's City/Studio