Brighton, Massachusetts, Real Estate Overview
Brighton, a thriving Boston neighborhood, is home to a mix of old and young, families and singles, professionals, students and retired people. The population is approximately 44,000, and the area of the neighborhood covers almost 2.8 square miles. It is centrally located within the Boston metropolitan area and, with Allston, is the northwesternmost neighborhood within the city. It sits on the south bank of the Charles River, is close to several major universities and includes WGBH television station, New Balance Athletic Shoe's world headquarters and Saint Elizabeth's Hospital. The combined Allston-Brighton area is one of the 20 hottest neighborhoods in the U.S. according to Hotspot Rentals, a Chicago-based brokerage. It was the only Boston neighborhood to rank in the top 25 nationwide.
Amenities and Features of Brighton
Just like its population, the options for living in Brighton are eclectic and varied. Single-family homes, new apartment buildings, historic wooden triple-deckers and stately brick condominiums are among the choices. Studio apartments, lofts and properties from one bedroom to more than five bedrooms are available. According to a major national real estate listing service, approximately 78 percent of residential properties are one- and two-bedroom units. Approximately 19 percent are three-bedroom units and about 5.5 percent are four-bedroom units.
Brighton has several subdivisions and small neighborhoods, each with distinct features and housing characteristics, including Aberdeen, Brighton Center commercial area, Chestnut Hill, Cleveland Circle, Commonwealth, Oak Square and St. Elizabeth's. Smaller subdivisions such as Foster Street and Englewood are defined by their architectural styles and historical development. Brighton Center is a major economic hub with commercial properties, government buildings, restaurants and residences. Washington Street is a popular shopping area and commercial corridor.
One of the characteristics that makes Brighton so popular is the mix of single-family homes with several types of multi-family units. More than 56 percent of the residential properties in Brighton are made up of small apartment buildings with up to four units. More than 60 percent of the housing in the area was built before 1939. Several historic districts include residential properties, commercial buildings, government buildings, places of worship and cemeteries. These older buildings present an attractive streetscape that adds to the charm of the neighborhood.
If you are looking for an investment property, Brighton is a good place to look. The proximity to major universities and ease of access to downtown make the Brighton-Allston area popular with renters. Approximately 23 percent of Brighton residential properties are owner-occupied, and 77 percent are rentals. However, the owner-occupied rate varies by subdivision. For example, neighborhoods around Chandler's Pond have owner occupancy rates as high as 88 percent.
Major thoroughfares, such as Washington Street, the Massachusetts Turnpike, Commonwealth Avenue and Chestnut Hill Avenue, provide easy access to other points within the city. In addition, commuter rail, the subway, MBTA and private buses, the silver line and commuter boats give several options for public transportation. Several neighborhoods within Brighton, including Oak Square, Saint Elizabeth's and Commonwealth, rank high in both walk scores and bike scores. In these areas, most errands can be accomplished on foot. In addition, bike sharing is a transportation option. Several Hubway stations provide easy access to nearby communities, schools and commercial zones. Zagster offers longer-term sharing and connects to apartment buildings, commercial properties and hotels.
Although Brighton has several major commercial hubs, its green space gives ample room for fresh air and play. Several parks interspersed throughout Brighton residential areas offer hike and bike trails, sports fields and playgrounds. Chestnut Hill Reservoir, situated at the southern edge of the neighborhood, is a pleasant wooded area with walking trails. Chandler's Pond in Gallagher Memorial Park is another water body offering a green space to local residents. Both water bodies are ringed by residential properties.
Market Trends for Brighton Residential Property Sales
When properties come on the market in Brighton, they don't last long. In August 2017, a 1,320-square-foot house sold within eight days. The seven-room, 1940s-era house features two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a finished basement, detached garage and an attractively landscaped garden. Hardwood floors, a brick fireplace and wood detailing around doors, windows and ceiling moldings add to the appeal. The basement could be converted to a bedroom suite. The sales price was just over $700,000, a relatively low price for the property.
One national real estate listing service calculated the median listing price for all homes in Brighton as of December 2017 at $589,000 and the median home value at $436,100, an increase of approximately 10 percent over the year. The list price breaks down to approximately $570 per square foot. The median sales price for homes in Brighton was $447,749. This company predicts that Brighton property prices will increase another 3.6 percent over the next year.
Of course, prices vary according to the type of property, subdivision, size, and condition of the building. According to one national real estate company's home value index, single-family homes averaged $751,000 in Brighton as of November 2017. In the same month in 2012, single-family homes averaged $454,000, an increase of $297,000 over a five-year period. This averages to almost $60,000 per year.
Condominiums also saw an increase in price. In November 2017, the price of a condo averaged $401,000. In 2012, the average was $247,000. This is an increase of $154,000 over five years, or approximately $31,000 per year.
In December 2017, the first condo sale over $1 million in Brighton closed at the Lancaster at 1501 Commonwealth Avenue. The luxury penthouse sold in under 50 days. Features include two master suites with baths, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen and two-car tandem parking. The price in 2015 was $806,750, approximately $638 per square foot. The 2017 selling price was $1,055,000. The condo increased in value approximately $200 per square foot in just two years.
The foreclosure rate in Brighton is 1.9 homes out of 10,000, lower than the Boston average of 4.7. The national average is 1.6.
Market Trends for Brighton Rental Properties
Brighton is a popular neighborhood for rentals. As Brighton was developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, brick apartment buildings and wooden triple-deckers were built alongside single-family homes and grand manors. For this reason, Brighton has many attractive, small apartment complexes in a number of architectural styles that contribute to the street appeal of subdivisions.
Apartments, studios, lofts, townhouses, duplexes and condominiums are available for rent in the area. To ease the demand for rental housing, many large properties have been converted into duplexes and fourplexes. Some complexes offer no-fee rentals that include utilities.
If you are an investor, rental properties in Brighton are a great way to ensure a steady rental income. If you are a renter, you can expect a lot of housing to choose from and lower rates than Boston as a whole. Approximately 81 percent of Saint Elizabeth's 14,342 residents are renters. In Oak Square, approximately 61 percent of the 14,329 residents are renters. In the Commonwealth area, 84 percent of the approximately 19,000 residents are renters. The Cleveland Circle area has a higher percentage of owner-occupied homes. Only 33 percent of the 1,382 residents are renters.
One national real estate listing service calculated that the median rent in Brighton in November 2017 was $2,226 per month, lower than the median rent for all of Boston, which was $2,632 for the same month. In November 2012, the median rental rate for Brighton was $1,824 per month. Although Brighton rents are approximately 14 percent lower than Boston's as a whole, Brighton mirrors Boston's consistent upward trend.
According to a major real estate rental agency, the median rental for a studio in Brighton in December 2017 was $1,819. A one-bedroom apartment averaged $2,339 per month, a two-bedroom averaged $2,745 and a three-bedroom averaged $3,870. Rental rates vary by subdivision, with different median rates for the popular areas of Saint Elizabeth's, Commonwealth, Cleveland Circle and Oak Square. According to a national real estate service that specializes in rentals, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Commonwealth area in December 2017 was $2,095. Prices in Oak Square were slightly lower, at $2,000. In Cleveland Circle, rents were higher. The median rate for a two-bedroom apartment was $2,475 in December 2017.
New Residential Projects in Brighton
Although there are many rental properties available in Brighton, there is a high demand for more. New construction of multi-family rental units and properties for sale has been urged by the mayor of Boston to help ease the housing crunch. In the greater Boston metropolitan area, permits were issued for approximately 14,000 new multi-family units between July 2015 and July 2016. Brighton is adding approximately 1,000 new multi-family units. Projects include new construction, renovations and redevelopment of existing properties.
One of the biggest new projects adding to residential space in Brighton is Boston Landing, a 14-acre, 1.76-million square-foot development that includes the already opened New Balance headquarters. A portion of the project is already under construction. Planned development within this complex includes the Celtic's practice facility, Bruin's practice facility, a 140,000-square-foot hotel, 325,000 square feet of office space and a commuter rail station. In addition, a residential complex with street-level retail shops is also part of the plan.
A major project approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority is the restoration and redevelopment of 159-201 Washington Street, which includes St. Gabriel's Monastery and church. The property is associated with the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, an iconic Boston landmark. The development includes restoring and repurposing the monastery, church and a nearby vacant house. Four new residential buildings will be constructed as part of the project. Approximately 7.3 acres, or 62 percent of the project site, will be public open space. A 3-acre park will be incorporated into a landscaped zone designed by the Olmstead Brothers. This area will provide a green space that connects the restoration zone with the new construction. The project envisions 555 apartment units, 101 condominium units and approximately 500 parking spaces. The new construction will meet a minimum of LEED silver sustainability requirements.
Some projects are already underway. A five-story condominium, the Aberdeen, is coming up at 1650 Commonwealth Avenue. The site features 40 residential units, parking for 40 vehicles and a ground-floor retail space that includes a lobby and fitness center for Aberdeen residents.
At 132 Chestnut Hill Avenue, a vacant building is being redeveloped for residential use with 61 rental units and 21 parking spaces. The renovation, by the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, will include several units set aside for special-need seniors, retail space on the ground floor and upgrades along Atwood Road. The project incorporates environmentally friendly and energy-saving features that meet LEED standards.
At 1505 Commonwealth Avenue, a five-story office building was recently refurbished into 80 residential units with 80 parking spaces. Known as NOVA Brighton, the property features well-appointed rental units with gated access, bike racks and common areas such as a clubhouse, fitness center and picnic areas. Several floor plans are available, including lofts, two-bedroom, two-bath units, one-bedroom units and studios. Square footage ranges from almost 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit to studios just under 400 square feet. Rental prices range from $1,865 to $3,295 per month.
Just a short distance from Boston Landing is 212-214 Market Street, a five-story condo development with 29 residential units, 32 parking spaces and a bicycle storage area. The ground floor will include retail space. Floor plans vary, with one-, two- and three-bedroom units available. Some will have decks, and others include dens. The property is near the new Boston Landing commuter rail station. The new building will replace a single-family home, one-story office building and a vacant lot.
Newly constructed 99 Tremont at Oak Square offers 62 luxury condos in several floor plans, including studios, one- and two-bedroom units. The complex includes garage parking, a concierge lobby, fitness center, bike storage, conference room and media lounge. An elevated courtyard provides green space, grills and fire pits. Nearby Oak Square offers shopping, restaurants and pubs.
Approximately 70 new rental units at 101-105 Washington Street were recently approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The project will demolish an existing synagogue complex and construct a residential building and new synagogue complex. The new residential building is envisioned as seven stories high, with 70 parking spaces and bike racks. The apartments include community use areas such as a lounge and roof deck.
Brighton Listings by Boston City Properties
Boston City Properties offers a number of services for buyers, sellers, renters and investors. We have listings in neighborhoods throughout the greater Boston area and agents who specialize in specific communities. If you are looking for properties to purchase or rent in Brighton or other Boston communities, we have exclusive listings in our database. We update our database each day to keep ahead of the fast-paced Boston market. Our website allows clients to search the Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service database. If you would like alerts for particular neighborhoods or listings, we can help you set that up.
Our listings include presales for properties such as 99 Tremont and the Aberdeen, allowing you to secure a place in a new establishment during the construction phase. We list luxury apartments and condos as well as brownstones, lofts, single-family homes and studios. In addition, we work with investors, property owners and managers who want to market properties. We use a number of platforms to advertise and show properties. Virtual tours, models of units, videos, photography and on-site visits are some of the ways that we showcase listings. We have listings in more than 75 websites.
We get to know our clients so that we show appropriate properties to buyers and renters who may be searching for a specific culture, architectural style or are looking for amenities such as access to public transportation or proximity to schools. Brighton's several neighborhoods each have their own atmosphere and characteristics, and the buildings contribute to that. Great restaurants, delis, Whole Foods Market, outdoor malls and clothing shops are just a few minutes' walk from most of Brighton's subdivisions. We can help you find a place to live near the commercial establishments that are important to you. If you prefer a quiet enclave far away from commercial hubbub, we can help with that as well.
Our market experience allows us to work with both sellers and buyers to set a sales price and negotiate the sale. In addition, we help clients work through the maze of paperwork associated with buying and selling properties. We can provide historical information about property taxes, previous sales prices, neighborhood sales data and rental averages.
We also have agents who specialize in real estate auctions. Foreclosures entail additional paperwork and legal expertise. Although Brighton has fewer foreclosures than many other neighborhoods in Boston, there are distressed properties that may be of interest to buyers. We can help you work through the legal requirements for foreclosures and auctions.
If you are out of town and moving to Boston, we have innovative ways to let you preview properties without having to be present. Many agents now use drone photography and videos to provide up-close details of a property. You can see the property from the air and from the ground to get a better idea of the location and geography. We provide several formats of presentations such as videos of the interior and schematic floor plans to let you get a better idea of the layout, space and detailing.
We are open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Our location in Copley Square is central to the greater Boston metropolitan area. We have been the number one real estate office in the volume of rental listings in Massachusetts from 2010 through 2016. We also list commercial properties and retail space. Call Boston City Properties today at (617) 247-1933 to speak to one of our brokers. We will be happy to discuss market forecasts, individual properties and characteristics of various neighborhoods.