Lowell real estate for week of Oct 21, 2013

Here are real estate sales in Lowell for the past week. For several months now there’s been a clearly discernible trend of most sales following into one of three loosely defined categories. First are sales of properties that have been owned by the same person or family for several decades. Because real estate values have appreciated so much over that period of time and because people who bought houses back then tended to focus on paying off mortgages rather than repeatedly refinancing to pull equity out of the property in the form of cash, owners in this group are making out very well. Whether these sellers are simply downsizing and staying in Lowell is possible, but it’s more likely they are relocating to other communities or regions. The second major group are properties that have had a foreclosure in their recent past. These are being sold by institutional owners (i.e., the bank that did the foreclosure and ended up owning the property) or by owner/investors who are just once removed from the foreclosing lender. It’s beneficial to be getting these properties back to owners who live in and maintain the property and keep their taxes up to date.

The third category are sales by people who bought during the last real estate boom, roughly from 2003 to 2008. As you can see from many of the cases listed below, these people are selling now for considerably less than they paid for the property. Given the slight down payments made during the boom period, most of these sellers were underwater on their mortgages. Some with other assets may have paid significant amounts at the closing to pay off the mortgage and sell the house. More likely, these sellers are in “short sales” which is when the lender agrees to release the security interest (i.e., the mortgage) for less than is owed.

I believe this new flexibility by banks is the result of a law the Commonwealth passed last year that requires lenders to jump through a number of (reasonable) hoops before foreclosing. Because the law is still very new, lenders may be unsure of the practical parameters of the law, so erring on the side of caution, they are now more willing to release these liens for less than the full amount. The banks will realize losses because of this, but the old owners will no longer be trapped in these houses and the properties will now be in the hands of owners that are more stable financially. If you’re not in the middle of one of these, the recently foreclosed sales and the short sales are the end stages of flushing away the debris left from the collapse of the real estate market in 2008. For that reason, the development is mostly positive.

October 21, 2013 – Monday
70 Main St for $127,000. Prior sale in 2005 for $243,000
41 Hoyt Ave for $165,500. Prior sale – 2013 foreclosure
73-79 Varney St for $200,000. Prior sale in 2002 for $233,000
50 Temple St for $420,000. Prior sale – 2012 foreclosure
16 Alcott St for $258,000. Prior sale in 1979 for $31,900

October 22, 2013 – Tuesday
355 Pawtucket Blvd #28 for $97,500. Prior sale in 2004 for $118,000
107 Saratoga St for $220,000. Prior sale in 1986 for $80,000
186 Burnham Rd for $155,000. Prior sale in 1997 for $119,900
41 Grove St for $190,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $170,000

October 23, 2013 – Wednesday
no sales

October 24, 2013 – Thursday
404 Butman Rd for $170,000. Prior sale in 2013 for $135,000
202 Barker Ave for $170,000. Prior – 2012 foreclosure
217 Liberty St for $77,000. Last sale in 1961
144 Shaw St for $171,000. Prior sale in 2007 for $230,000

October 25, 2013 – Friday
99 Highland Ave for $248,000. Last sale in 1963
20 Woodland Dr #351 for $185,000. Prior sale in 2004 for $228,000
50 Longmeadow Dr for $255,000. Last sale in 1972
35 Riverwalk Way R208 for $174,000. Prior sale in 2005 for $250,000