The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here. “The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

  • Biggest Mistakes Real Estate Buyers Make – How To Avoid Them

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • “Bring Your Contractor” – Three Great Renovation Candidates
    • 287 Commonwealth Avenue, unit 4
    • 282 Beacon Street, unit 6
    • 50 Brimmer Street

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 185 Marlborough Street, unit 3 – Plain Vanilla (in a good way) Older Renovation – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

Biggest Mistakes Real Estate Buyers Make

When we see real estate transactions where the valuation seems out of line, we do a little digging to see what we may have missed and to get a better understanding of the parties involved in these deals. More often than not, when it comes to transactions with inflated prices, at least one of three common denominators is at play: out of town buyers, dual/designated agency, or a sales agent out of their geographic area of knowledge.

The dirty little secret of real estate brokerage is that brokers and their sales agents won’t stop you from overpaying – they’ll look the other way. Below is a brief look at the three common pitfalls. 

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

  • NEW – The Batterymarch Back Bay Index© – A Breakthrough Valuation Tool

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 29 Commonwealth Ave. (Haddon Hall) – You’d Think That They Are Giving Them Away!

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 126 Marlborough Street – Full Price – Record $/SF – Well Sold
  • 101 Chestnut Street, unit R – All the Money, but All the Apartment! – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

NEW – The Batterymarch Back Bay Index© – A Breakthrough Valuation Tool.

Trying to nail down what’s going on with real estate valuations is for the most part a fool’s errand, largely because the data is, for a lack of better explanation, manipulated. We’re launching our first in what will be a series of reliable valuation indices – the Batterymarch Back Bay Index© (BBBI).

The BBBI tracks both valuation and transaction volume of Back Bay two bedroom condominium resales as reported by MLS. It eliminates outlier transactions (defined as price per square foot >100% of the trailing twelve month average), new development sales, and off market transactions. By eliminating the noise, market participants can get a clean view of what is actually going on in the secondary market.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

2022 Market Outlook

Can the Goldilocks Market Continue?

As we head into 2022, we ponder how long the “Goldilocks” environment for real estate values can continue. Having spent decades on Wall Street, we’re the first to acknowledge that forecasting future market moves is generally a humbling task.

Last year in our core markets, Back Bay and Beacon Hill, prices were more or less flat on higher volumes. The Batterymarch Back Bay Index© registered a year-over-year price gain of just 1% on 24% higher volume, although the ultra high-end of the market ($10mm+) fared much better.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In This Issue

  • A Record Breaking Deal at 126 Marlborough? – The Perfect House for Willy Wonka!

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 94 Beacon, unit 2 – A Pre-Victorian Floor Plan? – Offered at $3.499 Million

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 101 Chestnut Street, unit Q – Quick Deals Happen for a Reason – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

A Record Breaking Deal at 126 Marlborough? – The Perfect House for Willy Wonka! 

As we close out 2021, the luxury market story is all about the extreme high-end. We’ve had eight Back Bay condominiums and four Beacon Hill single families fetching north of $10 million. For the most part, these properties have a wow factor consistent with the wow price tag (although we weren’t big fans of 14 Walnut). Every once in a while a transaction comes along that leaves us wondering if the seller found a buyer or a victim.

Last week, 126 Marlborough Street, a 4,788 square foot single family, hit the market with a head scratching asking price tag of $11.0 million ($2,297/sf). The following day the listing indicated that there was an accepted offer.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In This Issue:

‘Tis the Season to Buy Real Estate!

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 2 Strong Place – A Great Beacon Hill House, But an Alley Is an Alley – Offered at $3.595 Million

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 8 Spruce Court – A $2.0 Million Private Squash Court? – Well Bought
  • 19 Charles River Square  – Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Came Early to CRS! – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

‘Tis the Season to Buy Real Estate!

They say that due to congestion at our ports, getting a bargain this Christmas season is pretty much out of the question. But when it comes to buying real estate, now is the time for buyers to sharpen their pencils and make their move.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

Myth Debunked – The Value of Real Estate Always Goes Up – Big Beacon Hill Loss

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 63 Mount Vernon Street, unit PH – Gulp, They Want How Much? – Offered at $16.99 Million

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • Mandarin Oriental, PH 2A/1E – $27.5 Million Off Market Blockbuster Deal – Well Sold
  • 257 Commonwealth Ave, unit 5  – A Win-Win On Commonwealth Avenue – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

Myth Debunked – The Value of Real Estate Always Goes Up – Big Beacon Hill Loss

A common refrain we hear over and over from the realtor community is that the value of real estate always goes up. While it’s true that the value of most assets increases over longer time periods, it’s not an iron clad rule when it comes to real estate. Just ask the seller at 73 Mount Vernon Street, unit 1.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

Who Really Pays the Fee? Understanding Buyer Rebates

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 305 Commonwealth Ave, unit 2 – A Solid Back Bay Duplex, With a Fancy Price Tag – Offered at $10.6 Million

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 301 Berkeley Street, unit 5 – A Great Co-Op Apartment, Even Better Value – Well Bought
  • 191 Commonwealth Ave, unit 61 – Big Money, Odd Layout – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

Who Really Pays the Fee? Buyer Rebates

They say that if a product or service is free, the customer is the product. Conventional thinking in a real estate transaction dictates that the buyer doesn’t pay the transaction fee – the seller does. This is largely because the seller “negotiates” the fee (we use the term negotiate loosely, see our recent report “The Boston Real Estate Oligopoly”), and the fee is accounted for as an expense to the seller on the HUD closing statement. But the buyer is the one writing the check, so aren’t they paying the fee?

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

Are the Japanese Right About Secondhand Homes?

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 347 Commonwealth Ave, unit B – Classic Back Bay Floor-Through, Older Renovation. Offered at $3.99 Million
  • 96 Beacon Street, unit 2 – Perfect Spot for the Wombles of Wimbledon. Offered at $5,650,000

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 1 Dalton Street, unit 3601 – A Million Dollar Flip – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

Are the Japanese Right About Secondhand Homes?

According to the Japanese government, the “useful life” of a house is officially 22 years. This isn’t some non-cash accounting gimmick, houses (not the land) become completely worthless in Japan after 20 – 30 years. When a property changes hands, new owners demolish the existing structure and start from scratch. While this may seem odd to us, we need to recognize that in the U.S., commercial property is fully depreciated over 27.5 years.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in the downtown Boston market. More about our services here.

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

  • “Private” Outdoor Space – Is it Overrated?
  • Property Spotlight – 100 Beacon (Multiple Units), Great Building/Units, But Punitive Operating Costs? – 285 Clarendon, unit 2, If You Love Stairs, This Is the Place for You
  • 2 Commonwealth Ave, unit PH/16E  – $15 Million Trophy Property, Record $/sf – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

“Private” Outdoor Space – Is it Overrated?

An elevator, parking, and private outdoor space are the must haves for most high-end buyers in our market. This makes sense when you consider that empty nesters looking to downsize out of their larger suburban homes make up a large part of our buyer pool. 

The first two wish list items are pretty straight forward, and the desire for outdoor space often relates to the unthinkable prospect of giving up outdoor grilling. But not all private outdoor space is created equal, and in some respects outdoor space can be overrated.

Don’t get us wrong, there are some properties that have amazing outdoor spaces that really define the property (see below, 2 Commonwealth – New $/SF Record), but this is the exception, not the rule. Actual privacy and ease of access are the two big variables when it comes to outdoor space.

The Boston Real Estate Oligopoly

Stubbornly High Fees & Other Consumer Harm

This is part of a series of articles aimed at improving consumer knowledge with respect to real estate brokerage. We operate as a licensed independent real estate broker in the downtown Boston market. Rules and regulations will likely be different in other jurisdictions. Our terms of use apply.

Buying real estate, particularly less liquid, high-end real estate, in a buyer beware state like Massachusetts is tended to with a high degree of risk. The fact that buyers and sellers are expected to navigate these risks in the context of a well established oligopoly stacks the deck against them.

An oligopoly is defined as a state of limited competition in which a market is shared by a small number of producers or sellers. It’s generally accepted that when four or fewer market participants control in excess of 50% of a market, an oligopoly exists. In the Back Bay & Beacon Hill luxury real estate market, the four largest brokers control 78% of the market.

Back Bay/Beacon Hill Market Share – Source: MLSPIN

The market dominance of the oligopoly is underscored when you consider that the fifth largest broker has a market share of just 2%. We’re defining luxury as properties that sold for $3 million and up. For the trailing 12 months ended September 30, 2021, there were 101 sales representing over $1.2 billion in transaction volume.