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.

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:

  • Cooperative Apartments – Why We Love Them, Part 1
  • Property Spotlight – 282 Beacon, unit 6, $5.7 Million, Kind of Pricey, But Worth a Look
  • 81 Beacon Street, unit PH  – Amazing Potential, Reasonable Value – Well Bought
  • 14 Walnut Street –$10.5 Million, This Isn’t Downton Abbey!  – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

Cooperative Apartments – Why We Love Them, Part 1

We’re big fans of cooperative apartment ownership for a host of reasons. We’re not going to get into all of the nuances of co-op ownership here, but we’ll highlight one of the many things we find appealing.

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:

  • Raffles Residences – The New Kid on the Block – $2,500 To Get the Sales Pitch
  • New and Noteworthy – Pivoting at The Sudbury
  • 128 Beacon Street, unit A  – Spacious Apartment, Reasonable Value – Well Bought
  • 776 Boylston Street, unit PH2E – $21,500,000 Sale at the Mandarin – Well Sold
  • 445 Marlborough Street – Discount to Replacement Costs – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

Raffles Residences – The New Kid on the Block – $2,500 To Get the Sales Pitch

Boston’s Back Bay is the future home for Raffles Hotels & Resorts’ North American debut. The hotel and condominium project, which is currently under construction, sits on the outskirts of Copley Square at 40 Trinity Place, just behind the Hancock Tower (yes, we know, it’s now called 200 Clarendon). This will be one of the few “hotel service” buildings in Boston. Interested in hearing more?  Get out your check book because it’s going to cost you $2,500 just to get the sales pitch.

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:

  • Price vs. Value – Beware of the Money Grab
  • New and Noteworthy – Penthouse Sellers Raising Prices – Maybe It’s Not Transitory?
  • 4 West Hill Place, unit 4 – Good Value on the Flat of the Hill – Well Bought
  • 22 Liberty Street, unit PH2A – Seaport Flipper Hits a Home Run – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

Price vs. Value – Beware of the Money Grab

Early in my career, I worked for my family’s broker-dealer where we specialized in trading the securities of closely held public companies. These securities traded by “appointment only” in the “Pink Sheets” and included companies like Boston Sand & Gravel, Nantucket Electric Company, Bar Harbor Water Company, the Boston Athenaeum, and the list goes on. Like high-end real estate, the over-the-counter market was illiquid and highly inefficient. Our clients depended on us to do proprietary research to get the valuations right.

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:

  • Flipping Condominium Units – It’s an Awful Way to Get Rich
  • New and Noteworthy – A Great Back Bay Building Gets Better
  • 90 Commonwealth Ave, unit 2/3 – Driving Architects into an Insane Asylum – Well Sold
  • 314 Commonwealth Ave, unit 2 – A Great Apartment, With Bragging Rights – Well Bought  

What’s Catching Our Eye

Flipping Condominiums – It’s an Awful Way to Get Rich

Ten years ago, buying and flipping new development condominium units in Boston was somewhat rewarding. Developers were happy to leave a little financial meat on the bones for the flippers because they were able to sell out their projects quickly. Flippers today are learning the hard way that this has become a very crowded trade.