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.

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:

  • “Deep Space” – The Rockefeller 27 Foot Rule
  • New and Noteworthy – Back Bay & Beacon Hill High-End Market is on Fire
  • 205 Commonwealth Ave, unit 6 – A Back Bay Wallet Fight? – Well Sold
  • 100 Belvedere, units 11A & C – The Belvedere vs One Dalton – Well Sold  

What’s Catching Our Eye

“Deep Space” – The Rockefeller 27 Foot Rule

No office space can be more than 27 feet from a window. These were the marching orders that the architects were given when designing Rockefeller Center. Why 27 feet? Because it was determined that, given New York City’s latitude, 27 feet is the maximum distance that sunlight can permeate windows of an office building. The term “deep space” is used by architects to describe interior space beyond the reach of natural sunlight.

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:

  • Real Estate Marketing – Fact vs Fiction, Buyer Beware
  • New and Noteworthy – Taking a Loss In the Back Bay
  • 250 Beacon St, unit 17/19 – A Fair Deal, But Needs Work – Well Bought
  • 212 Commonwealth Ave., unit 2 – An Oversized 3 Bedroom Triplex – Well Sold  

What’s Catching Our Eye

Boston Real Estate Marketing – Fact vs Fiction, Buyer Beware

If you’ve ever wound up on a real estate mailing list, you’ve likely been inundated with market updates, generally highlighting how fantastic the market is and always painting a rosy picture. It’s the strategy of the brokers to have their market cheerleaders (a.k.a. their sales agents) pumping out an endless stream of dribble. Consumers need to be aware that these firms don’t have compliance departments reviewing this material and the data is often manipulated.

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:

  • Architecture and Design Don’t Lie, They Always Reveal Their Age 
  • New and Noteworthy – Mayoral Candidates See Higher Residential Taxes
  • 28 Chestnut Street – …and the Cabots Only Talk to God – Well Bought
  • 7 Mount Vernon Place – Developer Makes Out Like a Bandit – Well Sold  

What’s Catching Our Eye

The Single Biggest Mistake Buyers Make – Paying Full Price for Outdated Properties

They say that architecture and design don’t lie – they always reveal their age. Take a walk around the Back Bay and it’s easy to distinguish the original buildings, which were built in the 1800s, from the buildings that were built in the early/mid 20th century.

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:

  • Back Bay vs Seaport – Less is More in the Seaport
  • New and Noteworthy – Other People’s Money on Beacon Hill
  • 37 Branch Street – Oddball House/Street, Fair Value – Well Bought
  • 15 Marlborough, unit 4 – All the Money for an Older Renovation – Well Sold  

What’s Catching Our Eye

Back Bay vs Seaport – Less is More in the Seaport

We see the appeal of living in the Seaport. It’s new and vibrant, with good energy, especially during the summer months. But the Seaport isn’t without its critics. The normal knocks include the cold winter winds whipping off the water, rising sea levels, the monotony of the boxy glass architecture, and the lack of an established neighborhood. We continue to struggle with the Seaport value proposition.

The Batterymarch Insider

Batterymarch Group LLC is a full service independent real estate brokerage firm specializing in representing buyers and sellers in the downtown Boston market. Contact us today to learn how we can help you. More about us 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:

  • Batterymarch Mid-Year Awards – The $10 Million+ Condo Club
  • New and Noteworthy – Big Rollers Rolling Out of the Mandarin?
  • One Dalton – Big Tickets, Big Mortgages – Well Sold
  • 100 Revere Street – A Great House, Quirky Kitchen – Well Bought 

The Batterymarch Awards

$10 Million+ Condo Club Edition

As the market moves into its seasonal summer slow period, it’s time for our semiannual $10 Million+ Condo Club Awards (condominiums currently offered for $10 million+).

There are currently 11 club members.  Here they are: