The Batterymarch Insider

“The Batterymarch Insider” is a brief snapshot of our current market thinking and some highlights of what we see going on in the downtown Boston market. As always, our “terms of use” apply. We encourage you to subscribe.

In this issue:

  • 7 Willow Street – It’s Confirmed, Staging Works
  • 45 Province St., unit 1706 – How to Lose 53% of Your Equity in a Hot Real Estate Market – Well Sold
  • 51 Beacon St., unit 5 – Great Apartment, But All the Money – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

7 Willow Street – It’s Confirmed, Staging Works

7 Willow Street, a small three bedroom single family located at the top of Acorn Street on Beacon Hill, has an accepted offer after just 4 days on the market. The house last traded in 2015, when it was bought by an investor for $2.054 million. An interesting tidbit of trivia for car enthusiasts is that the property was previously owned by a member of the Porsche family. 

7 Willow Street

After spending time on the rental market, the house was put up for sale in 2019 for $2.95 million. After 410 days, a few price cuts (ultimately to $2.775 million), and with no buyers in sight, the seller called it quits last fall. Enter a new broker, a slightly lower price ($2.695 million), some fresh neutral paint, and a good staging job, and shazam – accepted offer in 4 days.

We’ll have to wait to see what the final sale price is, but if it’s anything close to the asking price the seller’s making out like a bandit. We’re big fans of smaller single family homes, and we wanted to love this property, but in our opinion there are some meaningful shortcomings. 

The basement bedroom has a sump pump in the closet which, to our nose, gives the room a bit of a swampy smell. There are no bathrooms on either of the living floors, limited closet space, and no entryway coat closet (problematic in our book). 

The property is being marketed as 2,300 square feet which presumably includes the basement bedroom and bathroom. The City records indicate the living area is 1,768 square feet. Based on the City records, the asking price is $1,524/sf versus the average sale price of Beacon Hill single family of $1,248/sf.

The punch line – staging works.

Well Bought/Well Sold

45 Province unit 1706 – How to Lose 53% of Your Equity in a Hot Real Estate MarketWell Sold

Unit 1706, a nondescript 1,405 square foot two bedroom at 45 Province Street, traded last week for $1.425 million ($1,014/sf). Located between Bromfield and School Streets, 45 Province is a 30 story, 137 unit condominium building built in 2009.

45 Province Street

In our view, it’s an oddball location. It’s very convenient to downtown if anyone still cares about that, but not really part of any established neighborhood. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that it is just across the street from Sam LaGrassa’s, arguably the best sandwich place in the City – yes, this is a selling point.

The unit last traded in 2016 for $1,610,000, so these sellers took a quarter million dollar loss to get out, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. Public records show that the unit was financed with a $1.127 million mortgage, which means the sellers lost 53% of their equity. As they say in Vegas – thanks for playing.

The buyer here did ok, but between high condominium fees and a less than desirable location, we think that the seller did the right thing by taking the loss. This one was – Well Sold

51 Beacon Street unit 5 – Great Apartment, But All the Money – Well Sold

51 Beacon Street

There’s a lot to like about unit 5 at 51 Beacon Street. Located right on the Boston Common, this 1,388 square foot 2 bedroom penthouse level unit traded this week for $3.1 million ($2,233/sf) after 67 days on the market. The unit has been tastefully renovated with well proportioned rooms, a floor plan that takes full advantage of the views, and two walkout outdoor spaces.

The unit has the blessing and curse of west facing party wall windows. A blessing as they bring in afternoon light, but a curse in that the neighboring building (52 Beacon) just installed a new rooftop deck. We think that it would be pretty annoying to listen to your neighbor’s gatherings (right outside your windows) on warm summer nights.

Pros: Location, nicely renovated, direct elevator access, nice outdoor space, easy access to rental parking.

Cons: Valuation, neighbor’s roof deck.

This is a wonderful move-in ready premium property, but in our view the buyer paid a premium price, maybe even an excessive premium. The seller definitely had the upper hand on this one, we’re calling it  – Well Sold.

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3 thoughts on “The Batterymarch Insider

    1. Andrew Haigney Post author

      237 Marlborough was bought by a developer for $5.1 million back in 2016 who converted it back to a single family. We’re familiar with the designer and builder, they do good work and are active in the spec building world.

      The house was bought for $8.995 million in August of 2018 and reappeared on the market less than two years later with an asking price of $10.9 million. It lingered even after cutting the price by nearly a million dollars last summer. It finally traded after the listing expired for $9.0 million last month.

      After fees, the seller (who appears to be a sophisticated real estate investor) took a loss to get out which was probably the right move. The price here ($1,547/sf) is a premium to the newly renovated single family at 175 Beacon Street which sold last October for $1,407/sf (it could be argued that Marlborough deserves a premium over Beacon Street).

      Conversely, this is a meaningful discount to the spec house located at 352 Marlborough which is currently being offered at $2,050/sf. 352 Marlborough hasn’t found a buyer after 209 days of marketing, we’d say the market is sending a clear message on that valuation.

      The recent sale at 237 Marlborough is at the high end of market correct, we’d call it – Well Bought. It’s a great property and the new owner should enjoy it for many years. The bigger picture issue for us is buying spec vs bespoke construction.

      We provide owner’s rep services, and we can say definitively that the difference between high-end spec construction and a true custom project is significant. Every decision a developer makes ties back to their P&L, and that can almost always be seen in the finishes. In the custom world, the finishes that you don’t see are generally what distinguish a high-end home from a true luxury property.

      Reply
      1. Andy Goodwin

        Appreciate your insightful answers and all of your market analysis. This blog is an incredible resource for sellers, buyers, brokers, and developers alike!

        Reply

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