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.

Typically in situations like this, what’s really going on is the sales agent had been quietly marketing the property and found a buyer (they’re usually dual agency deals). Agents then list the property in the MLS system so they get recognition – it’s like bragging rights. Assuming we’re correct that this was a prearranged transaction, we would expect the sale to close at the listed price. 

A New Single Family Record Price Per Square Foot?

126 Marlborough, Rear

According to MLS records, the highest price per square foot paid for a Back Bay single family home is $1,829/sf when 197 Marlborough Street sold in late 2017 for $8.8 million. Assuming that 126 Marlborough trades at $11.0 million, that would represent a 26% premium to the previous price per square foot record. It should also be noted that according to MLS records, only five Back Bay single family properties have ever traded above $1,500/sf.

The developer bought the property in January of 2020 for $5.2 million ($1,001/sf) after is sat on the market for nearly a year. Flipping it for $2,297/sf leaves nearly $1,300/sf, or $6.731 million to cover the renovation related expenses. While there are a ton of variables in these construction projects, typical renovation cost for a higher end spec built single family renovation in the City can be around $300 – 400/sf. Naturally, when it comes to custom work, the sky’s the limit.

While we haven’t been in this house, we’re familiar with this developer’s work and it’s safe to say that they produce a high-end product. The same developer currently has two other single families for sale. 352 Marlborough Street is offered at $9.75 million ( $2,050/sf) and has been on and off the market for 543 days, and 86 Chestnut Street is offered at $6.48 million ($1,797/sf) with 702 total days on the market. Nice places, but they don’t exactly fly off the shelf.

Money Grab?

Glass Style Elevator – An Acquired Taste

So is this a money grab (see previous note)? In our opinion, and judging from 30,000 feet, we’d say yes. It’s a great location, but at under 18 feet wide, it’s not the house we’d look to sink a ton of dough into. There are some great features, including parking for four cars (two in the garage, two outside) and an outdoor kitchen on the roof deck, but these aren’t unique things in the Back Bay.

The second floor kitchen setup is good for formal entertaining on the first floor, but we think most buyers would prefer the kitchen to be on the first level. There is a prominent tubular glass elevator. As we see it, glass elevators are ok in shopping malls and they made perfect sense for Willy Wonka, but we think they’re kind of cheugy in a private home. Do you really want to be on full display while you are ascending and descending in a slow moving elevator?

We’ll keep you posted when we get the final sale data.

Property Spotlight

Batterymarch Group is focused on buyer representation, so the highlighted listings are not ours. These are our opinions, so take them with a grain of salt. We’re happy to set up showings of these properties, offer our valuation analysis, and assist with preliminary renovation budgets when needed.

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

Unit 2 at 94 Beacon Street hit the market last week with an asking price of $3.499 million ($1,590/sf). The second floor unit features 3 bedrooms, direct elevator access, a private roof deck, and parking for one car in a tandem set up. 

Pros: location, large front windows facing the Public Garden, parking, nice outdoor space.

Cons: Needs updating, valuation, small kitchen, poor floor plan.

The main feature of this unit are the floor to ceiling front facing windows. They get full sun pretty much all day long. Also, being on the second floor, the 11 foot ceilings give a real sense of spaciousness. Some people may find that location a bit too busy. We love the location – right on the Public Garden, easy access to the Esplanade, Back Bay, and Charles Street.

The last time the unit traded was back in 2004 and our guess is that not much has happened in terms of updates since. As we see it, updating the unit will entail opening up walls in the main living area, and that’s not cheap. The layout of the rear half of the unit is problematic in our book; it’s effectively a string of rooms without a hallway.

94 Beacon Street, Rear

Hallways are actually a relatively new concept in architectural terms. They didn’t really come into fashion until the Victorian era. Prior to the advent of hallways, people would circulate from one room to the next, which is the case in the rear half of this unit. You go through two rooms to get to the rear bedroom.

The location will likely win the day on this one, but we’d caution our clients not to underestimate the cost of renovations, and to keep in mind that the rear layout of the unit isn’t ideal. We’d be price sensitive here, but at the right price it’s a thumbs up.

The property is listed with Compass, and, as usual, we’d be happy to set up a showing and walk you through our valuation analysis.

Note: Unit 1, a 2,115 square foot three bedroom lower level duplex at 94 Beacon is also currently offered for sale. The asking price for that unit is $2.795 million ($1,321/sf).

Well Bought/Well Sold

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

A prewar co-op duplex on the flat of Beacon Hill – what’s not to love? Unit Q, an 1800 square foot 2 bedroom plus duplex at 101 Chestnut Street, sold last week for $2.7 million ($1,500/sf) after just 3 days on the market. The scale of these units is on the small side, but as these kinds of buildings were built as apartment houses (as opposed to brownstone conversions) the rooms are well proportioned.

101 Chestnut Street

Built in 1920, 101 Chestnut is an 18 unit co-op at the end of Chestnut Street. Built in the Italian Renaissance style, it has an understated entrance that opens onto a large brick courtyard. The maintenance fee for this unit is $3,217/month which we see as reasonable when you consider that it includes property taxes, doorman, heat, hot water, etc.

Owning a co-op isn’t for everyone. There are some rules that many consider to be overly restrictive and in this case financing is limited to 50% of the value of your co-op shares. There are definite advantages to co-op ownership, some of which we recently highlighted here. This unit feels a bit “old fogey,” but we see the updating work as more superficial. The value looks market correct to us, we’re giving the advantage to the buyer, it was – Well Bought.


About Batterymarch Group LLC – Batterymarch Group is an independent full service real estate brokerage and advisory firm focused on the downtown Boston high-end residential market. We represent both sellers and buyers with a sharp focus on valuation. We also offer sub-advisory and owner’s representation services to financial institutions, family offices, and trustees.

About Andrew Haigney – A 25 year Wall Street veteran, Andrew held senior positions at leading global investment banking institutions where he routinely valued and negotiated complex securities transactions on behalf of institutional clients. Andrew has been an outspoken advocate of a universal fiduciary standard. In founding Batterymarch Group, Andrew brings that same discipline and passion to the real estate brokerage.

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