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:

  • 180 Beacon Street – Taking care of business while doing your business?
  • 110 Arlington Street, unit 4 – Value trap
  • 122 Commonwealth Avenue, unit 2 – Well sold
  • 4-5 Arlington Street, unit 7 – Well bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

180 Beacon Street – Taking care of business while doing your business?

Real estate sales agents go to great lengths to present properties in the best possible light. Anyone who has sold a home in recent years knows the drill – get rid of the clutter and your ugly furniture and consider staging. Do anything to make the place look fresh and crisp, and try to hide the fact that it hasn’t been updated in over a quarter century.

180 Beacon Street

Unit 5E at 180 Beacon Street, a river facing 1,409 square foot two bedroom offered at $1,795,000 ($1,274/sf), came on the market this week. 180 Beacon, at 17 stories and 114 units, is an architectural misfit in the Back Bay. Exterior aesthetics aside, it’s in a great location and a very desirable place to live.

What caught our eye about 5E was the telephone next to the toilet. Nothing screams this place needs a total renovation like a land line at the throne. In the wireless era, taking care of business while doing your business can now be done more discreetly. So our marketing tip is to remove the telephone before the photo shoot.

110 Arlington Street, unit 4 – Thumbs Down

110 Arlington Street in Bay Village is a redevelopment project that was originally slated to be a small boutique hotel. When the City didn’t grant approval, a new developer stepped in and created five residential condominium units.

110 Arlington Street

The units were first offered for sale in mid 2019 and found no takers. A new broker was brought in and the prices were modestly cut, and still no buyers. Subsequently, the units were offered for rent to no avail. They’re once again being offered for sale.

Unit 4, a 2,310 sf 3 bedroom with garage parking is offered at $3,000,000 (1,299/sf), a $449,000 discount to the 2019 price.

Pros – Windows on three sides (we counted 16 windows), the unit gets great light, the finishes are in line with this price point, and new construction with parking for under $1,300/sf is attractive.

Cons – The bottoms of the windows are very high off of the floor (note, as far as we can tell, this is the only unit in the building with this issue), and this stretch of Arlington Street gets heavy traffic and in our view lacks the Bay Village charm.

We see long term value here when (and if) the neighboring open air parking lots get developed, no doubt into luxury housing. Until then, the parking lots are an eyesore and the idea of living through years of heavy construction at our doorstep isn’t appealing. The deal killer for us is the prison cell effect of the window height. Tempting price, but we see a value trap here. In our book, this one’s a – thumbs down.

Well Bought/Well Sold

122 Commonwealth, unit 2 – Well Sold

122 Commonwealth Ave

Unit 2 at 122 Commonwealth sold this week for $5,725,000 ($2,680/sf), a $75,000 premium to the asking price. Was this a bidding war? Perhaps, but what we do know is the luxury market is alive and well in Boston.

The story at 122 Commonwealth is a common one. The developer bought the building in 2018 for $10.3 million, spent 18 months creating three luxury condominium units, and now seeks to flip the units for $24.5 million (it sounds so easy, but in reality it’s not). One unit down and two to go at 122 Commonwealth, including a $13.2 million penthouse duplex. We haven’t been in the building, but this is a top notch developer, so we assume the finishes are spot on.

Thanks to our friends over at Back Bay Houses, we were entertained to read how the house was described by a child who lived there in the 1890s. “My father had bought a house in town. It was a big house – not on the swell side of Commonwealth Avenue where all our friends lived, but on the shady side.” This was a dual agency transaction and we’d say that the seller had the upper hand on this one, plus, it’s still the shady side of the street. This one was – Well Sold.

4-5 Arlington Street, unit 7 – Well Bought

4-5 Arlington Street

Unit 7 at 4-5 Arlington Street changed hands this week for $5,350,000 ($1,879/sf) a 6% discount to the original asking price. Located on the Public Garden, this 2,847 square foot penthouse 3 bedroom unit comes with parking and one of the nicest private roof decks in the city.

Readers of our work know that we’re big fans of large square footage on a single floor, and this unit also has the benefit of windows on three sides. These buildings were originally built for the late 1800s luxury market with all of the amenities of the time, including a bowling alley. At one point the building served as a dormitory for the Katharine Gibbs School before being converted into condominiums in the mid 1990s. This was a dual agency transaction, but we think that the buyer did well, this one was – Well Bought.

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