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:

  • Price Slashed at the Sudbury – Where is Bulfinch Crossing?
  • Real Estate Commissions – What Buyers Need to Know
  • 17 Louisburg Square – $13.5 Million, Well Sold
  • 157 Beacon Street – 12 Price Reductions, Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

Price Slashed at the Sudbury

The Sudbury at Bulfinch Crossing is a new development consisting of 55 condominium units that sit above a 368 unit apartment house. This building is part of a phased development that when finished will consist of 800+ residential units, 200 hotel rooms, a 1.15 million sf office tower, and 82,000 of new retail space.

The Sudbury – Bulfinch Crossing

Where exactly is Bulfinch Crossing? It’s the site of the Government Center parking garage that spans Congress Street. The reason you’ve never heard of Bulfinch Crossing is because it’s a “neighborhood” that was invented by the developer’s marketing team. From a residential perspective, it’s what we call no man’s land.

So what’s catching our eye about the Sudbury? This week the price of Unit 3605 was slashed by 22% and is now offered at $2,950,000. Interestingly, the listing was subsequently canceled and re-listed as unit 36E, perhaps so as to not call attention to the price reduction?

Would we live at the Sudbury? No. The views are great and once all of the phases of the project are complete it will probably be a very nice place to live. But owning a fancy condominium above an apartment house with shared amenities, and putting up with years of construction around us isn’t our idea of luxury living. 

Real Estate Commissions – Buyers Need to Pay Attention

Real estate commissions are about as transparent as highway tolls in the era of automated toll collection transponders. We regularly pass under toll collection systems, and while we know we just paid a toll, we often have no idea how much the toll was.

Since real estate commissions are generally accounted for as an expense of the sellers, buyers don’t always pay too much attention to them. In our market, the agent representing a buyer would get between 2 and 2.5% commission. But when a property sits around for a while, many listing agents will increase the buyer’s agent’s compensation to entice them to push that property. Some recent examples:

The Cosmopolitan, a development in the South End, is offering buyer’s agents a 4% commission. The Sudbury (see above) recently raised the buyer’s agent commission from 2 to 2.5% on a bunch of units. A unit at 300 Boylston Street that just went under contract had raised the buyer’s agent commission from 2 to 3%.

The takeaway is that if your agent starts pushing one property over another, you may want to start asking questions.

Well Bought/Well Sold

 17 Louisburg Square – Well Sold

17 Louisburg Square

Ring the bell – we have a new price record for a single family home in Beacon Hill. 17 Louisburg Square finally changed hands this week for $13,500,000 (the previous record belonged to 74 Beacon Street which sold for $12,500,000 back in 2014). The final sale price is a 34% discount to the ill advised original asking price of $20,500,000, which explains why it took well over a year to find a buyer.

Unlike 74 Beacon Street, don’t expect to find a new rooftop heated infinity swimming pool at 17 Louisburg Square. We worked with a potential buyer of this property and while the house is lovely, the renovation estimate was well north of $5,000,000. Louisburg Square homes trade at a well deserved premium, and in our view the seller got the premium. For the buyer, the premium is probably well worth it, it’s an amazing property. This was a tough call, but we’re calling this one – Well Sold.

157 Beacon Street unit 2 – Well Bought

157 Beacon Street

Death by 1,000 cuts, that’s how we previously described the marketing of unit 2 at 157 Beacon Street, a generic 2 bedroom parlor and above duplex. You can stick a fork in this one – after 12 price reductions, and two brokers, it finally sold this week for $1,500,000, a 46% discount to the original asking price of $2,799,000 back in June of 2019.

It’s not entirely clear what you’re getting here. The original broker pegged the square footage at 2,050 square feet (which matches the city’s records). The subsequent broker indicated the square footage was approximately 1,572 square feet. Compounding the problem is the fact that the master deed has been amended multiple times. Using the lower square footage brings the price to $945/sf, not bad when you consider it includes parking. If for some reason the unit is actually 2,050 square feet, that would be $731/sf – a Back Bay bargain. Either way, this one was – Well Bought.

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