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:

  • 17 Louisburg Square – Finally Gets a Contract
  • 14 Wallnut Street – The Heart of Beacon Hill, But You’ll Need a Lawnmower
  • 117 Pinckney Street – Single Family Value Play
  • 400 Stuart Street, unit 15A – Not Our Favorite Building, But – Well Bought
  • 54 Pinckney Street – Great House, Flipper Gets a Hefty Profit – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

The Beacon Hill single family market came to life in the first week of the new year:

Louisburg Square

20 Louisburg Square

It took 421 days, but 17 Louisburg Square finally has a contract (most recent asking price was $15,990,000). We’ll be keeping an eye on where this one finally settles, but our guess is that it will trade somewhat lower. The 421 days on market can be chalked up to an overly ambitious original asking price of $20,500,000.

Not to worry if you missed out on 17 Louisburg as directly across the private square, 20 Louisburg hit the market this week with an asking price of $16,000,000. 20 Louisburg last sold in 2011 for $11,500,000 and these owners spent some serious money on updates . This is the third home on Louisburg Square to hit the market in the last 12 months. These houses rarely trade, and we suspect the recent activity can be explained by demographics. We’ll be exploring demographic trends in an upcoming report.

14 Walnut Street – You’ll Need a Lawnmower

14 Walnut Street

If living on Louisburg Square isn’t your thing, we have some good news. After 449 days on the market, the sellers around the corner at 14 Walnut Street decided that it was time for a price adjustment (realtor speak for price cut) and lowered the asking price by $2,310,000 (15.5%) to $12,690,000. While this house may not have the curb appeal and prestige of the Louisburg Square, it has an over the top yard, maybe the best in Boston proper. This is one of the few city houses where the owner needs to own a lawnmower.

117 Pinckney – Value Play

117 Pinckney Street

The price over at 117 Pinckney Street, a 2,500+/- square foot single family was reduced by $345,000 (10.5%) to $2,950,000 after 75 days on the market. This house has a lot going for it – great location, windows on three sides, manageable size, seems to be well maintained (but in need of some updating), and it appears to be an estate sale, which means they’re serious sellers.

What’s noteworthy about 117 Pinckney is that a developer hasn’t snapped it up for a renovation flip. The typical play would be to buy it at $3,000,000, renovate, and try to flip it at $6,000,000 (See 54 Pinckney below). We suspect that a lot of these flippers are sitting on high cost inventory that isn’t moving and staying on the sidelines on this one. There’s a value opportunity for an end user to buy this property and do some reasonable updating and live in a great house.

Well Bought/Well Sold

400 Stuart Street unit 15A – Well Bought

“The Clarendon”

Unit 15A at 400 Stuart Street (the Clarendon) in the Back Bay, a 1,409 square foot two bedroom sold this week after 178 days on the market. The sale price, $2,195,000 ($1,558/sf), was a 15% discount to the original asking price. The seller here paid $2,250,000 for the unit back in June of 2016. After factoring in a 4% brokerage fee, the seller took a $142,000 hit to get out, more than just a rounding error.

The pricing trends in these “fan over coil buildings” (our reference to the somewhat noisy HVAC systems found in most of these large, newer developments) is clearly negative. The buyer here definitely took advantage of that weakness, but what the future holds for valuation is anyone’s guess. In the context of today’s market, we’re calling this one – Well Bought

54 Pinckney Street, Single Family – Well Sold

54 Pinckney

After 130 days on market, 54 Pinckney Street traded this week for $5,557,500 off an asking price of $5,995,000. This 3,825 square foot 5 bedroom house just underwent a well executed full renovation that included refreshing the outdoor space. The listing indicates that the property has one garage parking space, but the fine print reveals that it’s actually rental parking available at the Boston Common Garage.

This is a lovely home, but from a valuation perspective it should be recognized that the developer here bought the property 2 years ago for $2,600,000. Yes, the renovation was extensive and capital was tied up for 24 months, but a nearly $3,000,000 mark up? We smell a hefty profit here, this one was – Well Sold.

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