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:

  • 314 Comm Ave., unit 2 – $6.995 Million GOAT House – We See Value
  • 242 Beacon St., unit 9/10 – All the Charm of a Class C Office Building
  • 1 Huntington Ave., unit 1202 – Great Location, Dreadful Curb Appeal – Well Bought

What’s Catching Our Eye

314 Commonwealth Ave, unit 2 – $6.995 Million GOAT House – We See Value

Unit 2 at 314 Commonwealth Ave (the Burrage Mansion) hit the market this week with an asking price of $6.995 million ($2,044/sf). This 3,422 square foot second floor unit features three bedrooms, direct elevator access, and onsite two car garage parking.

314 Commonwealth Ave – The Burrage Mansion

Just to get it out of the way, yes, this unit was the home of NFL quarterback Tom Brady in the mid 2000s. We suppose some diehard fans may assign a premium valuation to the property and treat it as memorabilia. While the pedigree of the unit would make for good dinner party conversation, we’re setting that aside.

The building is architecturally significant and stands out as perhaps the most ornate in all of Boston. In the 1940s, the property was converted from a single family to a medical office building and subsequently used as a nursing home. In 2002, it was converted into condominium units on the condition that elements of the interior of the building be preserved as landmarks.

The unit last traded for $6.2 million in 2016, it appears that it was bought via a trust by a prominent Boston real estate broker (no, it wasn’t me). The property is attractively priced and we’d chalk that up to a knowledgeable broker who knows better than to go on a fanciful price fishing expedition. 

Pros: Location, well proportioned rooms, large windows on three sides, 2 car garage parking, reasonable condominium fees.

Cons: Shady side of the street, some may prefer to be closer to the Public Garden, the ornate architecture may not be everyone’s cup of tea (if Harry Potter lived in Boston, this is where he’d live).

242 Beacon Street, unit 9/10 – All the Charm of a Class C Office Building

Unit 9/10 hit the market last week for $3.249 million ($1,611/sf) and got an accepted offer in six days. The unit is a fairly nondescript top level three bedroom floor-through. It’s an older renovation with updated kitchen appliances. The bedroom HVAC units look like they came out of a high school cafeteria. The highlight of the unit is the new sliding doors that lead to the balcony (which seemed to offer little acoustical insulation from the Storrow Drive noise).

242 Beacon Street

This was an early 1970s condominium conversion, and it shows. In our view, the entryway has all the charm of a class C suburban office building. There is direct elevator access to the unit, but we’d describe the elevator as a two person dumb waiter. Outdoor parking is available onsite for an extra $350/month, which is in line with the area. In our opinion, about the only redeeming thing here is the location.

There has been a high turnover of units in this building recently. This may be just a coincidence, but it does raise a red flag.

On the valuation side things go from bad to worse. There have been several recent sales in this building at meaningfully lower valuations. Unit 8, directly below, which is essentially the identical unit, traded in mid 2018 for $982/sf after almost a year on the market. That unit reappeared on the market in early 2019 after a comprehensive renovation for $1,608/sf. One year, and seven price cuts later, it found a buyer at $1,108/sf last June.

Unit 6, a slightly larger unit, which was clearly in needed updating, sold last summer for $856/sf after 70 days on the market. Unit 2, a nicely renovated smaller unit also traded last summer for $1,028/sf.

The same broker represented most of these sellers, so the broker is aware that the average selling price of the four recent sales is $994/sf. We’re all for price discovery, but a 62% premium seems a bit excessive to us and it’s reminiscent of the old Wall Street boiler room operations.

Well Bought/Well Sold

1 Huntington Ave (Trinity Place), unit 1202 – Great Location, Dreadful Curb Appeal – Well Bought 

Unit 1202, a 2,465 square foot, 12th floor, three bedroom, with 2 car valet parking changed hands this week for $3.7 million ($1,501/sf) after 123 days on the market. This unit last traded back in 2004 for $2.5 million. From an architectural perspective, the building has hints of Brutalism, which you either love or hate (we could do without it).

Sitting right in Copley Square, the location is hard to beat, but the actual building site is another story, one side of the building faces the loading docks of the Boston Public Library and the Mass Turnpike eastbound entrance ramp is a chip shot away from the Huntington Avenue side. There’s no great way to spin it, the curb appeal is less than desirable.

Pros: Location, views, generous layout, great windows, staffed building.

Cons: Poor curb appeal, high monthly fees.

With the completion of One Dalton, and with the 146 Raffles condominium units poised to hit the market in the next 12 months, we expect that the competition for the luxury buyer will intensify in this area. We have longer term valuation concerns, but this was a market correct transaction and the buyer got a nice unit, this one was – Well Bought.

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