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:

‘Tis the Season to Buy Real Estate!

Property Spotlight – On the Market

  • 2 Strong Place – A Great Beacon Hill House, But an Alley Is an Alley – Offered at $3.595 Million

Well Bought/Well Sold

  • 8 Spruce Court – A $2.0 Million Private Squash Court? – Well Bought
  • 19 Charles River Square  – Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Came Early to CRS! – Well Sold

What’s Catching Our Eye

‘Tis the Season to Buy Real Estate!

They say that due to congestion at our ports, getting a bargain this Christmas season is pretty much out of the question. But when it comes to buying real estate, now is the time for buyers to sharpen their pencils and make their move.

It’s true that many people take their property off the market during the holiday season and hope for a better result when the spring market rolls around. But the sellers that hang tough and keep their properties on the market during the holidays are generally serious about selling. They’re not concerned about the days on market racking up – they want out.

When a seller makes a meaningful price reduction in the last six weeks of the year, it’s the telltale sign of true motivation. In our experience, these sellers are sending the marketplace a message – they don’t want to wait around for the snow to melt and start the process over. They’re ready to deal and time matters. In just the last few days we saw price reductions at:

Source: Batterymarch Group LLC/MLSPIN

We’re not suggesting that these lowered asking prices are market correct. We’ve been in most of these properties and for the most part they still seem too high to us. That said, the combination of seller fatigue, shorter days, and a well articulated market correct bid can move the planets and the stars. Give us a call to explore attractive year end opportunities.

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.

2 Strong Place – A Great Beacon Hill House, But an Alley Is an Alley – Offered at $3.595 Million
2 Strong Place

2 Strong Place, a 2,129 square foot 4 bedroom single family, hit the market about 20 days ago at $3.595 million ($1,689/sf). The house just went through a comprehensive renovation and it has all of the bells and whistles that one would expect. The redevelopment was done in conjunction with 4 Strong Place which sold last spring for $3.2 million ($1,344/sf).

We have a soft spot for smaller single family Beacon Hill homes. They’re a great alternative to condominium living and are far more manageable than their cavernous south sloop cousins. This house, with the recent renovation, has the added benefit of that new car smell.

Pros: Newly renovated, manageable size, parking, nice outdoor space.

Cons: Curb appeal, private street, valuation.

Strong Place is a private road off Cambridge Street. Having previously lived on a Beacon Hill private road, we learned that something strange can come over otherwise intelligent people when it comes to issues like road maintenance and parking. You’re dealing in a world of “assigned” parking on a shared easement vs. actual deeded parking.

Strong Place

Contrary to the listing description, this isn’t a cul-de-sac. It’s a glorified alley (glorified may be too generous) with no place to turn a car around. Parking here is tricky under the best of circumstances. You basically have to back in from busy Cambridge Street and maneuver about your neighbors’ cars. It would be a complete nightmare during the icy winter.

From a valuation standpoint, based on two recent Strong Place transactions, the asking price isn’t outrageous. However, Strong Place isn’t what we consider a sought after Beacon Hill location; there’s a reason for the no loitering signage. We want to love this place, and at the right price, we’d be all in. But at these prices we think that there are much better options on Beacon Hill. Once the new car smell is gone, we smell liquidity problems, we’re giving it a thumbs down.

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

Well Bought/Well Sold

8 Spruce Court – A $2.0 Million Private Squash Court? – Well Bought

Sticking with our less is more theme this week, they don’t get much smaller than this one. 8 Spruce Court, a 1,140 square foot building, has a new owner, changing hands last week for $1.75 million ($1,535/sf). The property, which was originally built as a squash facility for a private club, is currently configured as a two family dwelling.

8 Spruce Court

Spruce Court is a private way that once served as the service entrance for the homes that face Beacon Street. When the MLS listing notes to “bring your imagination and your favorite architect” you know the place is going to be a basket case. And it basically is. It didn’t appear to be well maintained and it has an odd layout, shared utility meters with neighbors, etc.

So what’s to like about the place? We think there’s a lot to like. The listing description nailed it – a good architect could turn this into an amazing, albeit small, single family home by taking advantage of the huge front facing windows and 15 foot ceilings. And being just a few hundred feet from the Boston Common, the location is top notch.

It’s not easy to justify the valuation, but just for fun, let’s assume the new owner is an avid squash player and converts the property back to its original use. If people are shelling out a half a million dollars for a parking space at the Brimmer Street Garage, what’s $2.0 million for your own private squash court/gymnasium in the heart of Beacon Hill? In the context of a global pandemic, this could be the ultimate accessory!

Ok, we’re grasping at straws. We’re pretty confident that this won’t be a rewarding real estate venture from a financial standpoint, but we love it none the less and are calling it – Well Bought.

19 Charles River Square  – Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Came Early to CRS! – Well Sold
Charles River Square

After 170 days on the market, 19 Charles River Square traded last week for $3.225 million($1,081/sf), an 8% discount to the original asking price. This 2,984 square foot, 3 bedroom single family had been under the same ownership since 1970, and it definitely has that 1970s well lived in feel.

Charles River Square is a 1910-vintage planned development. In Beacon Hill terms, this is new construction. The street, which is private, has the feel of proper row houses, the kind of thing you’d find in a nice section of London. The houses on the north side of Charles River Square back up to, and have access to, the Annie Fields Gardens, the largest private garden in the area.

Unfortunately No. 19 is on the south side of the street and it backs up to Revere Street and looks out over the River House, perhaps the most hideous building in all of Beacon Hill. Backing up to Revere Street wouldn’t be a deal killer for us. These are great houses, and this one has a roof deck, a smaller lower level outdoor space, and assigned parking at the front door.

19 Charles River Square

On a price per square foot basis, this is on par with recent sales at Charles River Square. We’re very familiar with the recent sales, and in our view those homes were in far better condition. The mistake here is thinking that you can get away with only spending a half a million dollars on a renovation. Realistically, you’re looking at double that, and we’re assuming that you don’t do any piling work.

We think the price here was ill advised. We weren’t surprised to see that the buyer was represented by a Leominster-based sales agent where the average home sale price is well under $400,000. It’s a great location, and setting economics aside, once renovated it will be a great house. Santa came early to these sellers. Ho, ho, ho,  this one was – Well Sold

If Charles River Square sounds interesting, note that No. 16 is currently on the market. At 4,318 square feet, it’s meaningfully larger. It’s currently offered at $4.89 million ($1,132/sf). Reach out for more details.

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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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