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Boston Market Update: Aspirational Pricing, Bid Wars & Everything In Between

 

 

Here we will take a closer look at first quarter sales activity in the following neighborhoods: Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Midtown, North End, Seaport, South End, Waterfront, West End. Select neighborhoods are reporting record prices, both in terms of selling prices and prices per square foot (largely achieved by the delivery of brand new luxury developments), but a decrease in the overall pace of sales may be a sign that we are heading toward a cooling period from the growth that has dominated the past 6 years or so. 

Comparing the first quarters of 2018 to 2017 (including all condominium and co-op price points):

  • the number of closings was down 10% from last year
  • the number of properties being put under agreement was down 16% from last year

Since 2018's first quarter saw fewer new listings than both 2017 and 2016, limited inventory is one explanation for the decrease in sales. In a limited inventory market, days on market statistics typically remain low, as has been the case in recent years. But for the properties that have sold in Q1 2018 compared to last year, days on market is actually up over 15%. Now, even with fewer listings to choose from and compete for, buyers are taking more time to watch the market. Whether it is due to expectations of rising interest rates, anxieties over the current political climate, or concerns if we’ve already reached a high point in the cyclical nature of the market, Boston's buyers are increasingly wary of overpaying. 

An era of aspirational pricing? 

Buyers are especially taking their time in the top of the market, a segment dominated by boutique and large-scale new developments of Boston’s recent building boom.  In the last few years, developers have been able to command premiums for their product by offering superior product and superior services in high-demand downtown locations (all this in the face of rising construction costs). The term, “aspirational pricing,” has been gaining ground for listings that have been priced at dramatic premiums above current market conditions. In a softening luxury market, the question stands if the “aspirational” pricing of developers reflects conditions of the years past more so than the current reality. Some aspirations will continue to be realized - albeit with longer market time - if true value is realized in the location, views, finishes and amenities the property offers.

Others will be left to sit on the market. 

In the first quarter, only seven properties closed above $5million citywide while twenty-six remain active on the market. It took an average of 48 more days for these properties to sell than all others priced below $5million.

In other segments of the market, would-be buyers do not have the luxury of being overly price conscious. Specific areas and price points have and will continue to draw bid wars and over-asks immediately once a property is listed. This is especially the case regarding properties in or below the $1million to $2million range, even more so if they include multiple bedrooms. A common formula stands for these types of properties: list the property mid week; hold open houses and private shows through the weekend; collect bids early in the following week. Because of the intense appeal of Boston among a wide range of clientele – from suburban empty nesters to young urban professionals to international investors – this formula is likely to hold.

Sources: LINK; MLS

Average Price Per Square Foot by Neighborhood in Boston

This snapshot provides average asking prices per square foot in 13 Boston neighborhoods. The prices listed are for the first quarter of 2018, below which are the percent changes from the same period last year. 

For the neighborhoods in this analysis—which does not include all of the neighborhoods of Boston—the overall price range for the city through the first 3 months of 2018 ranges from $510 per square foot in East Boston to $1,528 per square foot in Beacon Hill, where boutique luxury developments have just been completed and are setting records in the neighborhood.

Because Boston's product is very limited, individual buildings can have a large effect on price per square foot statistics. In addition to boutique luxury developments driving numbers in Beacon Hill, the delivery of units at Fifty Liberty in the Seaport has helped to raise average pricing there over 100% from last year's first quarter.

Click the below graphic to expand.

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Top 1st Quarter Condo Sales

Boston’s 10 most expensive condominium sales of 2018's First Quarter

The city's top condominium sales are spread throughout five neighborhoods and represent a mix of boutique and full-service homes. All properties except Penthouse 2A at the Ritz Carlton and Unit 4 at 301 Berkeley Street are either brand new construction, or were recently built within the last few years.  

Sale Price

Address

Area

Beds

Baths

SF

Closed

$15,110,000     

Maison Vernon # PH

Beacon Hill

4

4.5

4,025

03/29/2018

$10,200,000

25 Beacon # 2*

Beacon Hill     

3+       

3.5       

4,015     

03/16/2018     

$10,200,000

Ritz Tower II # PH2A*

Midtown

5

5.5

4,703

02/12/2018

$6,777,000

Millennium Tower # 5102    

Midtown

3

4.5

3,172

03/14/2018

$6,461,800

50 Liberty # 11B

Seaport

3

3.5

2,083

03/21/2018

$5,600,000

Maison Vernon # V

Beacon Hill

3

3.5

2,903

03/02/2018

$5,295,000

50 Liberty # 8B

Seaport

2

2.5

2,083

03/22/2018

$4,960,000

301 Berkeley St # 4*

Back Bay

4

3.5

3,550

01/24/2018

$4,843,900

Pierce Boston # PH 28E

Fenway

3

3.5

2,548

03/08/2018

$4,838,500

50 Liberty # 7B

Seaport

2

2.5

2,083

03/20/2018

 

*Indicates sales for which Campion and Company represented the Seller and/or Buyer. 

Source: LINK

Beacon Hill Townhouse Spotlight

Offered exclusively by Campion and Company for $6,500,000, 90 Chestnut Street is one of Boston's rarest architectural treasures. View the Listing

Built in 1898 and extensively remodeled in 1926 on one of The Flat of Beacon Hills most desirable streets, 90 Chestnut Street is a 5-story townhouse of true historic distinction. The Federal Revival style home was built as the residence of Henry Davis sleeper, America’s first interior designer. This fashionable purveyor of taste has garnered much fame for homes he did for clients, such as Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks and the Vanderbilts, but also for one of his own homes, Beauport, the Gloucester Harbor mansion that is now a national historic landmark. To this day, and in thanks to subsequent owners who have faithfully renovated, restored and maintained the magnificent property, 90 Chestnut remains full of decorative flourishes chosen specifically by the nationally noted antiquarian, collector, and interior decorator.

The entire 6,576 square foot house is a historic treasure, yet remains timeless in its ability to cater to modern lifestyles. The gracious floor plan splendidly incorporates formal and informal living and entertaining areas and offers 5 sun-filled bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms, all enhanced by a private elevator and spacious roof deck. Cleverly built-in storage and displays fill every nook and cranny of the home so that every inch serves an aesthetic and functional purpose. The floor plan also brings with it wonderful flexibility to be used as a single residence or two separate units—one a first and garden floor duplex, the other a 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor elevator triplex.

One step in the door and it is apparent that this Flat of the Hill home was constructed and finished in the finest manner. A gorgeous mahogany paneled reception room with a leaded glass curios cabinet offers a glorious first impression as to what the rest of the home has to offer. Take the elevator or climb the stairs to the living room floor and you step right into the heart of the home that is absolute elegance. This approximately 21’ by 39’ entertaining space is paneled floor-to-ceiling and features finely detailed carved pilasters and classical door casings. Built-ins abound, including bookcases, collectibles vitrines and a complete wet bar. A carefully lit oval skylight and corner fireplace finish this fine, perfectly symmetrical room.

Just beyond this living room is a home office or media suite complete with a bay-windowed seating area facing the hidden gardens of Beacon Hill. This space has its own half bath and a variegated marble fireplace depicting an Aesop’s Fable, the Wolf and the Crane, in carved relief, a fine example of how the home’s design evokes literary, as well as, historical themes.  

Up one flight of the curving staircase is the spacious family room and kitchen. The family room is a large, 20' by 21' space with additional skylights, a grand mantelpiece and graceful Adam-style detailing. The kitchen is accessed through a wonderful original butler’s pantry with zinc-lined sink, unique backlit windowed display case and a warm, hearth tile floor that continues into the kitchen. The eat-in kitchen features a beamed ceiling, antiqued pickled pine cabinetry, triple windows facing Chestnut Street at treetop level and direct elevator access. On the opposite end of this floor is another suite consisting of a fireplaced bedroom, bay windowed dressing area facing the gardens and a full bath.

On the fourth floor rests the master bedroom suite, which has a large mirrored bath with oversized Jacuzzi tub set beneath a skylight and exceptional closet storage offered by a large walk-in, additional closets and custom built-ins. The huge master bedroom with beautifully detailed fireplace and Juliet balcony is set below an oversized skylight with electronically controlled shades. Another bedroom suite with full bath on this level is currently used as a sun-filled home gym.

The home’s massive, private roof deck with wonderful city views is one level above and is easily accessible via a full, sky-lit staircase. It has been newly renovated by the current owners and is equipped with water, gas and electric.

The duplex suite on the first and garden levels is also enchanting, featuring an octagonal shaped entry foyer leading into a large living room. Currently in use as a formal dining room, it boasts beautiful garden-facing windows and countless architectural flourishes.

Adjoining this space is a bedroom suite that Henry Davis sleeper used for his own quarters. Downstairs is a large oval-shaped room detailed in a High Victorian Gothic style, off of which is a comfortable glass-ceilinged conservatory and bedroom with a full bath. The kitchen on this lower level includes a breakfast room set beneath glass block skylights to Chestnut Street that were completely and painstakingly restored to their original design.

This one-of-a-kind townhouse is complete with a parking space at the Brimmer street Garage.

View all Campion and Company Exclusive Listings

 

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Another Record Year for Campion and Company

We are pleased to report another banner year, having closed over $460,000,000 in residential real estate in Boston and the surrounding towns. Last year, we had the top market share in the city for condominiums and single-family homes priced above $1,000,000, as well as for all properties priced above $1,000 per square foot. We look forward to many more successful collaborations with buyers, sellers and developers in 2018.

What will be the tallest buildings on Boston's skyline by 2020?

Four of the top five are currently existing. 

  1. 790'     200 Clarendon Street, (1976, Back Bay)
  2. 749'     Prudential Tower (1964, Back Bay)
  3. 742'     Four Season Private Residences One Dalton Street, Boston (Under Construction, Back Bay)
  4. 685'     Millennium Tower (2016, Midtown)
  5. 614'     Federal Reserve Bank Building (1977, Downtown/Waterfront)

At 790 feet, 200 Clarendon Street (formerly known as the John Hancock) has been Boston's tallest building since its completion in 1976. The Henry-Cobb designed office tower will soon be joined in the top three by another work by the architect in collaboration with Cambridge Seven Associates: Four Seasons Private Residences One Dalton Street, Boston.* One Dalton will rise 742 feet at its highest point, becoming the tallest residential building not just in Boston, but in all of New England. Currently under construction, One Dalton has already become visible on the Boston skyline. 

 

Curbed reports more on Boston's existing tallest buildings and the city's developing skyline here.

*Campion and Company is exclusively representing the sales of the white-glove residences at One Dalton.

 

Back Bay's New Skyline with One Dalton

Rendered above: Back Bay Skyline once One Dalton is complete

Architectural Treasures of Boston

Boston's streets are lined with countless properties of historical and architectural significance. In Beacon Hill, perhaps Boston's most historic neighborhood, 32 Lime Street is one such architectural treasure, featuring a second-floor great room of exceptional size and scale. The great room takes influence from 17th-century English design and includes a double height beamed ceiling, grand fireplace and large mullioned windows that admit a flood of light. The property is currently offered for sale by Campion and Company.

The Great Room at 32 Lime Street

Great Room double height window detail

 

More about 32 Lime Street and its architect: 

The house was built ca. 1914 by architect Richard Arnold Fisher, an architect responsible for many homes and apartment houses throughout Boston and New England. The house is a wonderful example of a simple re-working of older Adamesque Georgian motifs common to the Hill, as well a celebrated effort to eschew traditional scale. Perhaps inspired by the enthusiasm for the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston and the Bohemian artists’ colony thriving on the Flat of Beacon Hill, the work of Fisher and his contemporaries sanctioned more freedom in altering older buildings’ proportions, especially in regards to increasing light to the interior. Among Fisher’s best-known works were his residences on Beacon Hill. Primarily constructed during 1902 to 1915, the period in which he practiced alone, these homes included 36, 34, and his own residence, 32 Lime Street. Today the townhouse is owned by just the third owners since it was built.

 

Two full stories of copper- edged windows centrally aligned on the front facade of 32 Lime Street uniquely provide light to the neighboring row house, also designed by Fisher. 

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Over-Ask in 2017: Back Bay

Back Bay remains one of Boston's most desirable residential neighborhoods, as evidenced by the number of transactions that take place at or above a property's asking price.

On average in Back Bay during 2017....

  • All studios traded 2.3% above asking price
  • All 1-bed condos traded 0.5% above asking price
  • All 2-bed condos traded 0.5% below asking price
  • All 3-bed condos traded 2.5% below asking price
  • All 4-plus-bed condos traded 6.1% below asking price

   By price point...

  • Condos that closed between $500,000 and $1,000,000 traded 0.9% above asking price
  • Condos that closed between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 traded 1% below asking price
  • Condos that closed between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000 traded 2.6% below asking price
  • Condos that closed between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 traded 2.6% below asking price
  • Condos that closed between $4,000,000 and $5,000,000 traded 4.8% below asking price
  • Condos that closed above $5,000,000 traded 5.6% below asking price

All condo types in Back Bay sold for 99.5% of asking price in an average of 48 days. In 2016, for comparison, condos sold for 98.5% of asking price in an average of 59 days.

Multiple offer scenarios and bidding wars are likely to remain a common occurrence for those looking to purchase in Back Bay, particularly for properties in or below the $1M - $2M range. 

Source: MLS

 

416 Marlborough Street, Unit 3. Sold over asking price by Campion and Company.

416 Marlborough Street, Unit 3. Sold over asking price by Campion and Company.

Top Townhouse and Single-Family Sales of 2017

Boston’s 10 most expensive townhouse and single-family sales of 2017

Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End contain the city's top townhouse and single-family sales. Properties marked with an asterisk (*) represent sales for which Campion and Company represented the Seller and/or Buyer. 

Selling Price       

Address                            

Area                   

Beds     

Baths     

SF           

Closed               

$13,000,000

197 Marlborough St

Back Bay

5

5+

7,575

11/30/2017

$8,000,000

6 Mt Vernon Pl

Beacon Hill

6+

6+

7,500

09/26/2017

$7,025,000

22 W Cedar St 

Beacon Hill

5+

4.5

5,365

06/20/2017

$6,850,000

9 Walnut St 

Beacon Hill

5+

4+

6,032

07/31/2017

$6,600,000

225 Beacon St*

Back Bay

5+

5+

6,383

03/21/2017

$6,000,000

144 W Canton St

South End

3

2.5

3,078

10/16/2017

$5,890,000

43 Chestnut St*

Beacon Hill

4

4

4,290

04/28/2017

$5,750,000

78 Mt Vernon St 

Beacon Hill

4+

3.5

3,750

07/24/2017

$5,325,000

29 Hereford St*

Back Bay

4

4.5

3,737

07/17/2017

$5,200,000

321 Beacon St

Back Bay

4

3.5

4,439

02/10/2017

Source: LINK

Top Condominium Sales of 2017

Boston’s 10 most expensive condominium sales of 2017

The city's top condominium sales are concentrated within Back Bay, Beacon Hill and Midtown and represent a mix of boutique and full-service homes. All properties except the sale at 25-27 Commonwealth Avenue are either brand new construction, or were recently built within the last few years.  

Selling Price       

Address                                                

Area              

Beds     

Baths    

SF           

Closed          

$17,200,000

25-27 Commonwealth Ave # 25

Back Bay

5

4+

7,554

6/22/17

$13,540,000

6 Newbury St # 301

Back Bay

4

6

6,095

11/15/17

$11,833,303

25 Beacon # B/PH*

Beacon Hill

3

3.5

4,044

9/27/17

$10,650,000

Millennium Tower # PH3B 

Midtown

3

4.5

4,110

11/30/17

$9,250,000

Millennium Tower # PH4E 

Midtown

3

4.5

3,435

6/22/17

$9,035,000

Whitwell, The # 5A 

Beacon Hill

3

3.5

6,129

2/24/17

$9,000,000

Millennium Tower # PH3E 

Midtown

3

4.5

3,435

9/15/17

$9,000,000

448 Beacon St # 8 

Back Bay

4

5

4,069

4/25/17

$8,950,000

Millennium Tower # PH3A

Midtown

 

 

4,172

1/12/17

$8,850,000

25 Beacon # 3*

Beacon Hill

3

3.5

3,583

9/26/17

*Indicates sales for which Campion and Company represented the Seller and/or Buyer. 

Source: LINK