Making Space In The Heart of Boston
By Lauren Varga
Forego the T subway system and mass transit options in Boston; a better view of this walking city will be afforded by strolling down its brick sidewalks. Whether following the Freedom Trail or planning a walking path of your own, gas lamps, public gardens and century-old brownstones pave the way through Boston’s neighborhoods.
“If you want to see what is happening, go for a walk around town,” offers Maryann Hoskins of LandVest, Inc. “There is a lot going on here.”
As you wander down narrow walkways and popular avenues, take notice of the city’s answer for a growing market. For starters, the Back Bay neighborhood, which originally served as a rear waterway, was converted to filled-in land in the 19th century and is now a renowned luxury neighborhood.
“Back Bay and Beacon Hill will account for 80 percent of the luxury market,” says Hammond GMAC Real Estate’s Dave Stenberg. “They will always set the standard for Boston in this segment of the market.”
Stenberg defines the Boston market as “extremely well-established” and offers that properties in Back Bay and Beacon Hill will go for $3 million and up.
“Boston has maintained steady market activity,” boasts Larry Rideout of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty. “The desirability of our city, its restaurants, cultural events and other draws keep the buyers coming.”
Boston’s inventory demonstrates its resilience. Rideout notes inventory recently has held an average of 4 to 6 months of availability, down from 18 months in Spring 2009. But, when the inventory is low and buyers still yearn to get into Beantown, where do they turn?
Perhaps the addition of full-service, high-rise buildings and the conversion of brownstones into condo units can provide an outlet. These options provide more available space to buyers willing to pay the asking price.
“A unique property will sell itself,” explains Jonathan Radford of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. After being on the market for 39 days with an asking price of $2.275 million, a penthouse unit at 302 Beacon Street sold for $2.125 million. “This shows the demand of accurately priced properties,” explains Radford, who made the sale.
The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, the Clarendon and W Boston Residences all offer full-service luxury living in desirable locations. Their easy access to iconic neighborhoods, famous avenues (such as
Newbury Street, which flaunts high-end shopping), and historic landmarks will come at a premium. The Boston Listing Information Network (LINK) states there are 13 condominiums currently on the market ranging from $5 million to $23.5 million ($1,119 to $2,783 per square foot).
For buyers looking to break into Boston’s real estate market without breaking the bank, Stenberg suggests looking at up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Charlestown.
“Charlestown has come a long way and prices are substantially less than Back Bay and Beacon Hill,” explains Stenberg. “If you’re looking for a market that has potential going forward, Charlestown is a possibility.”
Whether one opts for a brownstone with character or a full-service high-rise, Boston is making room for motivated buyers.
“This is the most exciting time to live in Boston,” says Hoskins. “It is nothing short of sensational to see the transformation of the city’s neighborhoods bursting with young entrepreneurs and buildings being transformed into the 21st century.”
At A Glance:
- There are currently 80 properties available in Boston at $3 million or more. Forty-one are in Back Bay and 23 are in Beacon Hill.
- Through Oct. 31, 2009, the average sales price of homes in the $3 million-plus range decreased 5.7 percent over the same period in 2008, but the median price actually rose 1.4 percent.
- When marketing properties in the uber-luxury segment, Realtors such as Rideout turn to international clientele to reach the right buyer.