Boston Real Estate

In a sign of stability, US new-home sales have posted a surprising gain

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By Bloomberg | Boston Globe | May 26, 2020

New-home sales in the United States unexpectedly increased in April after swooning a month earlier, suggesting the housing market is starting to stabilize.

Purchases of new single-family houses climbed 0.6% from March to a 623,000 annualized pace, government data showed Tuesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a drop to a 480,000 rate of sales. The median sale price fell 8.6% from a year earlier to $309,900.

The report boosted the stocks of home builders, which have rebounded in recent weeks. An index tracking the industry had jumped 19% in May through Friday, beating the gain in the S&P 500.

Mortgage rates near historic lows may be putting a floor under the housing market. And even as soaring unemployment and tighter credit standards threaten to complicate the recovery, home-building is proving to be a bright spot. Builders have been helped by local governments, which in many cases have deemed the industry essential and allowed work to continue.

Job losses are primarily hitting renters who are more likely to be working in lower-paying service and hospitality jobs that were damaged most by social-distancing rules, said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo.

Unlike the existing home market, which has seen a big drop in inventory, builders were able to accommodate buyers, showing floor plans virtually and even offering drive-thru closings.

“If the reopenings continue, housing may provide an upside surprise to the economy this year,’’ Vitner said.

Three of four US regions showed stronger home sales in April than a month earlier, reflecting 2.4% gains in the South and Midwest, the Commerce Department’s report showed. Purchases climbed 8.7% in the Northeast and dropped 6.3% in the West.

The government’s data measure signed contracts to buy homes. The slight gain in April came after sales dropped the most since 2013 in March, when much of the US economy shut down to stem the spread of coronavirus.

While housing is holding up better than expected, the recovery will depend on how quickly the rest of the economy bounces back.

“We’re still trying to understand what is the new normal,’’ said Alex Barron, an analyst with the Housing Research Center in El Paso.

Take a look at 10 luxury properties on the market during the pandemic

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By Megan O’Brien | Boston Globe | May 4, 2020

The COVID-19 public health crisis has slowed many industries since Governor Charlie Baker introduced a stay-at-home order in March, and real estate is no exception. Even so, multimillion-dollar listings continue to pop up on the market.

300 Pier 4 Boulevard, Unit PHN, Seaport District

$6,765,000

3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 1 half bath

2,506 square feet

Janice Dumont at Advisors Living-Back Bay has the listing.

 

Lots of unique treasures in this Chestnut Hill mansion

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By Todd Larson | Boston Homes | March 19, 2020

The new sunroom, kitchens, bedroom suites, game-room loft, multipurpose garden level, heated three-car garage and classical terrace/patio reflect the architects’ vision of “picturesque charm and proper setting” and “sympathetic relation to the established historical domestic styles,” as Architectural Record described the house in 1910.

The angular wingspread of 152 Suffolk Road’s Spanish Mediterranean Mission façade – an architectural anomaly in Chestnut Hill – speaks volumes about its unique features: the wide variety of rooms it encompasses, the open-armed welcome it extends and the four elevator-accessible levels of comfortable living it offers.

“Because of its unique flanking design, the home does not feel so overwhelming and linear” said Manuel Davis of Advisors Living–Back Bay, who, along with Kristy Ganong, is co-offering the 14,109-square-foot, seven-bedroom residence at $12 million.

Its hospitality also owes to a three-year restoration, renovation and expansion of its 1904 design by Chapman & Frazer. This included replacing the roof with Spanish barrel clay tiles sourced from the company that made the originals (Ludowici of New Lexington, Ohio) and restoring century-old oak paneling, leaded-glass windows, fireplace mantels and other period details.

The new sunroom, kitchens, bedroom suites, game-room loft, multipurpose garden level, heated three-car garage and classical terrace/patio reflect the architects’ vision of “picturesque charm and proper setting” and “sympathetic relation to the established historical domestic styles,” as Architectural Record described the house in 1910.

This is evident upon entering the Spanish-tiled gateway to an axial path across the vast treed lawn to the arched center-entrance loggia, or motoring up the gravelly carriage drive. The façade hugs the drive, welcoming you warmly from the outset.

The entry gallery continues the warmth with oak paneling, leaded-glass casement windows and convenient direction everywhere. The west gallery leads to the dining room and great room. The east gallery accesses the back stairway/elevator hall and family room.

The central hall reaches the balustraded bluestone terrace from which a split stair descends to a bluestone patio overlooking conservation land – an elegant setting for a wedding. The hall also accesses the chef’s kitchen, the garden-level stairway and the bedrooms via a staircase with a balustrade of columned arches.

Flanking the vestibule are a walk-in coat closet and marble powder room with a hand-hammered metal sink.

The dining room, accessible by a swing door from the garden-level stair, is dressed for dinner with lamp-shaded crystal chandeliers, crown moldings upholding ceiling vaults and a marble fireplace with a carved mantel. For an apéritif or digestif, guests can withdraw to the octagonal sitting room, warm up by its fireplace, framed in carved animal/plant reliefs, and reach the terrace through a French door.

The sitting room and gallery access the great room through its curved wall of bookcases and square columns. Chicago windows with leaded glass, crystal chandeliers and fireplace-flanking French doors flood the space with light.

The French doors spill the entertainment onto a monumental Tuscan-columned porch and down to a balustraded side yard. This descends to a bluestone walk that passes through a stone archway under the terrace en route to the patio and the garden level.

The kitchens – one for formal catering, one for family cooking – boast custom Crown Point cabinetry, quartzite and marble counters including sink islands, six-burner gas ranges, Wolf stainless appliances, Miele integrated dishwashers and Sub-Zero refrigerators and wine coolers. The family kitchen has a Wolf espresso machine and a breakfast bay. Symmetrical with the sitting room, the bay also accesses the terrace through a French door.

The family room preserves a mantel of orange terra cotta tiles with fleur-de-lis and pinwheel accents and a stone hood with scrolled brackets and egg-and-dart moldings. Oaken ceiling beams, wall paneling and benched recesses for the leaded-glass casement windows add baronial grandeur.

Glazed double-doors introduce the sunroom, to which an Arts-and-Crafts tiled floor and a chandelier of bronze serpents and lions dangling bell lights give sympathetic relation to the historic family room. A door with arched transom accesses a deck over the garage.

The front stairway lands at a leaded-glass window on axis with the rear terrace before ascending to the bedroom level where all but one of the six bedrooms have en suite marble baths. A front-window sitting area precedes the junior suite with a bay window.

Across the corridor is the master suite’s dressing room with a window-seat, marble sorting island and a carousel chandelier.

Through a door is the palatial master bath of Calacatta Bellissimo marble.

“The designer Marie Share and ownership bought excess marble used to hand-pick only the tiles that perfectly match,” said Davis.

Matching fixtures include a bay-windowed Victoria & Albert soaking tub made from volcanic limestone, a twin-sink vanity with central makeup station, a benched shower with rain, fixed and hand-held shower heads, a towel-warming rack and water-closet where the commode automatically lifts up when the frosted-glass door is opened.

A double French door connects the bath to the master suite’s central hall, where a wet bar is handy. The hall accesses a triangular walk-in closet and the master bedroom, where a classic mantel frames a white marble fireplace and a double French door opens to the great-room porch’s roof, which can be decked.

Along the opposite corridor are the separate bedroom and bath, the bay-windowed study, a windowed laundry room and the three remaining bedroom suites. One has a sitting bay and a walk-in closet; another has deck access over the garage.

The hipped roof forms a cathedral game room with paneled square pillars that conceal the steel columns that were newly installed to support the rebuilt roof. Off the game room are a windowed bonus room, a shower bath and storage/mechanical attics under the wings’ roofs.

The garden level has three entertainment spaces. One displays framed original blueprints of the house and a reclaimed copper-hooded brick fireplace – newly framed with a classic wood mantel.

Also down here are a 4,000-bottle-capacity wine cellar; an overflow laundry room and an au pair suite with a separate entrance from the bluestone walk. There’s also a spa/gym with a bath, steam shower and cedar sauna; and a mudroom incorporating a pet spa with hand-held shower and an antique coal-burning stove by “Cyrus Carpenter & Co., 44 Hanover St., Boston” from the original basement kitchen.

Beside the mudroom are a powder room and garage access.

PRICE PRESSURES

In Boston’s luxury condos, supply-and-demand economics don’t apply

Boston’s luxury condo market is facing a mismatch between supply and demand: Developers are building condos aimed at the wealthiest buyers, but buyers are looking for a wider range of prices, according to real estate experts and recent data.
While Boston’s population is growing, wage growth hasn’t kept up with the fast rise of prices, according to a recent recap of Boston’s luxury condominium market by The Collaborative Cos.
“Buyers have not been able to fully engage in this new, costlier market,” the report said. “The factors which would traditionally support a fast-absorbing pricing dynamic do not appear to be available for this current supply of product.”
In other words, thousands of luxury units are being built across the city, but sellers may have to lower those prices or risk sitting on unsold condos until the supply-demand imbalance gets restored. The report recommends that a consistent volume of sales can only happen if new residential units are designed with a broader range of sizes and price points.
Record-high sales prices

Total home sales fell over the course of 2019, sending worries through Boston’s residential brokerage community. But at the same time, Boston saw record-high sales prices: The median cost for a condo in Boston was $810,000 in 2019, and average listing prices were $280,000 higher in 2019 than in 2018, said Laura Gollinger, vice president of The Collaborative Cos., who oversees research and design development programs for the Boston-based residential consulting and analytics firm.

“Some people were kind of saying the sky was falling. And in reality, yeah, the absorption was less. But the price points were much higher,” Gollinger said. “The number of transactions was slightly less, but the price points were record-setting.”

For instance, at both the recently opened Four Seasons Private Residences One Dalton Street in Back Bay, and at Pier Four in the Seaport District, some units sold at over $4,000 per square foot. “The city’s never seen anything like that,” Gollinger said.

Some 25,700 units are either planned or under construction across Greater Boston, according to the report. In the Seaport alone, some 1,200 apartments and condominiums are expected to come online within one block of each other, at NEMA Boston, EchelonSeaport, Gables Seaport and the St. Regis Residences, Boston.

EchelonSeaport is a good example of unit diversity: With a price range of $700,000 to $5 million and higher, EchelonSeaport has seen a “brisk pace,” selling around 10 units per month.
This year prices may level off, which could allow wage growth to catch up, said Mike Schlott, president of Kinlin Grover Real Estate, which operates from Cape Cod through Plymouth and Bristol counties.

“The last couple of years I think we’ve seen a more normalization in price appreciation in Massachusetts,” Schlott said. “Hopefully wage growth is keeping up with that.”

Million-dollar battles

The heaviest competition continues to be for homes priced under $1.5 million. In past years, the buyer pool would have been focused on the under $1 million range, Brian Dougherty, managing director of residential brokerage Compass in Boston and head of the firm’s private brokerage division, said.

“The price band under $1.5 (million) is where buyers have to roll up their sleeves and really make a very strategic effort to find a place in core Boston,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty recalled one property, priced at $1.25 million, that recently received 17 offers to buy. “There are for sure buyers that in years past would have been in the mix, and they’re kind of waiting it out, or they’re priced out of the market,” he said.

Boston’s buyers have predominately been locals, Gollinger said, as opposed to Manhattan, which tends to draw a larger pool of foreign investors. As a result, the pool of buyers who can afford an ultra-luxury product is small relative to the city’s entire residential market. In 2019, for all of Boston’s luxury residential buildings, there were just 60 transactions at $6 million and above, Gollinger said. Most of those were at One Dalton and Pier 4.

“As you get larger in terms of your price point, your demand dips,” Gollinger said.
At the ultra-luxury Raffles Back Bay Hotel & Residences, now under construction now at 40 Trinity Place, a majority of units will be priced between $2 million and $5 million. That’s an example of where The Collaborative Cos. is advising developers to not emphasize the top 1% of buyers.

“There’s definitely demand for both new luxury and new mid-luxury,” Gollinger said. “I just caution that, as people are planning new projects, really keeping in mind who the buyer is, because having empty buildings isn’t good for anybody.”

100 Shawmut Developer Says Presales Strong

By Banker & Tradesman | March 9, 2020

The developer of a 138-unit luxury condominium tower in Boston’s South End says presales activity has been strong ahead of its scheduled completion this fall. The Davis Cos. partnered with the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association on the 100 Shawmut condo development, which held a topping-off ceremony Tuesday.

Designed by The Architectural Team of Chelsea with Suffolk as construction manager, 100 Shawmut redeveloped and expanded a 6-story office building into a 13-story, 232,000-square-foot condo tower. The building will feature high-end finishes designed by Embarc Studio and a 13th floor indoor-outdoor lounge.

Advisors Living is the project’s sales agent. Other members of the project team include Copley Wolff Design Group, Howard Stein Hudson Associates, McNamara Salvia and WSP. Construction lenders include M&T Bank, Berkshire Bank, HarborOne Bank, Needham Bank and Bank of New England. The project complied with Boston’s inclusionary development policy by designating BCEC and CCBA as recipient of its affordable housing contribution. The organizations are planning to develop 536 apartments and condos on neighboring parcels, including 26 percent dedicated for affordable housing.

South End’s 100 Shawmut tops off, with fall opening expected

The 13-story condo building in the busy Boston enclave is expected to have 138 luxury units

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The 13-story, 138-unit condo building at 100 Shawmut Avenue in Boston’s South End officially topped off on March 9, lead developer the Davis Companies announced. The luxury development in a neighborhood peppered with them is expected to open this fall.

Pre-sales have already started at 100 Shawmut, and a release from Davis says that they’ve been met “with strong interest.” But a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

The development at Herald Street and Shawmut Avenue is due to include 22 studios, 34 one-bedrooms, 23 one-bedrooms with a den, 27 two-bedrooms, 15 two-bedrooms with a den, 12 three-bedrooms, three three-bedrooms with a den, and two four-bedrooms. Eleven of the units will be penthouses.

“We are thrilled to celebrate yet another milestone of 100 Shawmut,” Jonathan Davis, founder and chief executive of the Davis Companies, said in a statement. “This project is a great example of an innovative and sustainable development in what is becoming a new nexus between the Back Bay and South End neighborhoods.”

Davis broke ground on the project in summer 2019. It had acquired the six-story office property there for $26.2 million four years earlier, touching off speculation about what the developer might build in a South End used to construction cranes and new housing.

The 232,000-square-foot 100 Shawmut incorporates the 1920s facade of the office building that was there within a new glass structure. The Architectural Team, based in Chelsea, handled that design, and EMBARC Studio of Boston designed the interiors. Copley Wolff is the landscape architect.

The building’s amenities are due to include a 24-hour concierge, private parking for 112, billiards, a fitness center, a dog-washing station, and a playroom for the kids. A rooftop lounge is expected to include gas grills and fire pits.

In the end, the years-in-the-making project came about through a partnership between Davis, the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church (BCEC), and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA).

Davis, as part of advancing 100 Shawmut, is contributing $15 million to a city-controlled escrow account for developing affordable housing at a CCBA-owned site at 50 Herald Street next to 100 Shawmut. That project is expected to hold 313 apartments, 26 percent of which will be designated affordable.

The partnership also means an expanded BCEC building at 120 Shawmut Avenue in the same vicinity, which will house ecclesiastical space as well as 84 housing units. Davis has also committed $200,000 to various community programs as part of the partnership, the developer said last summer.

Steel Framing Rising for 100

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By BLDUP | January 11, 2020

Steel framing is rising for the luxury condo project, 100 Shawmut in the South End. The project will offer 138 homes featuring elegant finishes including white oak wood floors and Silestone countertops. Resident amenities will include a 24-hour concierge service, valet parking, a fitness center, library, pet spa, children’s playroom, and a rooftop sky lounge.

A Warm Welcome to Woods Hill Table’s Kristin Canty

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We are thrilled to introduce you to restaurateur Kristin Canty who will be establishing the Seaport’s first farm-to-table restaurant at PIER 4.

You may recognize Canty’s name as the mastermind behind Concord’s popular Woods Hill Table. Wood’s Hill Table is an organic restaurant, complete with a full bar, that is a culmination of Kristin’s passion for food, family farms, sustainable sourcing and ancestral health.

Read the below Q&A to learn about her inspiration, favorite dishes, why this location, and more.

Q: Why this location?

A: Having grown up in the Greater Boston area, I have fond memories of celebrating with friends and family at Anthony’s PIER 4. As a restaurateur, I’m inspired by its impact on the Boston restaurant scene. While the Anthony’s PIER 4 experience could never be replicated, we do hope to honor its legacy by providing the Seaport a convivial waterfront dining atmosphere and warm hospitality.

Q: Where do you source your products?

AWe source our products from our proprietary farm, The Farm at Woods Hill, in Bath, New Hampshire, and several other small, supporting purveyors. Purchased in 2013, our farm is the source for the vast majority of the food served at Woods Hill Table, including pasture-raised cows, pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens, ducks, lambs, blueberries, garlic, pumpkins, apples and more. The 265- acre property also boasts four beehives, and 200 mushroom logs that sprout mushroom varietals including oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane and maitake.

Q: When did you open Woods Hill Table and why?

A: I purchased the farm in 2013 and opened the doors to Woods Hill Table in March 2015.

Ever since I was personally impacted by the healing power of food many years ago, ancestral health has become a personal and public passion. Defined by pasturing farm animals, growing produce without pesticides and embracing raw and fermented foods, the concept is seamlessly woven through the Woods Hill Table menu, allowing me to share the foods that I’ve long created for my family with the larger community.

Q: What’s your favorite dish? Ingredient?

A: I’m a huge raw food advocate, and I eat our Woods Hill Farm Beef Tartare almost every day! It’s made with beef from our own pasture raised, grass-fed cows and is both flavorful and incredibly nutrient dense.

Q: Tell us more about Farmageddon.

A: After seeing the impact the incorporation of raw milk had on my son’s health, I spent years working with and advocating on behalf of farmers locally in New England and across the country. This inspired me to produce my documentary, Farmageddon – The Unseen War on American Family Farms. The film, which was released in 2011, captures the obstacles faced by the modern farmer and the injustices, including government raids and search and seizure, so often faced by the families that form the foundation of America’s food system.

 

 

Developer Kicks Off 39-Unit Condo Development in JP

By: The Warren Group

City Realty Group has begun construction of Tempo, a 39-unit condominium complex at 3193 Washington St. in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The 5-story, 45,605-square-foot project will include units ranging from 495-square-foot studios to 1,305-square-foot three-bedroom condos. Amenities include a pet wash station, automated garage parking and bike storage.

New Boston Builders is constructing the project, which was designed by Embarc Studio of South Boston and is scheduled for completion in April 2020. Units will be marketed by Boston Realty Advisors/Advisors Living.

Studios are being marketed starting in the $400,000s and one-bedroom units will start in the $500,000s, according to the developers.