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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
A: We 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.
BOSTON — The Davis Companies hosted a groundbreaking celebration to launch 100 Shawmut, the South End’s newest collection of thoughtfully designed luxury condominium residences slated to open in Fall 2020.
100 Shawmut is the first of three abutting projects, collectively approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency, to commence construction. Speakers included Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, Jonathan Davis, Founder & CEO of The Davis Companies, Steven Chin, Senior Pastor at the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church, and Paul Chan, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.
“Today, we celebrate the groundbreaking of 100 Shawmut – a project realized through a unique partnership between The Davis Companies, the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association,” said Jonathan Davis, Founder & CEO of The Davis Companies. “Our collaboration has yielded a dynamic development for the historic South End and this innovative property will ensure that our Chinatown-based non-profit partners will be able to serve the community for years to come, in addition to bringing new housing and jobs to our city.”
Located at the intersection of Herald Street and Shawmut Avenue, the $170 million, 13-story, residential project is comprised of 138 condominiums, including studios, one, two, three- and four-bedroom units, many featuring a den space.
When 100 Shawmut is completed, the 232,000 square-foot property will seamlessly integrate the historic character of the original 1920’s facade with a newly constructed glass structure designed by The Architectural Team (TAT). The building will have a number of private balconies offering sweeping vistas of the city. EMBARC Studio, the interior design team, has created a modern approach to the interiors with a mixture of white oak wood detailing and textural stone conveying a warm, neutral color palette, transitioning and merging the neighborhood architecture with a fresh, new interior.
The building will have a comprehensive amenity program that includes 24/7 concierge, private parking, a private dining/conference room with an entertaining kitchen, a great room, a billiard room, an activity lounge, library, fitness center, dog wash station and children’s playroom. The Penthouse features an indoor and outdoor residents lounge, and a rooftop sky lounge equipped with gas grills and fire pits. 100 Shawmut also houses 3-levels of enclosed private parking containing 112 spaces for residents.
“100 Shawmut presents a rare opportunity to live in a stylish, new condominium building in the South End, one of Boston’s most sought-after historic neighborhoods,” said Janice Dumont, CEO of Advisors Living. “The definition of modern luxury has just been elevated. The comprehensive amenity program, along with the building’s incredible views, private outdoor spaces and the availability of three-and-four- bedroom residences and penthouses creates a new lifestyle experience in the heart for the city for homeowners. We are privileged to be the exclusive brokerage firm for The Davis Companies on this unique property.”
The Davis Companies will be making a $15,000,000 contribution toward the creation of Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) units in an escrow account controlled by the BPDA for the benefit of the CCBA Building. In addition, The Davis Companies has committed $200,000 to various community programs.
Suffolk Construction is the general contractor for 100 Shawmut. The Architectural Team, Inc. located in Chelsea, MA is the design architect and EMBARC Studio, located in Boston has designed the interiors. Copley Wolff Design Group is the landscape architecture firm for the project. Engineers for 100 Shawmut are McNamara Salvia, WSP and Howard Stein Hudson Associates.
The project is financed by a $105,000,000 construction loan from M&T Bank with participating lenders that include Berkshire Bank, HarborOne Bank, Needham Bank, and Bank of New England.
The Davis Companies is an integrated real estate investment, development and management firm headquartered in Boston that has invested more than $6.2 billion in gross asset value through real estate equity, debt and fixed-income securities. A combination of capital markets, development and management expertise allows The Davis Companies to nimbly tackle complex opportunities. Directly, and with its valued partners, The Davis Companies currently owns a real estate portfolio of approximately 10.2 million square feet of office, retail, hospitality, light industrial, healthcare and life science properties and approximately 5,000 residential units across the Eastern United States.
Advisors Living is a full service luxury real estate lifestyle and brokerage company representing residential, new development, and leasing clients. Our team is committed to exceptional service and delivery and our depth of experience is unparalleled in today’s market. The properties we represent include Pier 4 in the Seaport, which has achieved the highest price per square foot to date in the City of Boston. New development sites extend as far north as Newburyport and as far south as Westport with a strong presence in the metro west and Boston markets.
Meet the Archer Residences, 67 very fancy units coming to Beacon Hill in the near future. The Archer’s penthouse, which is currently the most expensive home for sale in the city at a whopping $18 million, is poised to be architectural marvel when it’s completed. Both levels of the home are connected by a floating wood-and-steel staircase enclosed by glass—and the shiny glass accents don’t stop there. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors in the main living area open directly to a rooftop terrace, where there’s a Jacuzzi and an infinity-edge pool.
Welcome to Boston, tech wizard/financial planner/GE executive! Your new apartment has elegant fixtures, stainless appliances, underground parking, a fireplace, and a view of the harbor in a gleaming new building.
But that name, though.
All over Greater Boston, luxurious new living quarters are sprouting up like gleaming, modernist weeds. And a lot of them, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, have names. Not names like the apartment building you may have grown up in — “23 Stanley Street” — but Names. The Eddy. VIA. TROY. The Kensington. Watermark. Alloy. The Allele.
Allele is, of course, Adele’s less talented younger sister (you may have heard her hit song: “Hello. It’s me . . . Allele”). No, that’s not right. Since most Americans are fluent in the chromosomal genetic science, we obviously know that an allele is (Googles frantically) a different version of a gene.
Somewhere along the way, we started naming our cats like people and our people like cats. “Meet my son, Plank, and my cat, Bruce.” Now we’re naming our apartment buildings like swanky hotels. Pretty soon hotels won’t even have names, just a picture of a buffalo that looks like a caveman drew it.
“It gives them a little panache,” said Mary Kelleher, a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby’s International in Boston. “You can say to me ‘150 Dorchester Avenue,’ and you’re like ‘Where the hell is that?’ ”
And because the marketing of high-end apartments and condos sometimes hinges on a little panache, the names race is on.
“We’ve named quite a number of projects,” said Javier Cortes, partner and creative director of KORN Design, a brand strategy and design firm in Boston. “The process involves a fair amount of research — we try to honor the place and its history.”
Remember the “Mad Men” episode where Don Draper sells a slide projector with a speech so thoughtful and impassioned that it sent an ad executive scurrying away in tears? It’s sort of like that, but for high-rises. Cortes and his team whittle down a list of maybe a hundred names to about a dozen that they bring to their clients.
“You want to make sure the name is memorable, applicable, not too hard to pronounce,” Cortes said, and then you have to scan for “egregious meanings in other cultures” — the classic (and largely apocryphal) Chevy Nova problem, in which Spanish-speaking countries allegedly declined to buy a car named “doesn’t go.”
KORN named the Liberty Hotel — it seems obvious now, but when it was an abandoned, rat-infested jail next to the hospital, it didn’t scream “luxury hotel” or “liberty.” Alloy, at Assembly Row in Somerville, was so named because it represents the “fusion” of Boston and Somerville, Cortes said, and echoes the area’s industrial history.
The Eddy, he said, emerged from historical research and calls on three different ideas. Eddy, most simply, sounds a little like Eastie, the neighborhood where the building sits on the water. Robert Henry Eddy, an architect and civil engineer, worked on various early maps of East Boston in the 19th century. And “eddy” describes circular movement in water running counter to the main current.
“If you’re deciding where you’re going to live in Boston, choosing to live in Eastie is a little counter current,” Cortes said. “Here’s a building that’s on the water and runs counter current.”
“It’s OK if you don’t know it on face value. It sounds cool and it works,” Cortes said. “We work hard to make sure there’s very deep meaning.”
But they can’t all be this deep. Right?
Lars Unhjem, vice president of development in Boston for Mill Creek Residential, said Modera Medford earned its name because “Modera” is Mill Creek’s flagship brand nationally (the Medford part is self explanatory).
“No meaning,” Unhjem said in an e-mail, “just a word someone made up.”
“Some of it, honestly?” Kelleher confided, “we pull this stuff out of you-know-where.”
This all started happening in earnest during an earlier building boom, said Colleen Barry, chief executive officer of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.
“The units were getting scooped up. We weren’t really worried, per se, about whether they were going to sell,” Barry said. “What we were starting to think about was how do you distinguish one from another? The idea was to brand these so they each kind of had a different feeling.”
“It was the very early stages of a slightly different way of thinking about development,” Barry said.
As it happens, Kelleher credits Barry with naming The Allele.
The Allele’s name, Kelleher said, grew from a discussion about the building’s concept: All the best elements of loft living (high ceilings, open floor plans) without the drawbacks (sleeping in what is essentially the far corner of the kitchen; commune-level privacy).
“I think ‘allele’ is a biological term — the fusion of two elements,” Kelleher said. “I’m probably simplifying it. Maybe even bastardizing it.”
But not according to one of the world’s leading geneticists. Dr. Stephen Elledge is the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He’s also a 2017 recipient of the Breakthrough Prize, which “recognizes paradigm-shifting discoveries in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics,” according to the Harvard Gazette. The board is a who’s who of tech billionaires, and the prize comes with $3 million.
In an e-mail that was surely a profound waste of his very valuable time, Dr. Elledge said collections of alleles account for differences between people — height, eye color, etc. Many of those differences aren’t inherently good or bad.
“I am ok with ‘Allele,’ ” Elledge wrote, emphasizing that the variation they’re referencing isn’t bad — just different. “In this case, I suspect they feel like their change is one for better.”
Advisors Living recently completed the sell out of 42 market-rate condominiums at the Mosaic on the Riverway. Closing prices averaged nearly $1,000 per square foot. Below is an excerpt from Curbed Boston’s coverage on the new development success:
In October 2015, sales at Mission Hill’s under-construction Mosaic on the Riverway residential complex got underway. Some 85 of the 10-story building’s 145 units were slated as condos, with 42 of them market-rate and the rest below-market-rate (the remaining 60 units are designated as affordable rentals).
All 85 Mosaic condos have traded and closings have started.
As of Oct. 5, 11 condos have closed at an average price of $928 per square foot, according to Bldup.com. That is a not-insignificant sum for the neighborhood, but not all that high by new-development standards in present-day Boston.
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) just approved a new 5-story condo building at 545 East Third Street in South Boston. Designed by Souza Architects, the building will include 18 condominiums, a 22-car ground-floor parking garage and on-site gym.
Rendering of 545 East Third Street in South Boston
The $8.5 million project, developed by South Boston’s Cedarwood Development, is situated on the corner of East Third and K Street. 545 East Third Street is conveniently located just one block from Stop & Shop and two blocks from an MBTA bus stop with direct access to Downtown Boston.
545 East Third Street is also located a few blocks from local Southie restaurants including Paramount (longtime winner of Boston Magazine‘s Best Brunch), Tasty Burger and Boston Beer Garden.
Looking to buy or rent in South Boston?Email us today and one of our neighborhood experts will help you find the perfect home.
545 East Third Street is ideally located in the heart of South Boston