What Does $700K Buy in South Boston?

The real estate sales market in South Boston is hot. In the last 6 months 306 properties have sold in South Boston, beating Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and South End. This could be due to a combination of facts:

According to MLS, over the last 6 months in South Boston, 2 single family homes and 9 condos have sold between $650-$750K. The average sold price per square foot was $260 for single family homes and $403 per square foot for condos.

52 P Street

This single family home listed for $679,000 could be converted into a two family home making it into an income generating property. At 2,880 square feet and with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 2 kitchens, this home sold in 8 days for $665,000.

52 P Street - Bode Well

52 P Street – Bode Well


106 G Street

This charming 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom is located in one of the most desired and famous locations in South Boston, Dorchester Heights. This renovated townhouse has 2,250 square feet of living space, was listed $649,000, had an accepted offer after being on the market for two weeks, and sold for $650,000.

106 G Street - Keller Williams

106 G Street – Keller Williams

 

404 E 3rd Street #2

Originally listed for $679K , this 2,478 square foot 3 level renovated condo has everything. With 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, parking, 3 decks, and a spacious open layout, it is no wonder it sold after 10 days on the market for $668,500.

404 E 3rd Street #2 - RE:MAX Realty Plus

404 E 3rd Street #2 – RE:MAX Realty Plus

 

392 W 2nd Street #392

Over on the West Side of Southie, this newly constructed condo has 2,000 square feet of living area with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a full 3 car garage underneath. Originally listed for $699,900, this condo sold for $670,000 after 136 days on the market.

392 W 2nd St #392 - Boston Realty Sales and Services

392 W 2nd St #392 – Boston Realty Sales and Services

 

Search here to see homes for sale in South Boston for $700,000. Or you can see what you can buy $500,000 in South Boston on a previous blog post.

If you are interested in discussing your search in more detail to find out if South Boston is the right neighborhood for you, contact the Realtors of the Matthew and Alisa Group.

Schedule a consultation with a Realtor

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What Does $2 Million Buy in Boston's South End?

When comparing some of the popular downtown neighborhoods of Boston, the data shows buyers get more for their money in the South End than they might in Back Bay or Beacon Hill. In the past 6 months, 12 condos and 9 single family homes were sold in the South End for the $2 million range. The average sale price per square foot for single family property was $619 with an average living area of 3318 square feet. The average sale price per square foot for a condo was $837 with an average living area of 2407 square feet. The difference being many of the condos are in new construction, full-service buildings.

43 Lawrence Street

Located on a quiet one way street that runs the 2 blocks between Dartmouth Street and Berkeley Street, this renovated single family home was originally listed for $1,795,000. With 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home sold in 17 days for $1,775,000.

43 Lawrence Street - Rondeau:Tierney Real Estate, LLC

43 Lawrence Street – Rondeau:Tierney Real Estate, LLC

 

7 Worcester Square

This single family home is a perfect example of why pricing your home to sell is crucial in getting it sold. This 5700 square foot Victorian townhouse featured 6 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, and 2 half bathrooms. This home was renovated from top to bottom with no detail unnoticed and sat on the market for 586 days. I don’t know all the details about why it sat for long, but according to the MLS data it was listed in January 2011 for $3.5 million. The first price reduction was in October 2011 to $2.779 million and eventually expired at the end of online casino December. Then came back on the market in January 2012 for $2.629 million and was reduced again to $2.575 million in February. This single family was then re-listed with another office at the end of September 2012 for $2.575 million and was sold in 17 days for $2.325 million.

This home could have sat on the market for many reasons and I don’t know the particulars but based on the data, price may have been a major issue.

7 Worcester Square - Sprogis & Neale Real Estate

7 Worcester Square – Sprogis & Neale Real Estate

 

1313 Washington Street #230

Wilkes Passage is a new construction, full service, luxury condo located on Washington Street. This 3 bedroom 2 bath 1892 square foot condo was tasteful, elegant, and spacious. Listed for $1,695,000 and sold for $1,775,000 in 3 days making it $938 per square foot, parking sold separate.

1313 Washington #230 - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

1313 Washington #230 – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

 

42 Union Park

Union Park is perhaps the most desired street in the South End, which mean properties on Union Park are priced and sold at a premium. This condo featured 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, high ceilings, original details, private patio, and parking. At 3,165 square foot, this parlor triplex was listed for $1,895,000 and sold for $1,842,500 in 9 days.

42 Union Park #1 - Keller Williams Realty International

42 Union Park #1 – Keller Williams Realty International

 

The South End offers living options for multiple lifestyles and at $2 million in the South End, a buyer can find something spectacular.

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What Can You Buy for $500,000 in South Boston?

South Boston had a bad reputation at one point. If you watched Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, or the forgettable (or unforgettable depending on your love of bad movies and Donnie Wahlburg) Southie, you may have an impression that South Boston has a reputation of being the wrong side of the tracks. It’s this stigma that has kept property values reasonable compared to other neighborhoods in Metro Boston. However, perception is changing and prices are climbing. The East Side, close to City Point, Thomas Park, and the beach, has been attracting young professionals and families in recent years. The West Side, close to Seaport, Broadway T station, and the South End, has been a little slower but with new development projects and popular restaurants opening, this are has also been undergoing change. The biggest factor that lets you know that the Southie of old has been transformed is the fact that Starbucks is opening on the corner of Dorchester Ave and West Broadway because you know Starbucks did not decide on this location before spending millions of dollars researching the area and its potential.

So what does your money get you in South Boston? Let’s start at $500,000.

Over the last 6 months, between $450,000 and $550,000 in South Boston has bought single family homes or new construction/renovated condos. According to MLS, 5 single family homes have sold at an average sale price of $504,680 and the average price per square foot was $312. However, in the same time-frame and price range, there were 74 condos sold at an average sale price of $498,281 or $380 per square foot.

And now for some properties!

East 4th Street

Located 2 blocks from the beach and listed at $519,000, this renovated 1,700 square foot 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom single family house sold over the list price in 21 days for $519,500.

860 East 4th - RE:MAX Realty Plus

860 East 4th – RE:MAX Realty Plus

 

East 7th Street

Located in the highly-desired East Side of South Boston, this single family home featured 1812 square feet of living space, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a beautifully patio. Listed at $524,900, this home sold above asking price in 8 days for $529,900.

691 East 7th St - RE:MAX Select Realty

691 East 7th St – RE:MAX Select Realty

 

West 7th Street

On the West Side of South Boston, this renovated penthouse condo featured 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and a private roof deck. At 1,244 square feet, this condo was listed for $499,000 and sold in 17 days for asking price.

163 West 7th Street - RE:MAX Realty Plus

163 West 7th St – RE:MAX Realty Plus

 

West 3rd Street

This renovated 1,218 square foot penthouse condo is located near the Seaport and the South End. This condo featured 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and private deck with incredible city views. Listed for $539,900, this condo sold in 6 days for $535,000.

159 West 3rd Street- Vogt Realty Group

159 West 3rd St – Vogt Realty Group

 

If you are interested in learning more about South Boston, check out our blog posts about the history of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and a Victorian mansion for sale.

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Should I Rent or Should I Buy Now?

The real estate market has been dynamic over the last few years to say the least. The dramatic highs and lows have left many wondering if they should rent an apartment or buy a home. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks and it is important to figure out what is the best option for you right now. Consider these arguments during your internal rent vs buy debate.

 

Should I Rent?

 

Renting is a great option for those that are still trying to figure out what their plan is. Many cities have wonderful neighborhoods with distinct flavors and personalities. Renting gives someone the option to try out different neighborhoods and find which is the best fit for his or her lifestyle. Buying is an investment synonymous with putting down roots and many people want to know their surroundings before choosing where to settle.

Renting offers short-term commitment. The most common lease contract is for a year-long commitment and there are also short-term leases that can be from 3 months to 6 months and Tenancy-at-Will contracts which are just month-to-month commitments.

The ability to test out an area with little commitment makes renting seem ideal until you realize renting also means you are throwing your money away. Renting does not build credit or equity. In fact, by paying your rent, you are paying someone else’s mortgage and building someone else’s equity and credit.

The tax breaks for renters are limited. In Massachusetts, renters can only deduct 50% of the rent they paid in a calendar year with the maximum deduction for rent being $3000. Meaning if your rent is more than $500, you are not going to see any difference.

Another drawback is rent is always going up! Especially in high demand cities with low vacancy rates. What you could spend to get a one bed in the suburbs could maybe get you a closet in the city. Then there are also the upfront costs.  Unless you are moving into a rental complex that only wants first month’s rent, most owners want at least first and last month’s rent. Some will ask for a security deposit and if you are using a broker you will need to pay for a fee. To rent an apartment, you need to have 2-4 months rent saved at lease signing. Then there is the expense of actually moving: the boxes, the moving truck, movers, etc.

After you have an apartment, the landlord can be an issue. With thousands of landlords and even more tenants, each with a unique personality, it’s not possible for every tenant to get along with every landlord. Some will be great and others not so great and there is no way to tell which one you are going to get until after you are already in your lease. In the worst case scenario, this can make for a very long year.

 

Rent vs Buy: Which Best Fits My Lifestyle?

 

Should I Buy?

 

Buying a home can be scary at first. With all the horror stories throughout the nation (foreclosures, short sales, underwater mortgages, money pits, the inability to sell, etc.), it is easy to think that renting is safer than buying. Buying can be scary because it brings responsibility and commitment. Basically, it means becoming a grown-up.

Fortunately there are more reasons to buy than there are not to!

Sales prices have fallen and mortgage rates are at an all time low. The combination makes housing affordability as low as we have seen in a decade and possibly as low as we will see for the next decade.

There are more tax deductions for homeowners than renters. Homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest, property taxes, and certain home improvements also qualify for deductions.

When you are paying for your own property, you are putting your money toward building your own equity and credit. You are paying off your own mortgage rather than seeing your money go to someone else’s pocket.

If you buy your property as a long term investment, it is like putting money into the bank. The more equity you build, the more you can borrow for future purchases, such as renovations  to your home or your child’s college tuition.

If it is the responsibility and commitment that is scary, then buy a condo. The size won’t be overwhelming. Plenty of condos are located in professionally-managed buildings or buildings that have property managers to handle repairs and maintenance. In a few years, if you decide to move onto something bigger, you can sell the property but you could also rent it out and have someone else pay the mortgage and build your equity.

To learn more about buying or renting property, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

Schedule a consultation with a Realtor

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Assessed Value vs Market Value

“Why is the assessed value vs market value so far off for this property?”

Many buyers have asked this question thinking a ratio of assessed value offers a shortcut to a property’s fair market value. While I use and can suggest many factors and figures to determine a property’s fair market value, I do not ever look at the assessed value when pricing a property. In fact, the only time I consider a property’s assessed value is when I want to provide buyers with the figure they will pay for property taxes.

The fair market value is the price agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances (not under duress). The fair market value is the highest estimated price in terms of money which the property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a buyer who is purchasing with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best suited and for which it can be legally used.

Market Value vs Assessed ValueIn contrast, the assessed value is the dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for the purposes of measuring applicable taxes. Some states require assessed value to be a percentage of the real market value, but most do not. In Massachusetts, Town Assessors are required to submit assessed values to the State Department of Revenue for certification every three years. Assessors review the real estate sales market data every year and therefore reassess values each year. Many states do not allow the assessment value to be increased unless the home is sold or improvements are done to the home (called Proposition 13 protection in California). If market value falls below assessed value, the home owner may petition the tax collector for an abatement.

Since fair market value and assessed value differ in purpose and in how they are determined, an analysis of assessed value vs market value does not provide a consistent ratio from which to judge the merits of one metric or the other. After charting the two values looking for a correlation, the results show assessed values are all over the place in relation to a property’s fair market value.

I suggest using better methods of gauging a listing price’s merit in the current market. A comparable market analysis (CMA) is the best method for determining probable price of a property, but even price per square foot or the ratio of sale price to list price can be used as quick metrics of a list price’s validity in today’s market. Our Realtors are available to provide you with a CMA if you are considering buying property or thinking about listing your home for sale.

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The Mason House: Back Bay’s Latest Historic Mansion for Sale

The Mason Home: Million-Dollar Historic MansionNot too long ago I wrote about the Ames Webster Mansion at 306 Dartmouth St in Boston’s Back Bay, the incredible historic mansion that has been on the sales market for just shy of 800 days. At the time I wrote about the Ames Webster Mansion, there was no comparable property in Boston proper. This has now changed as The Mason House has come onto the sales market.

I recently had the privilege of touring The Mason House at 211 Commonwealth Ave and I feel it was a privilege. The Mason House is a single-family mansion built in 1883 by Rotch & Tilden architects in the Colonial Revival style for William Powell Mason. Situated across from the Commonwealth Mall between Exeter St and Fairfield St, every aspect of this home was designed with meticulous attention. The facade of the building is a seemingly simple brick exterior, but once inside, the grandeur within is revealed to the fortunate few to walk through the entrance. The moment you open the immense door and are welcomed into the incredible foyer, you do feel like one of the fortunate few.

The Mason Home's Formal Salon at 211 Comm AveThe basics of this brick mansion are as follows: 5 floors, 11 bedroom, 9 bathrooms, 14 fireplaces, private terrace, enclosed garden, elevator, au-pair suite, two wet bars, butler’s kitchen, and a heated garage that fits up to 5 cars. All of these features found in one Back Bay home is unique, but what truly sets this home apart from other multi-million dollar mansions are the exquisite details. For example, the beautifully patterned moldings along the crown, walls, and fireplace in the formal salon gives an air of delicacy and refinement. The formal dining room with coffered ceiling and restored mahogany paneling exudes formality and regality.

The Mason Home features an incredible music roomThe piece de resistance has to be the music room added in 1897. I believe the music room is reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy with a stained-glassed skylight set into the coffered half-dome ceiling at the room’s entrance. The dome in the center of the room is believed to be the first architectural element in Boston designed specifically for electric lights, which were used to illuminate the stucco ceiling details. The music room was added by Fanny Mason, the daughter of the William Powell Mason, who founded the Boston Symphony and the Peabody-Mason Music Foundation. In this room, Fanny Mason hosted many musical performances by renowned artists of the time.

The Mason House seems immense and overwhelming as a whole, but each room achieves an intimacy that can make you feel comfortably at home. This trophy property is available for the asking price of $17,900,000 and since the previous owners have renovated many of the rooms (including the kitchen) for our modern times, very few renovations would be needed for the new owners to call it home.

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Boston’s Historic Mansion Nobody Wants…

Various Highlights of Ames-Webster Mansion in Back Bay

Boston is filled with historic real estate. Originally built to house the elite, many properties in Boston have been converted into luxury condos, commercial spaces, or museums. There are a few, however, that retain their original glory as single-family mansions. One in particular is the Ames-Webster Mansion in Boston’s Back Bay.

The Ames-Webster Mansion is located at 306 Dartmouth Street, situated on the corner of Dartmouth Street and Commonwealth Avenue at the heart of Back Bay. A 26,000 square foot brick mansion such as the Ames-Webster is not common in Boston real estate and to be honest nothing about this multi-million dollar mansion is common.The Ames-Webster Mansion holds 50 rooms, 28 fireplaces, and 6 parking spaces.

The original building at 306 Dartmouth Street was designed and built by renowned architectural firm Peabody and Stearns in 1872. John Sturgis, who also designed the original Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is credited with the redesign and enlargement of the property in 1882 to a single family home for Frederick Ames, who was, in his time, called “the hub’s richest man” by the Boston Globe. The home has had few owners since which means few renovations and the survival of the original ornate detail intact throughout the home, such as the stained glass skylight designed by John La Farge and the murals Benjamin Constant painted around the skylight.

This historic mansion is a true example of a trophy property. It has everything: location, size, prestigious pedigree, and it’s zoned for commercial use as well as residential. Yet it has been for sale for over 700 days and was originally priced for $23 million with the price dropping to $18 million last November.

With the economy the way it is, not too many people have $18 million on hand, but there are properties in the United States of this magnitude (and greater) that have sold over the last year. How has this one stayed on the market? Many theories could answer this question, but I like to believe it is haunted, a detail the owners would have to disclose* to potential buyers. I’m not saying it is haunted, but if it were, that could be scaring away potential buyers.

Boston Historic Ames Webster Mansion at 306 Dartmouth Street in Boston's Back Bay

*Fun Fact: The only instance of the term “paranormal activity” in Massachusetts Law is in relation to stigmatized property.

Update: It turns out someone wanted the Ames-Webster mansion after all. The property sold on March 15, 2013 for $14,500,000.

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