What is Dual Agency?

Whether you are looking to buy property or looking to sell your property, if you are working with a Realtor, one of the first things you will learn about is agency and the different types of agency. During your first meeting with a Realtor, you will have to sign a Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form stating in what capacity the Realtor is speaking about property. The agent will disclose if she is speaking to you as either a seller’s agent or buyer’s agent. Whether working as the buyer’s agent or seller’s agent, Realtors owe buyers and sellers undivided loyalty, reasonable care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality, and accountability provided the agent disclose known material defects in the real estate. The Realtor must put her client’s interests first and negotiate for the best terms and price for their client.

As all Realtors know, you cannot thrive in this business only being a seller’s agent or a buyer’s agent, so most Realtors work as either or at any time (depending on local laws and office policy). It gets interesting when a Realtor is both at the same time for the same deal. This is called acting in dual agency.

Dueling Agents

Dueling Agents…Get it?

Dual agency is when the Realtor is both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. This can only happen with expressed and written consent from both the buyer and the seller. This written consent has to be given by both parties before executing an offer to purchase a specific property. Once both parties agree to allow the Realtor to represent them, the Realtor enters dual agency and becomes a neutral party. At this point, think of your Realtor as Switzerland! The Realtor can pass along factual information between buyer and seller but cannot interpret the information for either party. Nor can the Realtor offer analysis or advice to either the buyer or the seller. For example, the Realtor can give a comparative market analysis (CMA) or comps for the property to the buyer that were previously provided to the seller when determining a listing price, but she cannot analyze it with the buyer nor can she advise what price the buyer should offer. However, if new properties show up in the comps given to the buyer, the Realtor has to provide the same updated information to the seller.

By nature, a dual agent cannot fulfill the same duties of a seller’s agent or buyer’s agent. A Realtor in dual agency still owes both the buyer and seller confidentiality of material information and accounting for funds. However, while in dual agency the Realtor cannot negotiate the best terms or price for either party.

For seasoned and educated buyers and sellers, working in dual agency can be a good thing, since they only need to communicate with one Realtor, thus cutting down on delays caused by passing information back and forth between parties. However, for first time home buyers who are nervous and do not fully understand the buying process, this is not ideal. No one is ever taken advantage of, but with the experience of making such a major purchase, having a Realtor exclusively in your corner, helping you understand the market, and getting you the terms you want can be a relief to the emotional stress that comes with buying your first home. That being said, if you are working with a Realtor you trust and they have the property you have been looking for, you have no reason not to go for it.

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What Can You Buy for $1 Million in Beacon Hill?

One of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Boston is Beacon Hill and the property there can be some of the most sought after in the city. Matthew Gaskill wrote about the Mt Vernon Proprietors and how they shaped Beacon Hill into the neighborhood as we still know it today. Properties in Beacon Hill tend to have a smaller footprint, making living area more vertical and narrow. Properties in Beacon Hill also have strict guidelines to follow when doing renovations, restrictions that sometimes prevent the owners from making improvements to the property.

Let’s break down the data!

Over the last 6 months there have been 26 condos and 2 single-family homes sold in Beacon Hill between $800,000 and $1,200,000. The average sale price for the condos was $972,156 while the average sale price per square foot was $695. If you remember from when I wrote about what $1 million buys you in Back Bay, the average sale price for condos was $953,039 and the average sale price per square foot was $758. The reason for the difference in price per square foot is parking! Getting a condo that comes with parking in Beacon Hill is like finding a unicorn wearing a four-leafed clover garland with a golden ticket to Wonka-Land in it’s mouth. Maybe not THAT unlikely but not too far off.

Mount Vernon Street

Originally built in 1804, this 2 bed 2.5 bath duplex on Mount Vernon Street was listed at $899,00o and sold in just over a month for $875,000. This 1625 square foot condo featured 2 fireplaces, a private patio, and is located just behind the state house on the top of the hill. However, the property does not have central air conditioning, so in the balmy summers window units will have to suffice.

Sold Condo on Mt Vernon Street

51 Mount Vernon Street – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

 

Chestnut Street

Since Boston is a old town with historic properties, many buildings have been converted from their original intended use. In the South End, warehouses have turned into large open lofts. In both Back Bay and Beacon Hill, single family mansions have been broken into condos. This particular 2 bed 2 bath on Chestnut Street was once a Gothic church built in 1880. Converted to condos in 1965, this 1220 square foot was listed at $950,000 and sold for $920,000 in under one month.

Sold Condo on Chestnut Street

27 Chestnut St – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

 

Revere Street

This sunny penthouse duplex on Revere Street featured 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 2 fireplaces. Originally built in 1900, this 1500 square foot corner condo has 3 exposures and a roof deck with gorgeous views from Back Bay to Cambridge. It was listed at $1,199,000 and sold for $1,190,000 in 13 days.

Sold Condo on Revere Street

93 Revere Street – Hammond Residential

 

Beacon Street

Located across from the Boston Common, this Beacon Street penthouse condo featured 2 private decks, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1 fireplace. Originally built in 1860, this 1750 square foot condo also had an elevator with direct access to the unit and vaulted ceilings. It first came onto the sales market for $1,250,000 and sold in 7 days for $1,200,000.

Sold Condo on Beacon Street

36 Beacon Street – CL Waterfront Properties

To learn more about Beacon Hill and other Boston neighborhoods, visit our where to live page.

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What Can You Buy for $1 Million in the South End?

Last time I wrote about what can you buy for $1 million in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. This time I will show you what you can buy for $1 million in the South End.

According to the MLS data, over the last 6 months there have been 60 condos and 1 single family home sold in the South End. You get a little more for your money in Boston’s South End compared to Back Bay. The average sale price for South End condos were $952,378 and the average price per square foot was $647.

What I love about the South End is that it is a real neighborhood. People enjoy wine or coffee (depending on the time of day) on their stoop with their neighbors. Residents stop to say hi to one another while they are out walking their dogs or babies. Wonderful restaurants on nearly every street serve every type of meal a person could want from top-grade sushi and french cuisine to classic hamburgers and bar snacks. Even though it seems the South End consists of nothing but beautiful brownstones, modern construction can also be found if you know where to look.

Appleton Street

This penthouse duplex is on one of the most desired streets in the South End, and it is no surprise it went on and off the market in the blink of an eye. Listed at $750,000, this 2 bed 1.5 bath 1,010 sq ft condo sold for $830,000 all cash in 20 days but had an accepted offer after 4 days. This was one of two condos in this brownstone and featured a roof deck with beautiful views of Boston’s skyline, an open layout perfect for entertaining, and a private entrance.

Sold South End Condo at 17 Appleton Street

17 Appleton Street – Meridian Realty Group

 

Harrison Avenue

The South End offers condos converted from unique places. This 2 bed 2 bath 1723 sq ft corner loft was converted from a warehouse. The unit offered incredibly high ceiling and enormous windows displaying the Boston skyline from the 4th floor. It is in a professionally-managed elevator building just a few blocks from the SOWA open market and the dog run in Peter’s Park. This loft-like condo sold for asking at $959,000 in 21 days.

485-495 Harrison Avenue – Ballast Realty Group

 

Union Park Street

Not only can you find converted warehouses in the South End, but also a bank converted to condos. The former Penny Savings Bank on the corner of Union Park Street and Washington Street now offers renovated contemporary condos. This 1 bed plus office offered a private terrace, renovated kitchen with open layout, floor-to-ceiling windows, garage parking, and a common roof deck. Asking $879,000, this condo sold in 13 days for $856,000.

Sold Condo at 30 Union Park Street

30 Union Park Street – Keller Williams Realty International

 

Greenwich Park

For modern living in a classic brownstone, this penthouse duplex offer the best of both worlds. This 1621 sq ft  listing offered 2 spacious bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a working fireplace, and a private roof deck. Situated along the Southwest Corridor, you are steps from the best of Back Bay and the South End. Listed at $1,225,000, this listing sold for $1,200,000 in 16 days.

Sold Condo at 22 Greenwich Park

22 Greenwich Park – South End Realty Group

 

Search condos in the South End between $800,000 and $1,200,000. To see condos in the South End in person, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Sotheby’s International Realty: Our Journey to Extraordinary

We at Sotheby’s International Realty are in continuous evolution to maintain our high standard of white glove service to our clientele all over the world. With society in constant motion not only are we on the pulse with what is current, we strive to stay ahead of the curve. This recently created video explores how much our world has changed and how our company thrives on meeting those challenges.

How Sotheby’s International Realty has grown

In 1976, the Sotheby’s auction house began Sotheby’s International Realty and, in 2004, entered a strategic alliance with Realogy.

In February of 2004, there were 15 company-owned offices. Today we have more than 12,000 real estate agents working out of nearly 650 office in 45 countries and territories.

In 2005, our company completed 19,000 transactions totaling $19 billion in sales. In 2009, we had grown to nearly 34,000 transactions totaling $22 billion. Today, Sotheby’s International Realty handles over 59,000 transactions representing $41 billion.

Sotheby’s International Realty: continuously expanding our reach

When a listing is featured as a cover property on sothebysrealty.com it gets 30% more views. We have also developed lifestyle micro sites for buyers looking for property falling under one of the following lifestyles: Waterfront, Golf, Vineyards & Wineries, Skiing, and Farm & Ranch. There are 60 billion dollars in property value on sothebysrealty.com representing 30,000 listings with 38% of them outside the United States.

Of the 2.1 billion internet users, 72% don’t search in English. On sothebysrealty.com, users can search in over 16 diverse languages.

China will soon become the largest English speaking country in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty already has a network hub in Hong Kong and we continue to expand our presence within Asia.

On the pulse of where and how our clientele search for property

13.9 million mobile subscribers access real estate information via mobile and this year more internet searches will happen via mobile versus a computer. Because of this shift toward mobile search, we created a cascading platform of 60 interconnected mobile-friendly websites and developed GPS-enabled apps for smartphones.

1 in every 8 people on earth are on Facebook. 3 years ago twitter didn’t exist now there are 175 million tweets per day. 200 billion videos are watched around the world per month. We maintain a strong and  active presence on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and other social networks on both a corporate and local level.

What is the end result of our marketing efforts? 506 million media impressions delivered. Leveraging the world’s most influential partners including BBC, Google, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times, Luxury Properties,  International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg Markets, Country Life, The Robb Report, Sotheby’s At Auction, etc.

Contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate to see discuss how Sotheby’s International Realty can benefit you.

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What Can You Buy for $1 Million in Back Bay?

News outlets have been promoting how the housing crisis is in recovery and that the low mortgage rates make now a great time to buy! This may be true but what do you get for your money in today’s sales market in Boston?

Depending on the type of lifestyle you want, one of the downtown neighborhood in Boston can accommodate. This blog will focus on the Back Bay neighborhood and Back Bay condos.

What does $1 million buy you in Back Bay?

If we go by the data, $1 million can get a beautiful condo in Back Bay. I did a search of sold listings between $800,000 and $1.2 million in Back Bay. Over the last 6 months there have be 56 sold condos in Back Bay with an average sale price of $953,039 and the average price per square foot is $758.

One of the best things about buying a condo in Back Bay is that you don’t have to choose between lifestyle and location. Whether you want a luxury high rise or a historic brownstone, there are available condos in Back Bay.

Marlborough St

Penthouse living on Sunny Marlborough Street, this 1050 square foot 2 bed 2 bath renovated condo with parking and roof rights sold at the beginning of summer for the asking price of $999,000 after being listed for only 1 day. This condo in Back Bay offered high ceilings, an open layout, and top of the line kitchen with Viking Stove and granite countertops. The fireplace warms this condo into a home on the quietest residential street in Back Bay.

Condo in Back Bay on 299 Marlborough Street

299 Marlborough Street – Thread Real Estate

 

Commonwealth Ave

Located on one of the most historic streets in Boston, this 1300 square foot 2bed 1.5bath renovated condo in a brownstone with parking sold this summer for $1,000,000. Built in 1890, this sunny third floor condo offered high ceilings with classic crown molding, a bay window, and 2 fireplaces. Renovated to modern tastes, this condo in Back Bay also has central air conditioning, a chef’s kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and laundry in unit. This condo sold in 6 days!

Condo in Back Bay on 286 Commonwealth Avenue

286 Commonwealth Avenue – Warren Residential Group, LLC

 

Beacon St

Just a block from the Charles River, this 1797 square foot 2 bed 2.5 bath renovated duplex with parking and private patio sold for $1,080,000. This condo has a everything to call it home. From the classic features of hardwood floors, bay windows, 2 fireplaces to modern conveniences of laundry in-unit, central heating and air conditioning, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and walk-in closets. This condo in Back Bay was sold in just over 2 weeks for 98% of asking price.

Condo in Back Bay on 369 Beacon Street

369 Beacon Street – Realty Development Services

 

Newbury St

If you are not interested in a traditional brownstone, Back Bay also offers incredible options for modern luxury living. On Newbury Street, this 1330 square foot 2 bed 2 bath corner unit with garage parking and a concierge sold this spring for $1,130,000. Enjoy the 6th floor views of Back Bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows and want for nothing with Back Bay at your fingertips.

Condo in Back Bay on 360 Newbury Street

360 Newbury Street – Otis & Ahearn

 

Search condos in Back Bay for $800,000 to $1,200,000. To see Back Bay condos in person, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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How Real Estate Developers Shaped Beacon Hill and America

The Mt. Vernon Proprietors developed Boston’s Beacon Hill into the neighborhood we know today and in the process they shaped the way real estate development would function during the formative years of the United States as a nation. Although we can see their legacy in the development of Beacon hill, their contributions to real estate development in the United States is even greater. As what was probably the first real estate syndicate in America, their model shaped the way America was built.

A real estate syndicate is a group of investors pooling money and using the funds as a whole to fund real estate projects. The funds could be used to acquire property in its entirety or as an equity contribution to the project along with a mortgage, which would fund some portion of the project.

The Mt. Vernon Proprietors were founded in 1795 by Harrison Gray Otis, Jonathan Mason, Charles Ward Apthorp, and Joseph Woodward. Members of the group changed frequently, but partners included the famed architect Charles Bulfinch, Hepzibah Swan, William Scollay, Dr. Benjamin Joy, and Henry Jackson. In the same year they founded, the Mt. Vernon Proprietors bought an 18.5 acre cow pasture from an agent working on behalf of the painter John Singleton Copley, who had been living in England for the previous 20 years. When it took place, it was the largest land transaction that had taken place in Boston and included the land bordered today by Mt Vernon Street, Louisburg Square, down Pinckney Street to the Charles River, along the shoreline to Beacon Street, and up Beacon Street to Walnut Street, which connects with Mt. Vernon Street. This was such a large plot of land that it would be 30 years before Louisburg Square and the land west of it was laid out.

Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill in BostonThe majority of the tract was hilly pasture, not valuable until the Massachusetts State House was built at the top of Beacon Hill in 1798. The plot of land where the State House was to be built was bought from the heirs of John Hancock, the first Governor of Massachusetts and the man with the world’s most famous signature.

Harrison Gray Otis had been appointed to a town committee to select the new site of the Massachusetts State House and a scandal ensued when it was discovered he was involved in the purchase of the newly valuable land. John Singleton Copley protested the sale, but after a decade of legal arguments the sale was upheld.

The Mt. Vernon Proprietors planned to use their land as a new residential area for those whose fortunes had grown due to Boston’s merchant trade. The group’s surveyor, Mather Withington, and Charles Bulfinch created separate development plans, but both proposed large lots ranging from 60 by 160 to 100 by 200. Bulfinch’s plan focused on freestanding mansions with lots large enough for stables and gardens, as was common practice in the South End and West End at the time, and a few homes were built following Bulfinch’s specifications. Withington’s development plan was eventually chosen, a plan which proposed the laying of Mt. Vernon Street, Chestnut Street, Pinckney Street, and Walnut Street as they are today.

The work of laying the streets began in 1799, with the streets aligned in an east-west orientation with limited access from the less desirable North Slope, which was referred to as “Mt. Whoredom” at the time. During this early stage of development, Mount Vernon, the Western peak of Boston’s three hills cut by 50-60 feet. The country’s first gravity railroad was used to transport the dirt downhill and into the water, increasing the developer’s land by filling in the area now occupied by Charles Street and part of the Flat of the Hill.

Beacon Hill map as planned by the Mt. Vernon ProprietorsThe early homes built on the Mt. Vernon Proprietor land were of great dimensions, following the vision of Charles Bulfinch. Harrison Gray Otis commissioned Bulfinch to build a home at 85 Mt. Vernon Street. Bulfinch bought the parcel west of Otis in 1805 and divided it into the two lots at 87 and 89 Mt. Vernon Street on which he built large freestanding mansions with a shared driveway.

Along with these homes, the Massachusetts State House at the top of Beacon Hill was also designed by Charles Bulfinch. At the time architecture was more of a hobby than an occupation and Bulfinch was employed as a member of the city’s Board of Selectman and Boston’s Chief of Police. Although, Bulfinch would go on to become the first American to practice architecture as an occupation and he would design many more buildings around Boston before heading to Washington D.C. to work on the Capitol.

After the initial estate sized lots were sold and developed on Mt. Vernon Street, the Mt. Vernon Proprietors decided these homes were not in the best interest of their investment. Because of this the rest of the land was laid out in more dense blocks of row houses and even the gardens of the original estates were developed, thus the mansions at 89, 87, and 85 Mt. Vernon Street appear to be incorporated within a developed block.

Among the houses associated with the Mt. Vernon Proprietors surviving today are:

  • 29A Chestnut Street, built on a speculative basis in 1799
  • 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, and 74 Beacon Street were built in on a speculative basis in 1828 after being designed by architect Asher Benjamin.

Other homes in the Beacon Hill neighborhood are associated with individual members, but these represent efforts of the group.

For more information on property for sale in Beacon Hill or to own your own piece of history, contact a Realtor from our team.

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The Real Estate Sales Market's Paradox of Choice

I recently watched an episode of TED Talks featuring psychologist Barry Schwartz discussing the Paradox of Choice (also the name of his book). According to Barry Schwartz, the American mantra of more choices equaling more freedom, which in turn results in more welfare is not only wrong, it is harmful. Too many choices affect a person”s ability to choose by causing decision paralysis, unable to make any choice at all. If the person does make a choice, she often becomes dissatisfied with the choice made, because, she believes a least one perfect option will be present among the multitude of options. If the one chosen turns out to fall short of perfection, buyer”s remorse can set in and the blame often falls on her own ability to make a correct decision. A fear of this buyer”s remorse can also prevent a person from taking action at all because we are aware of our heightened expectations resulting from living in a time of limitless choice.

http://youtu.be/VO6XEQIsCoM

After watching Barry Schwartz’s lecture I started thinking how it relates to the online casino current Boston real estate sales market. I hear complaints from buyers and fellow real estate agents regarding the low inventory and how new listings to the real estate sales market are selling within days of being listed. When the sales market was saturated with inventory, property sat and sat. It’s hard not to make the connection between buyers having fewer options and their increased ability to make a decision.

According to MLS data, from March 15th-April 15th of this year (2012) 289 single family homes and condos were listed for sale in the downtown Boston neighborhoods, 225 properties went under-agreement, and they averaged 31 days on the real estate sales market. The same time period last year (2011) there were 377 single family home and condos listed for sale in the downtown Boston neighborhoods, 184 went under-agreement, and spent an average of 120 days on the sales market.

Barry Schwartz said “the secret to happiness is low expectations.” It is because when expectations are low, the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised is present! Many agents and sellers feel the current real estate sales market is a pleasant and welcome change after the mortgage crisis a few years ago. And buyers, knowing there are few options, are less likely to talk themselves out making a decision on their new home. The result is less stagnation in the market, which is good news for both buyers and sellers of property.

If you are interested in searching property for sale or speaking with a Realtor, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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A Brief History of Fenway Park on its 100th Anniversary

One hundred years ago tomorrow, the Red Sox, Boston’s most beloved sports franchise, moved into its current home. Over the span of the past century, Fenway Park has served as an entertainment center for the people of Boston. The park is referred to by many as a “cathedral of baseball” is the oldest stadium in use by a Major League Baseball club and is considered one of the most well-known sports venues in the world. The Red Sox are hosting a free open house at Fenway Park today from 9am-7pm with fans having access to the warning track, the inside of the Green Monster, and other areas inside the park not normally available to fans. Current and past Red Sox players will be on hand for autographs as fans are allowed to tour the historic building at their own pace. The following history of Fenway Park is a brief primer to get you ready for today’s Fenway Park open house.

100th Anniversary of Fenway ParkAnd do not forget Friday’s 100th Anniversary game against the New York Yankees has a 3pm start time with a nod to the time games started before the days of stadium lights and night games. The pre-game ceremony will feature 1912 throwback jerseys, over 200 past players, and a stadium-wide toast that will attempt to break the record for largest ever toast. The Red Sox ask for everyone to be in their seats by 2pm to take part in the toast.

Opening Day at Fenway Park

Fenway Park hosted its first game on April 9th, 1912, an exhibition between the Red Sox and Harvard, a game won by the professionals. The regular season opener was scheduled for April 17th, but the game was rained out. Three more games, including the traditional morning and afternoon game doubleheader held to concur with the Boston marathon, were also cancelled. After the rain subsided, at least one of these games could have been played, but fans were turned away amid sunshine and clear skies because the field was declared unplayable, left uncovered during the storm because a new tarp had yet to arrive.

After the delays to Opening Day, Fenway Park hosted its first Major League contest on April 20th, 1912. Navin Field in Detroit, which was later known as Tiger Stadium, also debuted on the same day, and the two ballparks shared the distinction of the oldest stadium in MLB until Tiger Stadium was demolished in 2009. This leaves Fenway Park as one of only two “classic” ballparks in use, the other being Wrigley Park in Chicago.

Fenway Park grass painted to commemorate 100 year anniversaryWith ongoing coverage of the Titanic disaster, the enthusiasm for Boston’s new stadium was somewhat dampened in the days leading up to its opening. Two days after the Titanic survivors arrived in New York, Bostonians showed up in force for Fenway Park’s official opening. John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston and grandfather of future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, threw out the first pitch, as he would also do at one of the World Series games held in Boston in the fall of 1912.

The 24,000 fans in attendance for Opening Day went home happy as the club defeated their rival New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees the following year) 7-6 on an 11th inning single by Tris Speaker. Among those in attendance were the Royal Rooters, considered the rowdiest fans in baseball. The club was led by a man named “Nuf Ced” McGreevey, who has the distinction of tending America’s first sports bar, The Third Base Saloon. This establishment where “you went before heading home” was a museum of Red Sox memorabilia McGreevey obtained from his friends on the Red Sox roster.

Although praised for its intimacy today, fans in 1912 were not used to seats as far from the action as those found in the right field of Fenway Park. Despite this criticism, overall reception at the time was positive. Fenway Park solidified its place in Boston that first season when the Red Sox won 105 games and captured the World Series. By winning three more championships in the next six years, this dynasty further ingrained Fenway Park into the city’s identity.

The Real Estate Behind Fenway Park

The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the smaller Huntington Avenue Grounds, which sat on what is now the site of an indoor athletic facility on the Northeastern University campus. As with most real estate transactions, money played a role. The Huntington Avenue Grounds had hosted approximately 10,000 fans for its largest crowd ever even though the official capacity was much less. Along with Fenway Park’s additional seating and the increased revenue from more fans, a new park in an attractive area would increase the club’s value, an important consideration since owner John Taylor was entertaining thoughts of selling the Red Sox.

Yawkey Way, home to the Red Sox, Boston's American League Baseball ClubIn early 1911, Taylor’s family, which earned their fortune through real estate, was involved with several real estate entrepreneurs in forming a committee focused on developing the emerging Fenway neighborhood. Two weeks after the forming of The Fenway Improvement Association, Taylor’s father bought the future site of Fenway Park at public auction. The Fens were largely undeveloped at the time, but the location was only a few blocks from growing Kenmore Square and the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, major thoroughfares at the beginning of the twentieth century much as they are today. After the site was secured, Taylor decided to relocate and not to renew his lease for the Huntington Avenue Grounds. With plans to develop a new ballpark underway, Taylor sold half the club with the contract naming him the overseer of construction and landlord of the new ballpark. John Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from the stadium’s location in the Fenway neighborhood, however, considering Taylor’s family owned Fenway Realty Co. the ballpark’s name could be the first example of stadium-naming rights in North America.

Design and Construction of Fenway Park

In the preceding years, the MFA, the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum, and Symphony Hall were all built roughly a mile from the site that would become Fenway Park. While those buildings were built by the city’s Irish working class, they were intended for the enjoyment of the Brahmins and the other members of Boston’s elite class. Fenway Park, by contrast, would be built for the people of Boston.

Fenway park plaque commemorating construction in 1912 and remodeling in 1934Fires had destroyed a number of wooden ballparks in the previous two decades including the double-decked South End Grounds, home of Boston’s National League club. One result a the fires was a move toward steel and concrete stadiums, a new wave which began in 1909 and included stadiums such as Ebbets Field, Comisky Park, and Wrigley Field.

For Boston’s first steel and concrete ballpark, Taylor hired James McLaughlin as chief architect and the civil engineering was done by Osborn Engineering, a large firm based in Cleveland. Osborn Engineering was a major player in the stadium boom of the early twentieth century, designing Navin Field simultaneously, a few years later involved in the construction of Braves Field, Boston’s other modern major league ballpark, and then designing Yankee Stadium in the early 1920’s.

Ground was broken on September 25th,1911, the day permits were granted for construction of Fenway Park. The total cost of the project would be $650,000 which at $15.7 million in 2012 dollars is an amazing real estate value, especially when you consider the current ownership group spent $285 million on renovations over the last ten years.

Fenway Park was built on the lot John Taylor’s father had purchased at auction, an irregular-shaped parcel of 365,308 square feet. The field could have been built in a more symmetrical shape by only using part of the parcel, but Taylor instructed the architect to use the entire lot. The result was a field much larger than required by the game as it was played at the time, an era known as the Dead Ball Era. Prior to the 1920’s, the preferred style of play consisted of line drives and hit-and-run plays. In fact, the year prior to Fenway park’s opening saw Frank Baker lead the American League with 11 home runs and entire clubs hit less than 20 home runs over the course of the year.

Survey of Fenway Park lot in 1917

Because no one hit the ball that far, it was not an issue for the left-field fence to be placed against Landsdowne Street, only 300ft from home plate. The architect was instructed to maintain the alignment of the Huntington Avenue Grounds with the 3rd base line pointing almost due north, which kept the sun from batters’ eyes during games that began at 3pm, the standard start time of games in the era. If distance had been a concern, Landsdowne Street could have been acquired and incorporated into the design. By 1958, this was not the case as owner Tom Yawkey tried unsuccessfully to annex Landsdowne Street for expansion and renovation of Fenway Park.

Along Landsdowne Street, a wall was built that would be the precursor of the Green Monster, Fenway Park’s signature feature. The wall was 25ft high, a wooden wall plastered with ads and was built for a couple of reasons. The parcel of land the park was built on was sloped and after being graded, the field was lower than the surrounding streets. The wall served to both hold back Landsdowne Street and kept nonpaying fans from watching the game for free.

1918 version of Monster Seats were in the field of play on Duffy's CliffA slope of dirt on the field side of the wall was used to further support the wall. This slope became known as Duffy’s Cliff after star Red Sox left-fielder Duffy Lewis, who became adept at playing the unusual feature. Although technically in play, many fans watched the game seated in the field of play on the 10ft embankment because it provided a good view of the action. To maximize seating for the 1912 World Series games bleachers seating a thousand fans were built on the embankment. Duffy was spared from navigating the crowd since any hits into the fans were ruled a ground-rule double.

The wall has seen a number of changes over the years before becoming the Green Monster we know today.

  • In 1934, a manual scoreboard was added and the wall was covered in concrete and tin.
  • In 1947, the ads were removed from the wall and it was painted green to match the rest of the park.
  • In 1976, the wall was covered in a hard plastic.
  • In 2003, seats were added to the top of the wall. These seats, known as “monster seats,” are among the most popular in all of Fenway Park and are sold on a per game basis to winners of a lottery instead of in season-ticket packages. In 2012, over 300,000 people applied for the roughly 30,000 seats available over the course of the season.

The wall at Fenway Park known as the Green MonsterBefore the seats were added to the top of the Green Monster, a net on top of the wall caught balls, protecting cars on the street below. Groundskeepers would climb a ladder built onto the wall to empty the net, and the “ladder to nowhere” remained attached to the wall. The “ladder to nowhere” is another quirk of Fenway Park, but it is an urban legend that the ladder is the only ground-rule triple in major league baseball.

The original plan for Fenway Park was for a double-deck park like Navin Field and the South End Grounds to allow for more fans and the revenue that would come with them. The plans for a second deck were put hold with the home opener only six months away. The final design used for construction called for a single uncovered grandstand surrounding the infield and bleachers in right field, but the plans left open the possibility for a second deck to be built in the future. However, not until an auxiliary press box was added for the 1946 All-star Game did Boston have its first double-decker ballpark since the South End Grounds were closed in 1914. Without the second deck, Fenway Park’s seating capacity was around 29,000, which was less than most other ballparks built around the same time, but Fenway Park was nearly three times the official capacity of Huntington Avenue Grounds.

After 84,000sf of grass was removed from the Huntington Avenue Grounds and transplanted in Fenway Park, baseball was ready to be played behind the new park’s depression-style red brick facade. The Kenmore Square area features buildings of similar architecture and height, allowing Fenway Park to blend in to its surroundings unlike other major sports venues. Unlike these structures imposing over their environment, Fenway has a markedly utilitarian appearance and the lack of bulk is also attributable to the field sitting below street level. A famous story tells of Roger Clemons to Boston in 1984 and taking a cab from Logan Airport to the ballpark. Once they arrived at Fenway Park, Clemons said to the taxi driver, “No, Fenway Park, it’s a baseball stadium. This is a warehouse.” Not until the driver told him to look up at the lights did Clemons believe he was outside a major league stadium.

The red-brick depression-style facade of Fenway Park

Changes to Fenway Park Over the Years

Fenway Park took its current shape in 1934 when new owner Tom Yawkey took over with the capital allowing him to spend lavishly toward rebuilding the park. Three months prior to opening day, a fire leveled much of the improvements and Yawkey redoubled efforts, hiring an army of workers during the height of The Depression. The project consisted of a seven month stretch of construction and after two fires set back progress Yawkey instituted an around-the-clock schedule. Yawkey’s improvements and renovations to Fenway Park were one of the largest depression-era construction projects in Boston, second only to the Tobin Bridge, and Yawkey’s use of union labor endeared him and his version of Fenway Park to Boston residents. The major changes Yawkey made to the ballpark in 1934 included:

  • Leveled Duffy’s Cliff.
  • Covered wall in concrete and tin. Yawkey also had his and his wife’s initials painted in Morse code on the wall where they remain today.
  • Installed a manual scoreboard in the base of the wall, which is the last hand-operated scoreboard in the American League.
  • Replaced wooden bleachers with concrete structures.

Changes continued over the years as seats were added and the outfield wall was moved to increase capacity. The last change to the playing field was when Yawkey built bullpens inside the right-field fence. Yawkey’s reasoning for the relocation of the bullpens, was to aid new star Ted Williams by pulling in the fence 23ft and making it easier for the right-handed hitter to hit ball out of the playing field. The area became known as Williamsburg, but Williams hit less than three dozen of his 521 home runs into the bullpens.

Fenway Park media box behind home plate

In 1999, plans were announced to demolish and rebuild Fenway. The public voiced stiff resistance despite ownership and Boston media (including Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan) considering it inevitable. In 2002, a group led by John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucciano bought the Boston Red Sox and began engineering studies toward renovating Fenway Park. The group decided renovation was preferred over rebuilding and over the next ten years they spent $285 million on renovations and improvements. The result is a critically-acclaimed restoration project that succeeded in modernizing and expanding capacity without compromising the intimacy and character that make Fenway Park what it is. After renovations were declared complete in 2012, engineers estimated another 40-50 years of useful life.

Despite the current owners not planning for any additional major renovations, any future changes to Fenway Park will require a thorough permitting since it was announced in 2012 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Another recent accolade for Fenway Park was when the American Institute of Architects placed Fenway Park on its list of 150 buildings that defined “The Shape of America.” One member of the AIA noted, “The odd thing about Fenway is that probably of the top 150 buildings that we’re dealing with on the list, this one exhibits the least sense of intentional design by one hand.”

Miscellaneous Fenway Park Facts

  • Fenway Park currently has over 700 consecutive sellouts and counting. The streak began on May 15, 2003 and in 2008 the Red Sox organization broke the Major League Baseball record of 456 consecutive sellouts.
  • Fenway Park leads all MLB stadiums in hot dog sales by selling 1.5 million Fenway Franks a year.
  • Fenway Park once housed a candlepin bowling alley below the ballpark. The bowling alley was removed during the recent renovations so management offices could be expanded, but wood from the lanes was repurposed for the countertops of a bar built on the right-field pavilion.
  • At one point, the owner of the New York Yankees held the mortgage on Fenway Park as collateral for a loan.
  • Prior to 2004 reengineering, heavy rains would cause Boston’s sewage drains to back up to the point where fish would be able to swim from the Charles River to the field at Fenway Park. Once the water drained, fish as big as a foot long would be left on the field.

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Ink Block Project Slated for Former Boston Herald Site

Ink Block development to be built on the former Boston Herald siteThe proposal for the Ink Block development has been made public and a new vision for this area of Boston’s South End neighborhood is a drastic departure from the current state of the area once known as the New York Streets. The New York Streets neighborhood was Boston’s first victim of urban renewal in the late 1950s, a vibrant multi-ethnic neighborhood turned into an unwelcoming industrial wasteland in order to keep the Boston Herald from leaving Boston.

After fifty years at the site, the Boston Herald closed down their production at the South End location known as One Herald Square. The sounds of reporters on the phone and typing out stories ceased. The print presses were shut down. The company moved their offices to the new Innovation District in Boston’s Seaport and began paying The Boston Globe to print and distribute their newspapers circulated in the Boston area.

With the Boston Herald site shuttered, the focus turns to what will become of the 6 acre site they left behind. The site, which runs along Harrison Avenue from Herald Street to Traveler Street, is owned by National Development, which bought the property five years ago. National Development is based in Newton and has been involved in many local developments such as Station Landing, a residential and retail complex in Medford; the Kensington project, a 27-story residential building across from the Ritz-Carlton in Downtown Boston; the Marriott Residence Inn in Charlestown’s Navy Yard; and Longwood Center, a life-sciences building in the Longwood Medical Area. National Development plans to develop the project known as Ink Block with Patrick Purcell, Boston Herald publisher, as a minority investor.

Last week, National Development went before a group of local residents at Project Place to discuss the Ink Block proposal it had submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The Ink Block proposal requires the demolition of the current building known as One Herald Square and envisions in its place four new structures with a total of 475 apartments, a grocery store, retail shops, restaurants, and over 400 parking spaces. The completed Ink Block project will total 550,000 square feet total with 85,000 square feet allocated to ground floor retail. The four buildings will be metal, glass, and brick, each distinct in appearance from the others. One building will be five stories tall, two will be eight stories, and the fourth nine stories. The Ink Block plans were designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects.

The Ink Block apartments will be spread out over all four buildings and will include lofts, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartments. Rents have not yet been determined for the apartments, but 15% of the units will be affordable. All the affordable housing will be on site.

Ink Block apartment amenities will include a roof deck with pool, theater, fitness center, cyber lounge, bicycle storage, shared car service (Zipcar), shared bike service (Hubway), and electric car charging stations. The garage will offer around one parking space available for every two residential units.

30,000 square feet of the project is allocated for a grocery store. Community members were pleased with this announcement, saying the area has a void when it comes to nearby grocers. The news was tempered when National Development said the desired Whole Foods was not among the grocers currently in talks despite the developer’s pursuit of the national upscale chain. It was mentioned that an urban Stop & Shop has experience in similar locations.

UPDATE: New York based Wegman’s supermarket has expressed interest in opening a Boston store and Danny Wegman, the chain’s chief executive, toured the Ink Block site during the last week of March. Wegman, in a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said, “We believe we belong in Boston, not just in the suburbs.’’ He also toured sites in the Fenway.

LATEST UPDATE: Whole Foods Market has agreed to anchor the retail portion of the Ink Block project with a 50,000 square foot store, which will be the largest Whole Foods Market in the Boston area. The store will feature a full selection of organic and natural foods, a wine selection, prepared foods, a gelato bar, and an outdoor cafe seating area on Harrison Avenue. In a prepared statement, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said, ”This is a huge milestone for the neighborhood, and I am proud to welcome Whole Foods to the South End.”

National Development said the goal of the Ink Block project is to create a more inviting pedestrian-friendly area and to this end the proposal calls for wider sidewalks and the bulk of parking to be hidden in the interior of the structure. The vision of a human-scale development is the result, in part, of a proposal National Development submitted last spring for a smaller project that was derided by neighbors as uninspiring and suburban. Since that last proposal, approval of the Harrison-Albany Corridor Strategic Plan allowed for bigger development. The community wants Ink Block, as the first new development in this part of the South End, to set a tone and it appears National Development is listening.

The Ink Block developers did not purchase three adjacent buildings on Albany Street

Three adjacent buildings on Albany Street

Although most of the reception for the new Ink Block proposal was favorable at the recent Project Place pitch, some questioned National Development’s choice to not buy three adjoining properties along Albany Street. Those three properties appear empty, recently vacated by an insurance company, a taxi stand, and F.W. Webb. The detractors claimed National Development missed the opportunity to develop the site to its true potential, but the company said their analysis showed the current market would not bear the larger project.

The finished Ink Block project will be one of the largest residential developments in Boston, built on one of the few large plots available for development in the city. The plan is for Ink Block to be built in phases. The first building will be a nine-story building on Herald Street, followed by a five-story building facing Harrison Avenue and housing the grocery store, and then an eight-story building facing Harrison. The fourth building, facing Traveler Street, may be delayed until construction and occupation of the first three buildings. The entire Ink Block project is projected to be completed before 2016 and cost around $125 million.

To discuss how the proposal of the Ink Block project will affect investment property in Boston’s South End neighborhood, contact our Realtors.

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Cash Buyers Make Up Over 50% of Boston Property Sales

A couple weeks ago, I ran across the stat that 38% of recent real estate transactions nationally were paid in cash compared to the 18-20% of residential real estate transactions usually paid in cash. I posted the stat to my social media channels and this led to a dialogue with a couple of people about what we could take from the stat.

One commenter”s opinion was the increase was the result of foreclosures. His logic revolved around prices having fallen to a level within reach of larger number of peoples’ savings. I said I’d see if I could find some additional statistics breaking down the numbers by location and purchase price.

The rise in real estate transactions paid in cash can be attributed to investors buying distressed property (short sales and foreclosures) in some parts of the country, but it is not the only factor.

The downtown neighborhoods of Boston, which made it through the housing crisis relatively unscathed, have seen cash transactions make up over 50% of all real estate transactions so far this year. The increase in home buyers paying cash has increased each year since the housing crash, from 28% of all real estate transactions in 2008, to 29% in 2009, 31% in 2010, up to 48% in 2011.

In Boston, cash buyers are not uncommon at higher prices. The percentages vary, but cash transactions make up a large percentage of the city’s high-end sales. Boston’s most expensive real estate transaction in the last year, a penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental, was bought in June for $13.2 million in cash.

Wealthy investors looking for a place to invest excess cash gravitate toward real estate as the stock market remains volatile. Property in Boston appears safe in comparison, especially since it is a market that has remained steady during the economic turmoil.

The view of Boston property as a safe investment has also attracted international investors. A recent study found 50 percent of real estate investment is concentrated in 30 cities and Boston ranked 18th on the list; considering Boston’s geographic size, this is オンライン カジノ a significant statistic. Canada, China, Brazil, Russia, and Europe are all sources of buyers because they view property in the United States as a safe investment. These foreign investors are cash buyers out of necessity because they do not qualify for financing without credit history established within the States.

Real estate transactions paid in cash are on the riseForeign buyers have been buying investment property at all price points and these overseas investors are one reason we are seeing cash transactions across the purchase price spectrum. The mid-price and lower-price real estate transactions in Boston have not been cash purchases historically. This unusual activity is the main reason cash transactions have made up over 50% of all real estate sales this year.

Tightened lending regulations have also contributed to the historically high percentage of cash buyers in Boston. More buyers are having difficulty obtaining financing, but even if a homebuyer has no problem getting financing, the property may present challenges because lenders deem it non-warrantable. Some common reasons for lenders to refuse financing are low owner occupancy (under 50%) in a building, too large of a commercial interest (over 20%) in a condo association, ongoing litigation, low pre-sale in a development, a home owners” association with budgeted reserve allocation less than 10% of operating revenues, and an appraisal price being too far below the proposed purchase price of a property. A cash purchase is often the only option if a property meets one of these criteria.

Buyers capable of making a cash offer are aware of the current lending environment. These buyers know they can often secure a favorable deal because sellers who have seen transactions fall apart because of financing might take a lower price rather than try their luck with a buyer seeking financing.

Two other factors contributing to the rise in cash transactions are empty-nesters and “kiddie condos.” Baby boomers who have been downsizing and looking for a more walk-centric lifestyle are buying Boston condos with profits from selling their suburban homes. Another demographic of cash buyer is affluent parents buying “kiddie condos” for their children who are attending one of Boston’s universities since the current market is shifting toward buying being more affordable than renting for the same period.

The market continues to improve and not only for those who can afford to pay cash. For a more detailed explanation of current real estate market trends in Boston, to discuss the ramifications of cash versus lender financing, or to explore if investment property is right for you, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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