Is a Fixer-Upper For You?

Many people buying a home for the first time believe they will know what home to buy because they will fall in love. This is somewhat true, but as the saying goes “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” In competitive real estate markets, love will take some work and the question you have to ask yourself is how much love (and work) are you comfortable putting in?

Every homebuyer needs to be flexible in certain areas of their criteria. In an ideal world, a buyer finds the perfect home in the area they want and the house is move-in ready (or a turn-key property in realtor speak).

A fixer-upper may be an option to consider

If location is the most important factor in your search and nothing is available in your price range, you might want expand your price range. I’m not only advocating looking at higher priced properties, but also those at a lower price point, which will require some level of renovation. If you find listings matching all of your other criteria but are rough around the edges, take a look and keep an open mind to the possibilities. In competitive real estate markets, the properties with more than the average days on market tend to be fixer-uppers. One of the biggest positives of buying a fixer-upper, is your home can reflect your tastes instead of the seller’s. Another positive is you have a better opportunity to negotiate since many buyers do not want to put in the time, money, or effort for renovations. Less competition from other buyers means more leverage when it comes time to negotiate. Once you have purchased the property and made improvements, you will see a much quicker appreciation in your asset’s value. The improvements do not have to be top-of -the-line renovations to see a quick appreciation, many simpler projects can bring a strong return on your investment.

Keep in mind renovations are not for everyone. Unless you plan to do a renovation yourself, you can never guarantee how long the work will actually take. Projects can be delayed for all kinds of reasons but the worst case scenario comes from the fact not everything can found during inspection and what can start as a simple project can turn into something major. A dream home can turn into a money pit, but a looked over fixer-upper, can be the home you never knew you always wanted.

Buying a home is an emotional process. Like in dating, don’t be discouraged by thinking all the good ones are taken. Sometimes taking a second look on an option that doesn’t seem perfect might become better than what you thought you wanted.

If you are interested in searching property for sale, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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Restoration vs Development in South Boston

After viewing the unique property at 928 East Broadway in South Boston recently, I started thinking about the line separating historical preservation and new development. The client who was interested in the property is an investor whose intent was to tear down the existing structures and build a new condo development on the land. It is not as though the developer could not appreciate the charm and significance of the Second Empire mansion built in 1867, but the land would be worth more to him with a new building than with the existing structure. He’s not alone as most of those who have shown interest in the property have had similar plans.

South Boston mansion at 928 E BroadwayAs a single-family home of over 6066 square feet the mansion with a mansard roof offers a significant amount of space for any neighborhood in Boston’s downtown neighborhoods. The current price of 2.3 million dollars looks good considering any other property in Boston’s central neighborhoods with over 6000 square feet is asking for over 4 million dollars. But once you factor in an adjustment for location (the competing properties are all in Back Bay or Beacon Hill) and the need for a total renovation the perceived savings disappear. Consider a middle of the road 250 dollar per square foot renovation and you are looking at a 1.5 million dollar restoration project.

The cost concerns are one reason most potential buyers have been looking at the property for development, but the other reason is the half acre of land located on East Broadway a block from the beach and Pleasure Bay. Only one property on the market in Boston’s central neighborhoods offers as much land and it is a parcel in New Market Square zoned for commercial use.

“Given the investment potential of a half acre corner lot a block from the Atlantic Ocean, why has it not sold?”

Good question.

Part of the answer has to do with two parcels existing on one deed, each with encumbrances on each other, but the biggest potential hurdle may be resistance to leveling an historic residence. The property is not listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places or any other list of protected property, but it is an historic property.

928 East Broadway was built in 1867 for James Collins, a wholesale liquor distributor and a real estate investor who developed much of the City Point area of South Boston during the late 1860’s to late 1880‘s. The remaining large scale frame mansard residences in Boston include the Manning/Johnson House at 69 Thomas Park and 928 East Broadway. The home features an unusually deep set-back, in part because Colins owned the entire block now bordered by East Broadway to the South, Farragut Road to the East, East 3rd Street to the North, and P Street to the East. Before Day Boulevard was constructed, the plot of land owned by Collins was oceanfront property.

Collins built brick homes at 936-942 East Broadway for his children

The Queen Anne brick row houses Collins built for his children

In 1884, Collins hired architect Patrick W Ford to build the Queen Anne brick row houses located adjacent to his residence at. Collins built these homes for his children and in 1890 he built the more utilitarian row houses at 823-833 East Third Street for his employees.

The recent history of 928 East Broadway is more humble as it served as a boarding house as recently as 2006.

I assume, as have most of the potential investors, proposals to tear down the existing building will be met with objections from abutters and the neighborhood association.

I can see the argument for historical preservation and love Boston for its sense of history, especially when it comes to its wide-ranging examples of different architectural styles. The problem is when those with no financial stake have the ability to restrict progress and affect the finances of a landowner. It is a fine line, one that must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and in better ways than I have seen recently.

Personally, I would love to see the mansion at 928 East Broadway restored to the elegant single-family home it once was. But without the checkbook to see it through, does what I want matter?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I would like to know what you think about 928 East Broadway and regarding restoration vs development in general.

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Is the Benjamin Mansion Boston’s Finest Restoration?

It is not often I walk through a home and see so many correct choices made on a development project.

I recently had the honor of previewing the single-family home for sale at 74 Beacon Street for an international buyer client I have been working with. The townhouse was originally built in 1828 by architect Asher Benjamin, who was best known for the Old West Church and the Charles Street Meeting House. Some say the wealthy buyers of these Asher Benjamin mansions chose the Beacon Street location because they viewed the newly formed “flat of Beacon Hill” as a superior location to the steep slope of Mt. Vernon Street. Although, in reality, these mansions were located near the city dump at the bottom of Beacon Street when built. Not until Back Bay was filled in did the area start to transform into the prime real estate we consider it today.

The Benjamin Mansion at 74 Beacon Street

One of the developers involved in the restoration grew up in a townhouse in London and her knowledge was an asset as the development team undertook a three-year gut-renovation project. The result was a restoration blending old-world detail and modern amenities. Some of those amenities include a heated rooftop endless infinity lap pool, deeded parking and a Brimmer Street garage space, an elevator, two roof decks, a patio, smart home technology, and a laundry room GQ found worthy of a Tom Brady photo shoot.

The price does reflect the quality at $1769 a square foot which is a price usually reserved for the first block of Comm Ave, Louisburg Square, and high-end buildings such as the Mandarin Oriental or the Carlton House.

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