Boston’s population is the highest it’s been since the 1970s, up to over 625,000 people. With cranes as far as the eye can see, new developments are going up in areas considered in the past to be tired or rundown. However, buildings are not going up as fast as the demands call for it.
Buyers are chomping at the bit to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with city living offered in the downtown neighborhoods of Boston. Convenience of shops and restaurants, little to no need for cars, and the vibrant energy of the city are appealing to young professionals, empty nesters, and young families. More people prefer the location and lifestyle that comes with living in a condo over square footage and a yard that comes with a single family home. The demand is high, inventory remains low, and people are ready, willing, and able to pay what the market demands. The competition between investors and home buyers is stiff. Investors are fully aware rentals are in as much high demand as condos, so they are not concerned with the investment potential associated with rental property.
Over the weekend Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson hosted an open house at their listing 41 Commonwealth Ave #3. A beautiful lofted one bed on the second block of Commonwealth Ave in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood priced at $489,000. The open house was from 11:30am-1pm, in the hour and a half the door was open, over 50 groups came through. The buyers ranged from first-time homebuyers, empty nesters, and investors. And as a result the property was under agreement Monday evening after receiving multiple offers.
This is not a rare occurrence and it is fantastic for sellers. The high demand is driving up prices and lowering the days a property is on the market. More properties are coming on the sales market, however, and well-priced properties are going under agreement after the first open house. Why wait until next year to sell? We know today’s buyers have the strongest buying power in years. Inventory remains low. Low inventory means low competition which equals the highest price possible.
Matthew Gaskill and Alisa Peterson have listed a new Back Bay condo. This parlor level property is located on the beautiful and historic Commonwealth Avenue, known as Comm Ave to the locals, a street designed after Parisian boulevards with its wide swath of tree-lined park running down the middle. 41 Commonwealth Avenue #3 is located on the sunny side of Comm Ave, which affords it ample Southern light throughout the day. Located on the second block of Comm Ave, between Berkeley and Clarendon, 41 Comm Ave is only one block from Boston’s Public Garden and one block from the shops of Boston’s famed Newbury Street.
41 Commonwealth Avenue was built around 1869, one of four adjoining houses (41, 43, 45, and 47 Commonwealth) built at the same time for banker, real estate investor, and lumber merchant Elijah Chesley Drew and his wife Hannah. The Drews made their home in 41 Commonwealth Avenue and sold the three remaining homes.
This lofted one bedroom condo features soaring 13 foot ceilings, parquet hardwood floors, and period details that include crown molding, wainscoting, and a fireplace with matching mirror above the mantle. The living space is large enough to live and entertain with areas for a sitting area, work station, and a full dining table. The kitchen is fully appointed with stainless steel appliances and a dishwasher. The building features free laundry facilities and a deeded storage area for the exclusive use of the owner of unit #3.
41 Comm Ave #3 would make a great home for a first-time homebuyer, as well as a pied-à-terre or an investment property. The current owners lived in the property until last year when their family expanded and have rented the property for $2600 per month for the last year. At the current rental price, the property offers a healthy positive cash flow as well as the promise of steady appreciation rate in a prime location within Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. With rental prices steadily increasing, the return on your investment will increase in both cash flow and appreciation over time.
With the location on Boston’s best street, owners and tenants alike enjoy all Boston has to offer. The offices of Back Bay are a short walk away while downtown is accessed via a short train ride. When work is over for the day, 41 Comm Ave #3 offers proximity to the Esplanade for a bike ride or jog before heading out for shopping or to one of the eateries along Newbury Street.
The 724 square foot condo at 41 Commonwealth Avenue #3 is being offered at $489,000.
First showings will take place Sunday March 3rd from 11:30-1. Offers, if any, will be reviewed after the open house. Please contact us with and and all questions or to schedule a private showing.
The internet has revolutionized the real estate business. For a long time sellers could only find out what their home was worth when someone told them or the latest real estate section of the paper came out. Today, sellers can go on Zillow and get a “zestimate.” So when all the information is at your finger tips, why work with a Realtor? Many use the saying, “Would you do your own dental work?” or “Would you self-diagnose chest pains?” Selling property is a major endeavor, with the exception of a few people, working with a professional will save you time and money in the long run.
Sellers, unless you have sold property numerous times and have plenty of time, it is in your best interest to work with a Realtor. I understand many will feel I am biased, but there is much more to selling property than putting an ad on the internet and opening a door.
Marketing is the most important factor in getting your home sold at the best possible price. Realtors have access to a variety of networks and we use them all to showcase a property to get it sold. A couple of examples include an email blast to area Realtors, hosting a broker’s open house, and radius mailers introducing the property. According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors analyzing the latest trends of Buyers and Sellers, 90% of buyers use the internet for their search, which means high quality, professional photos are a must. If the pictures are dark, blurry, of messy rooms, or if the listing does not include photos buyers will move on. Many Realtors know how important good pictures are which is why many real estate offices have a professional photographer on staff.
The showings alone can be incredibly time consuming. Depending on the market your home is in, if there is an influx of properties similar to yours, you will have to accommodate every showing you can get. If you list your property with a Realtor, you will still have to accommodate showings but your Realtor can coordinate everything from multiple showings, open houses, and private showings to better accommodate your schedule and maximize the time allotted.
Finally, since 87% of buyers use agents, if you are going to sell your property on your own, you will only save half a commission since you will most likely need to offer a commission for buyer’s agents to bring their clients to your home. The majority of sellers who sell their property without professional assistance usually have a buyer before selling. But if you do not have a buyer and want to sell your property, consider using a professional. A large percentage of owners who try to sell on their own eventually list with a real estate professional, but what has this delay cost them in terms of lost buyers and time?
Would you like to discuss what The Matthew and Alisa Group offers when we list your property? We would be happy to share our method with you, so you can make an informed decision when it is time to sell.
The point of staging is to show off a property to its best potential. If you want the best possible price for your property, you have to show it off as though nothing needs to be improved. I have said this in many previous blogs, but it bears repeating: once you decide to sell your property, stop thinking of it as your home and try to see it as a buyer would. Depending on your property and situation, hiring a professional stager may not be an option. If this is the case, go to a few open houses at a variety of price ranges, but see as many as you can in your price range. Take note of how your competition looks and see what you can do improve your property. If there are not many open houses to see, at the very least do not do any of the following.
Showcasing an odd hobby
If you are an avid accordion collector or have an arachnid obsession, there is no place better to show off your passion than in your home. However, if a buyer comes in, they will not be able to look past it. Worst case scenario, a buyer has a phobia with your hobby and will leave regardless of whether your property is otherwise perfect for them.
People are visual creatures. Most people remember what they see more than what they read or hear. If your home is visually overwhelming (an incohesive color scheme, mismatched furniture, etc), it will be a turn off for buyers. Many people have a hard time picturing beyond what is in front of them. You want the buyers eyes to flow over the entire property, from room to room without anything jarring to stop the movement.
I don’t have a problem with themes. Theme parties, theme costumes, theme drinks, etc. However, if you are selling your property, it maybe a good idea to turn The Miami Room (complete with tanning bed and bar) back into a spare bedroom or office.
Mess for the eyes, ears, and nose
If your property is messy and smells like anything other than baked goods, expect low ball offers. If you don’t think its worth the time to clean thoroughly, buyers will not think its worth the price you are asking.
I think the A&E television series covers the reasons why this is a no-no.
Hiding a mess instead of cleaning and organizing
If you try to stuff all your boxes of paperwork in a closet instead of organizing a filing system, buyers will not be able to see how much storage your property offers. Whether you live in a single family or a condo, storage is a plus for some and a must have for many more. If buyers miss how much storage your property offers, they may move on to something else.
Homes of interior designers and homes that have been done by interior designers can pass without having to be staged prior to listing the home on the real estate sales market. But even then trinkets and personal items that should be put away and excess pieces of furniture can be put into storage. Taking the time to set your property up to show at its best will help get you the best possible price.
As part of the preparation work before listing your home for sale, consult with a professional who can provide an impartial judgement on how to best showcase the property. Whether you consult a Realtor, an interior designer, a stager, or a combination of the three, take their advise to heart without being defensive. Their job is to help you reach your goal of selling a house and the best at doing so are honest with their clients, regardless of how hard their advise is to hear.
The Leather District is located near South Station between Chinatown and Downtown Boston. This neighborhood was first developed as leather factories in the late nineteenth century and converted into an urban residential neighborhood in the late twentieth century. Due to its smaller footprint than most Boston neighborhoods, quality listings are not easy to come by. Which is why Matthew Gaskill and I are excited to announce our new exclusive listing at 121 Beach Street #703!
Built in 1913 by architect Arthur H. Bowditch, 121 Beach Street was originally built to sell leather with the street level used for display and the levels above meant for manufacturing. In 1998 the building was converted to twenty-five residential condos and one commercial condo, but maintained the original barrel-vaulted ceilings and brick & beam structure.
Our listing is unit #703, a 1688 square foot open-layout loft priced at $750,000. This unit features two spacious bedrooms, two full renovated bathrooms, and an open-concept living and dining area with plenty of storage, which is perfect for entertaining. Located on the seventh floor (one level higher than surrounding buildings), this unit gets wonderful light with north and south exposures and has great views of the downtown Boston skyline to the north. This unit can be rented out, so if you are looking to invest in real estate, this is something you will want to see. The building is professionally managed and the condo fees are under $500 and include everything except electric and gas. The building is also pet friendly.
121 Beach Street is conveniently located steps from South Station, Downtown Boston, and the Financial District. In a less than a 10 minute walk, you can find yourself in Fort Point enjoying some of the best restaurants in Boston, such as Sportello and Menton. Just another 5 minutes away you can be in Seaport enjoying more great restaurants and and fun nightlife Temazcal Cantina and the new 75 on Liberty Wharf. If the 10-15 minute walk is too far, located 2 blocks away from 121 Beach Street is O-Ya, the best rated sushi restaurant in Boston.
Getting in and out of the Leather District is a cinch. With South Station down the street you can access the Red Line to Cambridge, take the commuter rail or Amtrak to Providence or New York, or pick up the the Sliver Line to the Boston’s Logan Airport. Driving is also easy with the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and I-93 ramps a few blocks away.
121 Beach Street #703 offers an urban loft feel that doesn’t come around too often in Boston. With this location and what the area has to offer, I hope you get a chance to see it before its gone. An open house is scheduled for 1-2:30pm on Sunday November 4th, 2012. To schedule a private showing, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.
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.
And 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.
With 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.
In 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.
Fires 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.
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.
A 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.
Before 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.
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.
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.