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New Gathering Places in Boston's Back Bay

Coming out of the pandemic, Back Bay businesses and institutions are preparing to welcome back employees and students this Fall. Despite numerous closings of landmark restaurants and retail operations, the City is welcoming new and exciting spots for gathering.

  • The Quin House recently opened its doors as a private social club in Back Bay following a multi-million dollar makeover. It replaces the Algonquin Club, a Brahmin institution from 1888 which had long lost its luster. Located at 217 Commonwealth Avenue, in a grand McKim, Mead & White limestone mansion, this members-only club promises to bring together “the interesting and interested” for drinking/dining, fitness, learning, and playing. 
     
  • Contessa, a new restaurant by Major Food Group has opened on the rooftop garden/terrace atop luxury hotel The Newbury Boston. It features northern Italian food and cocktails, overlooking the Public Garden in a sumptuous space designed by Ken Fulk. 
     
  • A Michelin-rated pizza and wine bar just opened on Newbury Street. Double Zero, as it is named, features plant-based vegan versions of classic pizza and pasta. The chef and owner, Matthew Kenney says “with the right vision and effort, plant-based menus can be as exciting and revelatory as their counterparts”. Plant based dining has exploded in popularity for obvious health benefits, along with the added environmental benefits.

 

Featured Apartments: Home Office and Private Outdoor Space

Many renters are moving back into the City. With remote/hybrid work options being offered by many companies, home offices and outdoor space are highly sought after!  Here are some of our exclusive rentals that offer one or both of these features!
 

140 Shawmut Ave. - 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom penthouse that features a stunning private roof deck. Enjoy having a guest room, home office, and gorgeous city views!

6 Marlborough St. - Recently updated, spacious 1 bedroom.  The building has an elevator that can take you up to a shared roof deck.  Plus it is pet-friendly!

122 Beacon St. - 2 bedroom 2 bathroom floor-through with direct elevator access that features Charles River views from the living room, City views from both bedrooms, and a common roof deck.

195 Beacon St. - 1 bedroom penthouse with a private roof deck!

416 Commonwealth Ave. - This 1 bedroom apartment is perfect should you choose to spend some time in the sun and cool off in the pool! Other features include garage parking, concierge, central AC and in-unit laundry.

170 Tremont St. - 1 bedroom offering stunning views of the Boston Common from the living room windows, 24-hr concierge, garage parking and a shared roof deck.

 

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South End, Boston - Neighborhood Guide

It’s a distinctive Boston neighborhood with a style all its own. The South End. The mere mention of the name immediately brings to mind images of stately Victorian homes, quaint side streets and parks galore. It has become one of Boston’s most desirable places to live. The location is fantastic, situated between Boston’s Back Bay and Bay Village and just minutes from the heart of the City. Famously known for its picturesque row houses, many parks, cafes, arts venues, and dining to suit all tastes, it offers city living with a suburban feel. Walkable to just about everything, the South End is one of Boston's hottest markets, with condos selling at an average of $1,167,245, or an average of $1,061 per square foot (according to LINK Boston Quarterly Sales Summary, Q1 2021 Report).
 

Some "Can't Miss" Current Listings

140 Shawmut Ave. Unit 4C – Exceptional three bedroom, two and a half bath penthouse residence, providing nearly 2,300 square feet of living space on one floor, plus a private roof deck. The Lucas is an award winning historical building converted to a boutique luxury condominium comprised of 33 units, completed in 2017. The building features a concierge, gym, pet spa, and resident's lounge + courtyard.  Offered at $2,995,000

31 Upton Street, Unit 3 - Penthouse duplex three bedroom with private roof deck, central air, laundry in unit and parking.  Available September 1, $6,200/month

63 Berkeley Street, Unit 1 – Large and spacious 3 bedroom apartment with 2 full baths all on one floor. Great living room for entertaining. Open kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops. Hardwood floors, and washer/dryer in unit.  Available September 1, $4,750/month


Popular Pit Stops

Greystone Café - New to the South End, Greystone Café has turned into one of the neighborhood's most popular eateries. Located on the corner of Appleton and Dartmouth, this café offers a terrific variety! Whether it’s coffee, breakfast or lunch you can’t go wrong. 

Sowa’s Open Markets - SoWa, a parcel of the South End standing for South of Washington and known for being an exciting Arts and Design sector. SoWa also offers some of Boston’s most popular and award winning Markets, including:

  • SoWa Farmers Market - Where you can find Food and Groceries in an outdoor setting. Open Sunday’s 11AM-3PM. May 2,2021 – October 21, 2021
  • SoWa’s Art Market - Local artists selling hand made goods, such as jewelry, clothing, home goods and much more
  • SoWa’s Vintage Market - Discover unique antiques, collectable, vintage goods every Sunday rain or shine

Peters Park - One of the South End's most popular parks, where you can find a leash-free dog park, basketball courts, ballfields, and a kid’s play area. 

 

 

Window Boxes to Boost Curb Appeal

With beautiful weather forecasted into the summer and the housing market hot, flowers have the power of ‘curb appeal’! Outdoor flowers are a plus in any common areas, but window boxes make a statement. Eye-level, window boxes bring a charm and a delight to both owner/viewers.

Window box ideas include:

1.  A window box with pansies. Pansies are easy maintenance flowers with a tolerance that can last most seasons. Easy to plant and bringing a wide range of colors that brighten any area, no matter the exterior color. When pansies need water, you can typically tell by the way they look (almost wilting). Also mix well with other flowers such as violas, coleus and alyssum. 

2.  A window box with geraniums. Geraniums are another easy, low maintenance plant, that give off vibrant colors and a pleasant scent. When planting geraniums, plant just under where the stem meets the root. Make sure the window box has good drainage to avoid root rot. These plants will need little to no water - some deadheading is helpful - April/May showers may be enough!

3.  A window box for petunias. Petunias are the summer plant. Something so simple to take care of, yet so beautiful. Water twice a week, petunias will grow luxuriously over your window box and have a vine effect. They will catch any viewers' eyes and add to the aesthetics of any space.

4.  A window box for vegetables. To add to your garden space and ‘fresh produce’, a window box for vegetables is a great idea for condos/apartments or any dwelling lacking land space. Cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce are all plants that benefit in a window box. What better than fresh produce straight from your window? These plants take water two/three times a week and grow great organically.

 

Tips on Packing and Moving

Moving during COVID-19 presents additional challenges, but also opportunities. Last Fall I moved and experienced it first-hand. For the first time, I had the luxury of additional time to really sort through my things. I was amazed at what I had been willing to pack and bring on my last 3 moves; but now I could change that pattern.

First, we made the tough decisions and let go of some of our things.  We made donations and used NextDoor to post some of those items, selling vases, bedroom furniture and even an old, down-on-its luck bicycle. Next, we reused boxes from our last move, which saved time and money. Lastly, we hired movers, because we couldn’t depend on family (like we always did) amidst the pandemic. The move was one of our easiest. I hope these suggestions help your next move be less stressful and more seamless. 

1.  Declutter:  Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year and things that may have accumulated over time (for me, mainly from impulse purchases). You can visit these links to donate some of your clutter https://www.moving.com/tips/charities-free-donation-pickup/ and https://bigfootmoving.com/residential/donate-unwanted-items/.

2.  Boxes:  Pick out different sized boxes. There are even boxes that you can hang your clothes and coats. 

3.  Labels:  Label the boxes by room and write on the box what is placed inside, then you can place those boxes in the appropriate rooms. This alleviates a lot re-moving heavy boxes from room to room. 

4.  Packing:  Use appropriate boxes for items, place heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Check the box’s weight often to avoid over packing and making the box too heavy. 

5.  Chargers:  Create a necessity bag and place important items in it, such as phone chargers and important documents.

6.  Movers:  Book your movers as soon as you have your move in date. Also, ask about what extra costs you could anticipate (e.g., tape, furniture covers). (Bonus tip: If you are going to rent your own truck, get one with a ramp - it’s worth the extra money!

7.  Utilities:  Call and set a date to shut off your existing utilities and set start dates at your new place. 
 

There are a lot of movers in and around Boston.  Here are a few that my clients and I have used:

Stairhopper Movers - https://stairhoppers.com/

Gentle Giant - https://www.gentlegiant.com

Olympia Movers - https://olympiamoving.com/


You can also help a great cause while moving by choosing one of these moving companies that will donate your food you don’t want to move:  https://moveforhunger.org/find-a-mover


 

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Need to Break Your Lease?

There are many reasons why someone may need to “break” their apartment lease.  Generally, it is a stressful situation for everyone involved – the tenant usually would not be leaving their apartment were it not for the unforeseen circumstances, and the landlord is concerned about being able to pay their mortgage, real estate taxes and other operating expenses.

It typically becomes important to find a suitable replacement tenant as soon as possible.  Here are some tips for tenants needing to break their lease: 

  • Give the landlord a firm date, in writing, that you will be moving out.  This allows the landlord (and their rental agent) to market the apartment with an available move in date.
     
  • The apartment should be clean and tidy.
     
  • Offer to take updated pictures and a video tour of the apartment, and allow agents to do so too.  This is particularly important in the current environment.  Having pictures and video can help maximize advertising efficiency and limit the number of in-person tours that are required. 
     
  • Make the apartment easily accessible for agents and their clients to view.  Generally, a prospective tenant will NEED to see an apartment in-person before signing a lease.  The easier it is for access, the quicker it generally is to complete a deal with a replacement tenant (which will then eliminate the need for continued disruptions).
     
  • Consider offering incentives to any incoming prospects.  This may include offering to pay the incoming broker fee.  The inventory of available apartments is high right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we do see situations where the lease-breaking tenant will offer incentives to help get a deal done with a replacement tenant in order to get “off the hook” since it can be cheaper in the long run depending on how much time is left on the lease.
     

We understand that lease break situations can be stressful for all parties involved.  Please feel free to reach out to us and we will do our best to help you navigate through it.

 

 

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Off Market & Private Listings

Traditionally, real estate listings are immediately placed in the multiple listing service (MLS) with photos, a description of the property, HOA fees, floor plans, pricing and other items that are relevant to a possible buyer. This allows the listing to be shared with the broadest possible audience of buyers, and buyer agents. 

Recently, and especially over the last year with the COVID pandemic, off market and private listings have become much more prevalent. For obvious reasons, sellers didn’t want strangers coming into their homes. Instead, the property is quietly marketed through the listing agent’s network of fellow agents, client list, and sphere of influence.  An experienced agent may belong to professional networking group(s).

Besides the changes made due to COVID, the ultra-luxury market is rife with “whisper” listings. Buyers in this category want what others can’t have. It’s exclusive and confidential and they want what their friends can’t get. For the seller, it provides privacy. They don’t want their homes published in MLS, and then propagated to Zillow and countless other public websites.

Case in point, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s Brookline compound recently traded in an exclusive off market transaction (the sale price was kept private, but many speculate it was over $30M). The property had previously been listed on MLS with another agent for several months without finding a buyer. The power couple hired a new broker who deployed the “off market” strategy to selling their house.

My past four sales have all been private deals, priced from $705,000 to $8,450,000. I’ll be curious to see if this trend continues as we start to get more vaccines rolled out and life returns to something more normal for all of us.

 

 

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Re-Setting the Table

Spring is upon us! Hibernation is over and Boston & Cambridge restaurants are waking up from a lengthy period of deep sleep and take-out. This is great news for restaurateurs, diners, tourists and landlords alike!
 

Here are some restaurants Boston.com highlighted as re-opening in March:

Burro Bar     -     Brookline & South End

City Bar     -     Back Bay

Coppersmiths     -     Southie

Dorchester Brewing Co.     -     Dorchester

Galway House     -     Jamaica Plain

Oak & Rowan     -     Fort Point
 


In a recent article, Terrence Doyle of bostoneater.com recommended these new eateries debuting this Spring:

Cicada Coffee Bar - Vietnamese coffee shop with zen garden.  Cambridge

Cloud & Spirits - Koren-inspired New American.  Cambridge

Mida - house made pasta.  South End & Newton

Wood Fired Love - wood-fired pizza.  Mission Hill

Punch Bowl - contemporary New England fare.  Brookline
 

In anticipation of Summer, I suggest:

Jaho Ice Creme - Japanese style soft serve.  Back Bay, Chinatown & South End

New City Microcreamery - unique flavors made with liquid nitrogen.  Cambridge 

Taiyaki - Japanese waffle treat.  Seaport

Honeycomb Creamery - ice creme tacos.  Cambridge

Milk Bar - signature cereal milk soft serve.  Cambridge

 

 

What is a Cap Rate?

One commonly used metric for evaluating investment property is the capitalization rate, or cap rate.  Overly simplified, it’s what your annual rate of return would be if you purchased a property with all cash (no mortgage).  Put another way, the cap rate is what investors are willing to pay for a dollar of net operating income (NOI).  It is calculated as follows:
 

Cap Rate  =     Net Operating Income   
                   Purchase Price


The main value of a cap rate analysis is its ease and simplicity.  By knowing or estimating the annual rents and expenses, and considering the asking price, you can quickly gauge the “asking” cap rate. 

Market cap rates vary significantly by property type (e.g. multifamily/residential, retail, office, etc.), by location and other factors (e.g. creditworthiness of tenants, length of leases that are in place, etc.).

Other important considerations:

  • Consider whether you are (or should be) evaluating the current/in-place net operating income or the projected net operating income.  If the property is under-rented/substantially vacant, then looking at just the current cap rate may not provide a reliable assessment.
     
  • Consider what expenses you are including, and excluding, in your calculation of net operating income.  This will have a direct impact on the cap rate analysis.  For instance, if you are analyzing a property that shows no property management fee in their operating statement but you are planning to hire a property management company, then that needs to be factored into your analysis.


If you have questions about buying or selling investment property in or around Boston, please contact us.  We are also happy to share recent market reports with cap rate trends.

 

 

How Quickly are Condos Going Under Agreement in Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End?

In Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End, competition for condos can be fierce. Available inventory has remained low - essentially at the same levels as we saw pre-pandemic - so when well-priced, desirable condos hit the market, they sell quickly. 

How quickly?  Based on MLS data for condos listed between 12/23/2020 and 2/23/2021 (past 2 months), the following are the average days to accepted offer in the Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill:
 

Under $1,000,000:  8.14 days

$1,000,000 - $1,999,999:  3.88 days

$2,000,000 - $2,999,999:  13.29 days

$3,000,000 and above: 15 days


On the market for less than 4 days on average, competition is extremely high for condos in the $1-2 million range.  Additionally, buyers are prioritizing outdoor space (especially private roof decks and patios).  The figures above are only for condos that have gone under agreement or sold, and there are units that are sitting on the market, but this data shows that buyers are out and looking this Spring.  

Connect with us if you are considering a move - we can set you up for immediate notifications and help you react quickly when you find your dream home.  With condos selling as quickly as they are, there is no time to snooze!

 


 

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