Boston’s high-end housing market is so hot these days even new condos that haven’t been lived in yet are being flipped for big profits.
That’s what happened at 22 Liberty, a new glass-walled condo building on Fan Pier with views of the harbor and the downtown skyline. Six of the 118 units were sold by their original buyers before the building even opened at the start of this year — each one for at least $500,000 above the original price. Five more units are currently listed for sale.
Such flips are not uncommon in similar buildings, but what is notable are the high prices being paid, according to real estate brokers.
Every flipper netted double-digit returns on the briefly owned condos, according to deeds filed in Suffolk County. A 10th-floor unit that was bought for $4.6 million was resold at $5.7 million.
And the units now on the market could fetch even greater profits: One penthouse unit — advertised as “a truly rare opportunity in Boston’s newest and most sought after luxury address” — is listed at just under $5.8 million, or 39 percent more than its current owner paid.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like that in Boston,” said Debra Taylor Blair, president of the real estate data firm LINK, who has tracked the city’s luxury housing market for a quarter-century.
“There is so much pent-up demand for these luxury, full-service, new construction buildings.”
22 Liberty is the first of several ultra-high-end condo buildings to hit the market in Boston. The Millennium Tower in Downtown Crossing, One Dalton in the Back Bay, and several others from the Seaport to the Fenway are in line to open over the next few years. 22 Liberty, though, is the first where sales have closed, giving a window into the market for these elite properties.
Developer Joe Fallon, who built the 14-story condo building perched above Boston Harbor, marketed it as a one-of-a-kind, with panoramic views, its own private shuttle, a private club, and other high-end amenities.
“People recognized the special nature of this building,” said Fallon, who is building a second elite condo building next door at 50 Liberty.
And it benefited from good timing, noted Sue Hawkes, president of the real estate marketing firm The Collaborative Cos.: 22 Liberty hit the market just as demand for the upper end of the luxury market was surging, and there was little competition.
The building sold out fast, with a median sales price of nearly $2.9 million, according to LINK.
The biggest sale recorded was to a holding company controlled by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, which paid $12.1 million for a pair of penthouses. Other boldface names in the building include technology entrepreneur Paul English and Vertex Pharmaceuticals founder Josh Boger. At least 20 units, including many of the priciest, were bought through trusts or limited liability companies that keep buyer’s names out of public records.
Most of the buyers, Fallon said, are well-off suburban empty-nesters who want to move to the city. Many were referred by friends who had bought in the building. Some work at neighboring Vertex or at companies in nearby Fort Point or the Financial District.
‘I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like that in Boston.’Debra Taylor Blair, president of the real estate data firm LINK
“A lot of sales came through word-of-mouth,” said Fallon, whose firm handled all sales and marketing itself, instead of advertising broadly through traditional brokers.
Several of the people who bought and sold quickly either declined to comment or did not respond to messages from the Globe.
According to public records they include an orthodontist, a telecom executive, and the retired owner of a printing company in Maine. None have the renown of some of the building’s bigger names. Most, Fallon said, had “life changes” — such as a new job out of Boston — after they had signed a purchase agreement and decided to sell. Several, though, appeared to have bought another unit in the building after they sold their original.
Finding new buyers wasn’t hard, he said. The building had a sizable waiting list, Fallon said. Some of those sellers recruited friends to buy or sold to a 22 Liberty neighbor looking for more space.
As for the price bumps, he said he expected those, too.
“These units were originally priced a year and a half ago,” Fallon said. “There’s very strong demand.”
Still, the prices the flipped units are fetching — $2,000 or more per square foot, according to LINK — will set a new standard for prime luxury condos, Hawkes said.
As for those who bought and sold quick, Hawkes noted, they made out well. Every one of them so far, according to the public records, has cleared at least $500,000 above the original price.
“No matter why they bought or sold them,” Hawkes said, “that’s not a bad investment.”