fb-pixelWhat $3 million gets you in the city - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

What $3 million gets you in the city

<?EM-dummyText [Drophead goes here] ?>

34 Church St. Boston is for sale for $2,850,000.elevin studios

Going up? Well . . . sort of.

Though downtown is booming, condos and homes priced at around $3 million — which brokers consider the midrange of the high-end market — aren't moving as quickly, even though inventory is quite low.

During a recent check, only 12 single-family homes and condominiums in Boston priced between $2.8 million and $3.2 million were posted with the Multiple Listing Service. The average number of days they've been listed is 239.5. By contrast, the 39 condos and single-families that sold in this price range over the course of 2015 were on the market an average of just 91.5 days.

"At this price point, it's taking longer,'' says Elaine Dolley, a broker with Otis & Ahearn Real Estate who's selling a $2.82 million condo at The Belvedere. "My theory is that a lot of the new construction has taken a lot of buyers right out of the market."



"What we're seeing is increased demand for luxury full-service construction,'' says Deb Blair , president of LINK, a real estate data firm. Luxury full-service buildings are those with at least 30 units as well as a doorman and/or concierge service. The median selling price for these units was $1.56 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, a 12 percent increase from the same quarter the year before.

Dolley points out the speed at which newer developments are selling. Of 442 units at Millennium Tower , more than 90 percent have sold. And Twenty Two Liberty on Fan Pier in the Seaport sold all 109 of its units quickly.

"These buildings are brand new — new, new, new!'' says Dolley. "And they're offering not just a new product, but incredible amenities: a pilates studio. Yoga. A private chef. Clubhouse. Theater room. Swimming pool. Outdoor fire pit. A lot of buyers are going into this market. They're promised all the bells and whistles and they're getting it."


Couple that with the fact that many buyers don't want to have to do any renovations, and it makes it hard for a property with the wear and tear of even a few years to compete.

Samantha Jason, a broker with William Raveis Real Estate who's selling a completely renovated single-family in Bay Village, says she's seen "a complete mix of people," from empty nesters to city dwellers, come through the home. The suburbanites often have to adjust their expectations when it comes to bedrooms and closets that are typically smaller in the city than in the McMansions they're leaving behind.

Besides empty nesters moving into the city from the suburbs, Blair says, the downtown market also is fueled by international buyers.

"We're seeing foreign buyers, not investor buyers, but foreign buyers who may have multiple properties all over the world,'' she says. "We're also seeing foreign buyers who are buying for their children who are in school."

Here's a sampling of homes on the market for roughly $3 million:

elevin studios




Year built 1868

Square footage 2,961

Bedrooms 5

Baths 3 full, 1 half

Taxes $7,796 (2016); pre-renovation

Last sold for $1.05 million in 2013

The stately brick exterior of this single-family home offers no hint of the sleek, modern look within. Heavily damaged by fire about five years ago, the home was vacant until a recent renovation that added space in the back, making it larger than many of the homes around it. The kitchen, with glass-like white cabinets and Thermador appliances, has a French door to the deck. Where two fireplaces once stood in the living area, there are now gas fireboxes, elevated off the floor, with marble surrounds flanked by built-in bookcases. Perhaps one of the most striking features of the home is the Ann Sacks tile in the bathrooms. There are four levels, with bedrooms on the second and third floors and one on the garden level, which also has a family room and an office/bedroom. This is a smart house; you can control the temperature, sound, lights, security, and fireplaces from a cellphone or tablet. Bonus: The developer will pay for two parking spots behind the building for two years. A tiny park sits on the corner next to the house.


Samantha Jason, The Residential Group at William Raveis Real Estate, 617-756-2560, www.residentialgroup.com




Year built 1890

Square footage 3,751

Bedrooms 5

Baths 3 full, 1 half

Taxes $31,557 (2016)

Last sold for $3.3 million in 2013

In a recent check, this five-level home was the largest single-family home in its price range. "It's a good amount of space on a great street,'' says listing broker Megan Kopman. The home welcomes you with wooden double doors that have pretty leaded glass. Inside, there's great millwork and nine marble fireplaces, some only decorative. The dining room and kitchen, with extras like refrigerated drawers and a butler's pantry, are on the garden level with access to the patio, which has a storage shed and a gate to the walking alley. The home has an elevator. On the third floor, two bedrooms used as offices have built-in shelves and, in one case, a library ladder. The master suite is on the fourth floor; the fifth has two bedrooms with a bathroom between them, and the laundry. The 27-by-17-foot roof deck, with an electronic hatch, has water, electricity, a Bose sound system, and gas. The seller will pay for two parking spaces in a nearby garage for a year.


Megan Kopman, Campion and Company Fine Homes, 617-309-9495, www.campionre.com/realestate/agent/megan-kopman

Elevin Studios



Elevin Studios


Year built 2002

Square footage 1,743

Bedrooms 2

Baths 2 full, 1 half

Monthly fee $2,861

Taxes $21,930 (2016 )

Last sold for $1.77 million in 2002

The view here, overlooking the reflecting pool and fountain at Christian Science Plaza, is incredible. When you enter this condo at The Belvedere — a 62-unit structure attached to the Prudential Center — there's a foyer with a half bath and a coat closet and, straight ahead, a bank of windows in the combination dining/living room with gas fireplace. Both bedrooms have views as well. "The parking is better here than anywhere else in the city,'' says the listing broker, Elaine Dolley. Each unit gets two dedicated parking spaces in a garage. There are also a few spots right out front and convenient covered spaces outside the lobby for short-term parking. The building has a roof deck, a communal space on the second floor that includes a full kitchen with a chef where breakfast is served each morning, a library, and round-the-clock concierge service. Residents have direct access to the Prudential Center; open a fob-operated door and, boom, you're in the shopping center.

Elaine Dolley, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, 617-331-0243, www.otisahearn.com/agent/elaine-dolley


Boston Virtual Imaging


Boston Virtual Imaging



Year built 1900

Square footage 2,015

Bedrooms 2

Baths 2 full, 1 half

Monthly fee $941

Taxes $21,347 (2016)

Last sold for $1.97 million in 2014

A traditional look has been maintained in this newly renovated home in a three-unit property. You'll find substantial moldings, turned balusters on the staircase, and handsome dark-wood doors in the living room. This condo is on the first floor and the lower garden level; on both floors, the layout features a hall-like space in the middle with big rooms at either end. On the main floor, the living room with gas fireplace is at one end; the open kitchen/dining/family room is at the other. A big island with a marble counter offers separation of space in this open area, which is big enough to accommodate a dining table and a sofa. A small fireplace here doesn't work, but the mantel is lovely. Downstairs, the washer and dryer and extra closets are in the hallway between two large bedrooms. There's a parking space and small patio out back. The half bath on the main level has a great marble-tile floor with a bold pattern. On-trend gray paint on the walls helps all the white millwork pop.

Kevin Caulfield, Campion and Company Fine Homes Real Estate, 617-501-3685, www.kevincaulfield.com

Boston Virtual Imaging


Boston Virtual Imaging



Year built 1864

Square footage 2,541

Bedrooms 4

Baths 2 full, 1 half

Taxes $15,912 (2016)

Last sold for $1.71 million in 2014

Listing broker Charlie Ring says this single-family home is "a true Federal: flat front, flat top, flat back." The developer has fully renovated the home. Replaced is the "winder," the central winding staircase, usually found in these homes, resulting in a space "that doesn't feel as vertical,'' Ring says. There are five levels: The contemporary kitchen is on the lowest floor, but a huge slider (providing access to a private, fenced patio) means plenty of sunlight. The kitchen has all you'd expect, plus a microwave drawer in the island and stunning quartz and Calcutta gold marble counters and backsplashes. The main level holds living and dining room space with a wood-burning fireplace. The master suite, with walk-in closet, occupies, conveniently, the entire second floor. The sleek baths all have wall-hung toiletsand interesting stone accents. There's walk-out access through French doors from the fifth floor to the great roof deck.

Charlie Ring, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 617-699-2597, www.charlie-ringrealestate.com

Daniel Blue Photography


Daniel Blue Photography



Year built 1910

Square footage 1,735

Bedrooms 3

Baths 2

Monthly fee $782

Taxes $33,847 (2016)

Last sold for $3.2 million in 2012 (for the entire building, then a multifamily with nine rental units)

This penthouse occupies the top two floors of a building that has been transformed from rentals into four condos. "Everything's brand-new: new electric, new insulation, new sprinklers," and a fifth floor was added to the building, says listing broker Abbe Bonnevie. And, of course, new kitchen, baths, and so on. Let's start at the top. The fifth-floor master suite has not one, but two decks, one facing south toward the Prudential Center and the other north. Instead of a walk-in closet, the developer opted for gorgeous built-in white cabinetry (a mix of drawers and hanging space) on the wall surrounding the gas fireplace. The kitchen, also with white cabinetry, has high-end appliances and soft-close drawers. Big windows allow light to tumble in. The unit has central air. Two parking spaces out back are heated with electric coils under the brick that turn on at a certain temperature to melt snow and ice. The elevator opens directly into the living space, but access to the top floor is via stairs. Dogs under 25 pounds and cats are allowed.

Abbe Bonnevie, Boston Proper Real Estate, 919-649-3987, www.bostonproperrealestate.com

Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to Address@globe.com.