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What $3 million gets you in the suburbs

This home in Harvard is listed for $2,850,000.Greg Premru Photography

Second in a two-part series. See "What $3 million buys in Boston" here.

Magnificent views of the Atlantic. Medallions and mosaic-tile work inspired by the Venetian splendor of a Boston museum. A family room crafted from the reclaimed wood of a Connecticut barn. These are just a few examples of what $3 million can buy you in the suburbs of Boston.

Despite these wonderful and grand features, properties priced between $2.8 and $3.2 million are taking some time to sell.

"It's slow here at this time of the year,'' says Mary Beiche, a realtor in Hingham, "but things will pick up again after February vacation."

A recent check of the Multiple Listing Service Property Information Network found 76 properties on the market in this price range statewide (Boston was not included in the total). Twenty-two of those were on the Cape and Islands; two were in Western Massachusetts. The average days on market was 238, or more than seven months.


"It's fairly slow,'' said David Hallowell, a realtor with Waterfront Realty Group in Duxbury. "A lot of people like to take their homes off the market this time of year, because they don't want to be disrupted for the holidays and there's not a lot of activity. But we've been encouraging people to keep their house on the market, because this time of year what you do get are serious buyers."

And what does the typical buyer who can afford a $3 million home want?

"The ocean,'' says Sarah Lubeck of Harborside Sotheby's International Realty in Marblehead. "That's where you want to be."

Beiche agrees: "On the South Shore, you have to have ocean views for a $3 million house — without a doubt."

In terms of the house itself, high-end buyers "expect size. And they expect all the best systems for heating and central air, all the electronics, the alarm system, the sprinkler system,'' and privacy, says Veronika Breer, a broker with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Cambridge. But, she added, "With high-end new construction, a lot of them are really vanilla."

One of her listings, a home in Sudbury inspired by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, is anything but. Which also means it's not for everyone.


"Somebody will walk in and fall in love with it,'' Breer says. "It's the chemistry."

J. Stanley Edwards, a broker with LandVest Inc. in Boston who's selling an equestrian property in Harvard, is in a similar situation.

"It's a sleepy market, but I don't blame this not selling on a sleepy market," she says of the rural home. "I blame it on the fact that we need such a specific buyer. You have to want to do this, and you have to want the ongoing expense of doing this. So you have to have deep pockets and you have to have passion."

Here's a sampling of homes in the suburbs for roughly $3 million:

Greg Premru Photography


Greg Premru Photography



Year built 1725

Square footage 4,042

Bedrooms 4

Baths 3 full

Taxes $14,323 (2016)

Last sold for $47,500 in 1971 when the property was 46 acres

Greg Premru Photography

A horse farm with nearly 31 acres, this property includes an antique home with an amazing 1996 addition, a seven-stall barn, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, Idaho red-cedar fencing, a small greenhouse, and trails. Simple and warm, the kitchen houses cabinets built on-site, granite counters, a farmer's sink, and French doors overlooking a patio, pool, and small pond. "The owner is not chichi, froufrou, but everything is top-notch," says broker J. Stanley Edwards of LandVest Inc. The home's new roof is cedar shake, its gutters are copper, the surface in the indoor riding arena is an imported fiber and sand mixture, and the stalls are wired with sprinklers. In the newer portion, there's radiant heat on the first floor, and the family room has a soaring ceiling with exposed-wood beams from an old Connecticut tobacco barn and a huge double-sided fireplace. A pocket wall with a door in it slides out, offering privacy to the master suite, which shares the fireplace. The old portion of the house remains largely unchanged, with a dining room, den, and three bedrooms upstairs.


J. Stanley Edwards, LandVest Inc., 617-948-8057,

Jeff Thiebauth Photography


Jeff Thiebauth Photography



Year built 2007

Square footage 6,531

Bedrooms 4

Baths 5 full, 2 half

Taxes $27,626 (2016)

Sold in 2005 for $1.5 million; house on property at time was demolished

Jeff Thiebauth Photography

The view out over Kingston Bay is the obvious thing to mention here, but this is just a great-looking house inside and out. The hand of a skilled architect is apparent in the unusual layout and gracious, livable feeling despite the large amount of space. The kitchen, with custom pine cabinets and marble counters, has the look of a classic coastal home, and the owners, who love to entertain, made great use of the high-end appliances (including a warming drawer and two dishwashers) and huge pantry. Flooded with light and with ocean views, the first-floor master suite has its own laundry and patio and a big walk-in shower. The combined living and dining room has a coffered ceiling and matching limestone fireplaces at either end. The partly finished basement, not included in the square footage listed above, offers loads of storage, a full bath, a family room, and access to the heated pool. Other features include mahogany floors on the first floor and whitewashed oak on the second, furniture-like vanities in several baths, flared shingles on the exterior, and antique double doors at the front entry. The home sits on 2.2 acres.


Team Hallowell Devnew, Waterfront Realty Group, 781-934-5188,






Year built 2002

Square footage 6,227

Bedrooms 4

Baths 5 full, 1 half

Taxes $26,010 (2015)

Last sold for $2.37 million in 2007

The back of this house (now under agreement) looks out over the Atlantic toward Minot's Ledge Light, while side windows offer views of Little Harbor. It's located across the street from the ocean on a 0.32-acre parcel but sits so high up that the views are unobstructed. The huge kitchen has a custom stone-and-seashell backsplash, white cabinets, and plenty of windows, including one large one topped by a pretty gothic arch. Columns and arches frame the entry from the kitchen to the family room, which has that same stunning window. There are two big decks, one accessible from the family room and the second, great for sunbathing, up off the third floor. That top level is mostly unfinished, save for the deck and a convenient full bath. The basement features a home theater with remotely controlled screen and window shades. Same thing in the master suite: The touch of a button controls lights, window shades, and a double-sided gas fireplace between the bedroom and bath. The tub is situated to take advantage of the views.

Tom Jones/Drone Home Media


Tom Jones/Drone Home Media



Year built 1972

Square footage 5,500

Bedrooms 5

Baths 4 full, 2 half

Taxes $27,187 (2016)

Last sold for $1.54 million in 2000

This renovated contemporary is perched on an embankment and has more than 600 feet of frontage on the Charles River with a dock. Huge windows and walls of glass let the outdoors in, while multiple doors and sliders beckon those inside to head outside. "The view is different every day. They see all sorts of wildlife,'' says broker Mary Crane. Inside is visually interesting, too, with arches and angles. The first-floor master suite has a washer and dryer and a renovated bathroom with hand-carved limestone and double hammered-metal sinks. Another bedroom suite with a renovated bath is at the opposite end of the main level. Paneling on many walls and the kitchen cabinets are custom "figured ash." The walkout lower level is accessible by an elevator or two spiral staircases. At one end of a hall is a bedroom, family room, and kitchenette, while a game room, sitting room, and bedroom are at the other. There's a laundry room, and a series of closets and built-in bookshelves lines the connecting space. The property, on just over 2 acres, includes a second lot.


Mary Crane , Century 21 Commonwealth , 617-413-2879 ,

Michael Breer


Michael Breer



Year built 2006

Square footage 8,746

Bedrooms 4

Baths 4 full, 3 half

Taxes $34,708 (2016)

First time on market
Michael Breer

Just as Isabella Stewart Gardner's love of Venice inspired the design of her home-turned-museum, the owners of this house (a builder and a fashion stylist) were so enamored by that beloved Boston landmark that it moved them to collect antiques and reclaimed items from around the world and incorporate them in the overall design. An antique French baker's table with a hammered-zinc top serves as one of two islands in the kitchen. There's stunning doors from Buenos Aires, reclaimed terra-cotta flooring from France, antique wall-mounted sinks, and Venetian etched glass. Tile work, custom moldings, and medallions are everywhere in this 19-room house, which sits on 2.73 acres on a hill. The kitchen has an imported Italian beehive pizza oven; the finished basement, which is not included in the square footage given above, has a 1,000-plus-bottle wine cellar shaped like a barrel. It all feels less over-the-top than it sounds, with many beautiful elements. "This house is for someone looking for something extraordinary," says broker Veronika Breer.

Veronika Breer, Gibson Sotheby's International Realty, 508-277-8833,

no credit


no credit



Year built 1935

Square footage 3,505

Bedrooms 5

Baths 4 full, 1 half

Taxes $45,771 (2016)

Last sold in 1967; price unknown
no credit

Perched on a ledge that sits closer to the Atlantic than its neighbors, this home has incredible views from three sides. At just under an acre, it includes a second lot abutting a small beach open only to the 80 families in the Greystone neighborhood. “The home definitely needs some work,’’ says listing agent Sarah Lubeck. Still, there’s an abundance of “architectural details of a bygone era.” With a bay window and gothic transoms over two of the four doorways leading to it, the living room is the Katharine Hepburn of parlors, still elegant and beautiful into its 80s. The front door, topped with a fanlight, is impressive, with great old brass locks. The staircase is graceful. The master suite, with a small sitting room and bath, has a fireplace and, of course, more views. Two patios, one off the living room and the other off the kitchen, provide the space to take it all in. The details given above include an in-law apartment with one bedroom and bath.

Sarah Lubeck and Abby Rausch, Harborside Sotheby's International Realty, 781-267-3918,


What $3 million gets you in the city

Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to