Bryant Back Bay Condo Auction, Again

It was almost one year to the day when the Bryant Back Bay hosted its first condo auction to reestablish market pricing for the luxury South End / Back Bay units and jump start further sales, and the public now gets a second crack at it.  In October 2009, 10 luxury condos at the Bryant were auctioned at approximately $674 per square foot, and now, the remaining 11 units in the building are being brought to auction on Sunday, November 7, 2010 with an average minimum bid at $592 per square foot.

Since the 2009 condo auction at the Bryant, the building has undergone a significant lobby renovation, beautifying both the interior and exterior.  As well, it’s arguable that there is now significantly less risk buying into, what is essentially, a sold out building – buyers in this final auction will not be faced with significant concessions in equity and price point with which, for example, early owners at Nouvelle at Natick were faced (see Nouvelle at Natick Condo Auction Results).

Bryant Back Bay Auction Pricing

Accelerated Marketing Partners, LLC is welcoming potential buyers at an open house preview of available units in the building (303 Columbus Avenue Boston, MA 02116) through November 6, 2010 with hours that include, Wednesday–Friday, 12pm–5:30pm, and Saturday–Sunday, 12pm–4pm. 

The auction event itself will take place on Sunday, November 7, 2010 at the Colonnade Hotel located at 120 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02116.

Bryant Back Bay

Bryant Back Bay Condo Auction Results

Sold. On a crisp fall day at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay , the second much anticipated downtown Boston condo auction of 2009 took place in front of a group of poised bidders and their real estate professionals.  The market waited patiently for less than an hour to see what the results would show for the first large-scale Back Bay condo auction of the decade.

10 units at the 50-unit Bryant Back Bay high-end condo development on the border of the Back Bay and the South End were released by the developer for sale at auction, and were sold within 45 minutes of the auction commencing.  Bidders, each with a $20,000 certified check in hand, watched the auction process unfold in front of them.  The Bryant Back Bay is the fourth downtown Boston property to go to auction since 2006, following the Folio, Broadluxe, and the 1850 Lofts, and it is the first Back Bay property to partially go to auction this decade.

The development “partially” went to auction because there were approximately 45 units remaining for sale in the building before the auction began, the developer released 10 for sale at the auction event, and intends for the auction to set a market driven price for the remainder of units which will be sold at auction prices, but through a normal sales process.

The price point at which the developer was listing units for sale before the auction began was approximately $980 per square foot.  The auction was coordinated with minimum bids that averaged $597 per square foot.  The auction event itself resulted in the market setting an average price point of $675 per square foot, approximately 30% off original asking prices, and some $300,000 above minimum bid prices.

Download the full Bryant Back Bay Condo Auction Results (PDF 52 KB)

Accelerated Marketing Partners, the firm the Bryant’s developer hired to bring the property to auction, leveraged a similar tactic at the recent Nouvelle at Natick condo auction outside of Boston earlier this month, where they sold 43 units at auction prices, and used the newly established price point to drive further sales of remaining units at the development (see Nouvelle at Natick Condo Auction Results).  The Bryant Back Bay will leverage the auction results as a bell weather for eventually moving remaining units in the building to a sold status.

Colonnade Boston Hotel

Nouvelle at Natick Condo Auction Results

Over 400 potential Buyers crowded into a standing room only Crowne Plaza Natick Hotel to purchase 43 auction units and 12 additional post auction units at prices between 34% and 64% of their most recent asking prices.

The Nouvelle at Natick condo auction’s goal was to kick start sales at the troubled luxury condo development adjacent to the Natick Collection Mall, and despite the developer, General Growth Properties, not seeing the selling prices they would have liked, the auction brought the occupancy rate in the 215-unit building from 17% to approximately 43%, and more importantly, the market established a consumable price point of approximately $300 per square foot for remaining units.  The lowest purchase price at the auction was $249,000 for a 1 bedroom 1.5 bathroom condo, and the most expensive was $628,000 for a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom penthouse.

General Growth Properties, which has filed for bankruptcy because of the happenings at Nouvelle at Natick, looks to the auction to set a price point as established by the market, and is now poised to re-engage the market through a normal sales process on the remaining units, but at auction prices.  The plan has worked well so far, as 12 additional units, above and beyond the 43 brought to auction, sold yesterday following the auction.

The method will be tested again in the downtown Boston market when the Bryant is taken to auction (see Bryant Back Bay to Auction 10 Luxury Condos) in a similar fashion on October 17th – 10 units in the 50-unit development are slated for auction.  Similar to the Natick auction, the intent is to clear inventory, generate cash flow, and ultimately re-engage the buying market on remaining units (tentatively 35 units will remain for sale following the auction) in the luxury Back Bay / South End development.

Bryant Back Bay to Auction 10 Luxury Condos

After multiple project occupancy delays, changes in listing brokerages, and amongst rumors swirling this past week, the Bryant Back Bay condo auction has been announced by Accelerated Marketing Partners.  The auction event, slated for Saturday October 17th,  will offer 10 luxury floor-through direct elevator access units with minimum bids starting at $1,075,000.

Similar to the recently announced Nouvelle at Natick auction (see Nouvelle at Natick Condo Auction), the Bryant Back Bay, a somewhat boutique 50-unit development, is currently advertising that only 10 of its some 45 available units will be brought to auction, in an effort to eventually kick-start market sales of other units, a tactic that has not yet been tested in the downtown Boston market.

The property is available for previews September 22 – October 16 (Monday to Sunday noon – 6 PM) onsite at 303 Columbus Avenue Boston, MA 02116.

The auction will take place on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at the The Colonnade Hotel located in the Back Bay at 120 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02116.

Bryant Back Bay Auction

Nouvelle at Natick Condo Auction

General Growth Properties, the developer of the 215-unit luxury Nouvelle at Natick condo development west of downtown Boston, has turned to Accelerated Marketing Partners to auction off 43 of the Nouvelle residences on October 4, 2009 in an effort to kick-start new sales and provide operating cash flow to the bankrupt mall operator.

Nouvelle at Natick opened in 2008, and has sold or gone under agreement on 37 of the 215 available units (17%).  Minimum bids at auction will start at $160,000 (796 square foot 1 bedroom 1.5 bathroom), which is approximately 70 percent below the most recent asking prices.  In preparation for the auction on October 4th, a daily open house up until October 3, 2009 will take place onsite at 10 Nouvelle Way, Natick, MA 01760.

While it has not been announced that the entire inventory of remaining condos at Nouvelle at Natick will be up for auction, the development joins Longwood Towers as the second large-scale condo development just outside Boston to go to the auction block in 2009.  In downtown Boston, the 35 remaining lofts for sale at the South End’s 1850 condo development were auctioned in late June 2009 (see Buyers Prepare for 1850 Condo Auction).

Buyers Prepare for 1850 Condo Auction

Just over a year ago, Buyers and Investors had the opportunity to participate in the last downtown Boston condo auction at the Broadluxe (see Broadluxe Condo Auction Results).  On Sunday, June 28th, those interested in purchasing downtown Boston real estate will again have a chance to do so at auction prices when the 1850, a 60-unit loft-style condo development in the South End, goes to auction.

High Level Auction Information

  • What: 35 condos at the 1850 Lofts
  • Minimum Bids: $175,000 for some units
  • Auction Date: Sunday, June 28, 2009 with check in at noon
  • Auction Location: Westin Boston Waterfront (map)
  • Prerequisites: Auction Registration Form & $5,000 cash equivalent


Registration is required to attend the auction and to become eligible to bid. Interested bidders are encouraged to tour the 1850 prior to the auction (tours are available daily starting at 1pm at 90 Wareham Street in the South End), and during the visit complete and return the Auction Registration Form, which will qualify you to bid.  On auction day, all approved registered bidders must present a separate Cashier’s Check, Traveler’s Check, Certified Check or Money Order (“Cash Equivalent”) in the amount of $5,000 (Cash Equivalents should be made payable to yourself). Each bidder is also required to bring a blank personal check, which will be used to bring your total down payment to 5% of the winning bid price.

The auction has the potential to provide Buyers and Investors with a significant discount on price per square foot and average selling price in the South End.  Over the past 3 and 6 months respectively, the South End has seen modest price improvements across average and median prices, as well as price per square foot at the neighborhood level – see information below.

Last 3 Months – South End
Number of Condos Sold: 158
Average Selling Price: $594,727
Median Selling Price: $513,750
Average Price per Square Foot: $575
Average Days on Market: 94

Last 6 Months – South End
Number of Condos Sold: 225
Average Selling Price: $584,875
Median Selling Price: $510,000
Average Price per Square Foot: $568
Average Days on Market:  100

Bear in mind that the 1850 is located in one of the most southern points in the South End, and therefore, this fact and others may need to be accounted for when trying to draw price comparisons.  Contact your Buyer’s Agent for more information (note that a Buyer’s Agent must be present at the time of registration and first visit to the Auction Information Center in order to work with a Buyer).

Bidders should be warned that a condo auction bypasses many of the contingencies that a Buyer is afforded during a “typical” real estate transaction.  It should be noted that proper due diligence, including inspection of the property as well as other items standard in a transaction (including consultation with a real estate attorney) should still be conducted, however, these items need to be conducted ahead of the auction and by the Bidder.  Bear in mind that a Purchase and Sale Agreement, typically signed after a fair amount of du diligence is done, will be signed on auction day by winning Bidders.

1850 South End

Is Condo Auction Pace Quickening?

It was almost a year ago to the day that Bostonians saw their last downtown condo auction take place at the Broadluxe on June 21, 2008. Prior to that, roughly two years had gone by since the last downtown Boston condo development auction at Folio was used to clear out inventory at the Financial District luxury development.  And now, with the June 28, 2009 auction at the South End’s 1850 loft-style condo development taking place, this may be a sign that the large-scale condo auction market is heating up.

Boston Broadluxe Auction June 2008

Brecht recently stated that there may be a chance for increased auction activity over the next 24-36 months (see 441 Stuart Street: What Happened?), and it appears that prediction is coming true in the form of another residential downtown Boston real estate auction now with the 1850.

The 1850 is a condo development that has been developed over the past several years, gone through a name change (formerly known as SoHa Lofts), has been marketed for sale for well over a year, and open to residents in mid-2008.  Both the Folio and Broadluxe auctions were successful in quickly clearing remaining inventory and paying off creditors, and the 1850, while some would argue has a less desirable location, is positioned to be on the same trajectory.

Willing to Sell Your Condo at Auction?

Over the past calendar year, there has been one condo auction that has taken place in Boston, at Broadluxe in June of 2008, and one just outside Boston, at Longwood Towers in April of 2009. 

These condo auctions were brought to market on behalf of institutional investors, those who owned the entire development.  Public auction as a selling mechanism has yet to take hold with individual condo owners, but is this a concept that will gain further momentum?

Crowdsourcing, the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an individual employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call, is a concept that has gained significant momentum over the past several years.  Especially in the wake of Threadless, a company that allows the general public to design and vote on what t-shirts the company produces and sells (and which, by they way, consistently sell out).  Is the concept of letting the consumer decide something that can transcend the housing market, via an auction?

Voice your opinion on whether you think such an auction concept has merit in the Boston condo market.

Would you sell your condo via a public auction?

If you could control the timing and minimum bid how likely would you be to use an online auction service to sell your property?

441 Stuart Street: What Happened?

This week, the building at 441 Stuart Street was offered to the public through a foreclosure auction. The property was most recently purchased in 2004 for $37.5MM with the intent of converting the building to condominiums.

441 Stuart Street Boston, MA 02116

Recorded documents show that Corus Bank, a well-known condo conversion lender out of Chicago, placed $42MM in debt on the property in 2004. Corus Bank had received a “going concern” qualification from Ernst & Young, since then the bank has indicated that it is no longer “well capitalized” and the CEO has since announced resignation. Indications today are that it is very likely that Corus will fail in the very near term.

I’d estimate that there were 120 +/- attendees at the auction and I knew a number of the attendees who are high profile local developers. As I looked for bidders cards, I found eight. Manning, however, reported in another publication that there were 22 bidders. That’s a believable number, we had about the same at the foreclosure auction at the Broadluxe. The auctioner opened at $30MM and asked if there were any bids. There were not. Next he cut the bid in half and asked for $15MM, and the bids that followed were $15.1MM, $16MM, $16.1MM, and finally $17MM. There was only one 3rd party who bid the $15.1 and $16.1 against the bank. The lender bought the property back at $17MM.

Nevermind the fact that the highest 3rd party bid for the property was less than 40% of the known debt, consider the fact that the number represents only about $100/foot. Remember that this property is in Copley Square. If retail prices for completed condos are $600-900/SF and construction costs run $150-250 per foot then that’s a margin of 40% or better – isn’t it?

Where this market ends up remains to be seen, but one thing for certain is that we’re not out of the woods by a long shot. In fact we’re probably heading into the woods.  Expect to see more auctions and more foreclosures on substantial properties like this as we move through the next 24-36 months. Developers and investors who act during this window will be the ones talked about and envied at the top of the next peak…  just like those who bought in the early 90s and sold in the last few years.

Fannie Guidelines Drive Boston Condo Auction Activity

New Fannie Mae condo guidelines present a new significant hurdle to sales for Boston condo developers. In the face of these hurdles and with increasingly less patient lenders it is likely that the Boston area will see more condo auctions in 2009. The Wall Street Journal reports a summary of the changes:

“The government-backed mortgage-finance company stopped guaranteeing mortgages in condo buildings where fewer than 70% of the units have been sold, up from 51%. In addition, the company won’t back loans for sales in buildings where 15% of current owners are delinquent on association fees or where more than 10% of units are owned by a single-entity…The new policy became effective March 1, and most lenders have started to implement Fannie’s guidelines.”

In my business I work mainly with lenders and attorneys. Except in cases where developers have failed (often repeatedly) to reach the prescribed milestones, lenders to this point have been very generous with extensions and have been inclined to work with developers through slower than expected sales. Lately, as pressure has been mounting, I’m hearing about a lot less patience. Until this fall it was easy to be optimistic that something would happen and sales would improve in a relatively short time but the fact is that today most of the people I’m talking to are now expecting a longer down cycle than they may have previously.

After just two short months we’ll be able to assess the spring market and whether or not its made a significant impact on inventory. While there are some positive signs in the residential market, many lenders will be unable or unwilling to extend construction loans without some concrete evidence of forward motion. If Fannie’s new rules stifle that motion over these next two months, you can count on a spate of condo auctions through the second half of the year.