First Resale Flip at 1850 Lofts

With talk of the Nouvelle at Natick condo auction scheduled for October 4, 2009, the 1850 lofts auction that took place in late June 2009 almost seems like it is in the distant past (see Buyers Prepare for 1850 Condo Auction). It was June 28, 2009 when the 1850, a South End loft-style condo development, went to auction selling out the remaining 35 units in the building, and it was in August that units in the building actually closed.

On August 7, 2009, unit 511, a 780 square foot loft closed at a purchase price of $325,000.  Unit 511 was one of the 35 units sold at the 1850 auction, with a price per square foot of $417, well below the average price per square foot sales price of $582 in the South End during 2009.  Fast forward just over one month, and unit 511 is now listed as a resale in the 1850, and represents the first flip in the building, pre or post auction.

Coupled with the presence of a deeded onsite parking space, sold at a flat $35,000 each during the auction, unit 511 represents a quick flip of an auction property without the large profit expectations some flippers had following the last downtown Boston condo auction at the Broadluxe (see Flip That Condo at Broadluxe).

Laconia Lofts South End Open House

Laconia Lofts is one of the South End’s most sought after loft-style condo developments in the SOWA (south of Washington) area. Constructed in 2000, the lofts were originally unfinished when sold, and each has taken on a unique flair, comprising a dazzling set of unique spaces.

Unit 223 is a 2,116 square foot 3 bedroom 3 bathroom corner unit that boasts custom architecture, numerous upgrades, huge windows, and a single deeded garage parking space. The unit is priced at $1,199,000 ($567 per square foot), and has monthly HOA condo fees of $706.

The 99-unit development is capped by a common roof deck with stunning city views. An open house will take place at 1180-1200 Washington Street Unit 223 on Sunday, August 23, 2009 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.

Laconia Lofts Unit 223

Laconia Lofts Roof Deck

FP3 Boston Lofts Lower Prices on Several Condos

As Bostonians push through what has now become a hot summer in downtown Boston, FP3, a 92-unit loft-style condo development in the Seaport District recently dropped prices on several units in an effort to continue driving sales.

Earlier this week, two of the six units that represent the Seaport District condo development in MLSpin, one of Boston’s two MLS systems, were lowered in price by approximately 6%.  Unit 203, a 659 square foot condo representative of the studio units in the building was lowered to $329,000, and unit 218, a 1,183 square foot unit was reduced to $549,000.  These latest price movements bring some units on the lower floors of the development into the $400 price per square foot range.

FP3 has held its certificate of occupancy since late 2008, and Buyers are able to immediately move into units upon purchase.  According to LINK, Boston’s second MLS system, 21 of the 92 units in the building have been sold (23%).

Sales Spike at FP3 Boston

FP3, a large-scale new construction and redevelopment building in the heart of Boston’s Seaport District, has seen a spike in sales during the month of July.  Three units have sold in July, practically doubling the total 2009 unit sold count to 7.  Sales statistics for the 3 condos represent a trending upward in average sales price and price per square foot.

Average Sales Price: $455,547
Median Sales Price: $426,640
Average $/SF: $472

The spike in sales may have been attributed to several price adjustments that took place in the April 2009 timeframe  Furthermore, the increase in average sales prices and price per square foot in the face of price reductions can mainly be attributed to previous statistics being heavily influenced by the recording of affordable housing sales in the building.

LINK, one of Boston’s two MLS systems, shows that 20 units have sold at FP3 Boston, which represents approximately 22% of the building.  In addition to FP3, there are approximately 10 other condos for sale in the Seaport District, priced from $589,000 to $3,100,000 in Channel Center, Fort Point Place, and Dockside Place, all of which are loft-style condo buildings.

FP3 Boston

FP3 Boston

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.

True Back Bay Lofts

We oftentimes get questions from condo buyers about what loft style condo options there are in the Back Bay.  Boston’s Back Bay is considered one of the most premier and desirable neighborhoods to call home, and historical rowhouses and ornate townhomes dominate the tree lined streets.  That said, finding a trendy loft-style condo in the heart of the Back Bay is naturally difficult.

Buyers won’t be able to find a classic exposed brick and beam loft-style condo in the Back Bay, it’s just not really an option.  What condo buyers do have access to is 360 Newbury, which represents probably the most modern and contemporary living option in the Back Bay, and gets you the closest to Back Bay lofts. From the entrance (picture below), and up through the elevator ride to the units with big windows and big views, 360 Newbury exudes the hip, slightly edgy, but luxurious feel of loft-style living.

Turnover in the 54-unit building is relatively low, however, there are currently four units available for sale at 360 Newbury, two one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units, ranging in size from 869 to 1,626 square feet, and in price from $699,000 to $1,599,000.


Latest Sales at FP3 Boston

We’ve been receiving inquiries related to the latest sales at FP3.  Over the past 6 months, according to LINK (which does a scan of the Registry of Deeds on a regular basis), the only units that have closed in the building have been the affordable housing units.  Condo developers, by choice, opt-in to the affordable housing program sponsored by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). FP3 participated in the affordable housing program, and units deemed affordable went to a lottery and since have closed – no further affordable housing options are available at FP3.

On the market-rate front, list prices were lowered on several units this week.  For instance, unit 311, an 850 square foot one-bedroom one-bathroom was reduced from $489,000 to $449,000, unit 205, a 1,031 square foot one-bedroom two-bathroom unit was reduced from $599,000 to $499,000, and unit 215, a 1,382 square foot two-bedroom two-bathroom unit was reduced from $719,000 to $699,000.  According to LINK, 16 of the 92 loft-style condos at FP3 have sold (17%).

FP3 Boston Lofts

FP3 Boston Condos

First Resale at the Modern

Following the last closing at the Modern, a 25-unit condo development that opened in 2007, that took place in August 2008, Buyer are only now seeing the first resale condo available for sale in the building.  Unit 203, a 1,000 square foot one-bedroom one-bathroom unit was listed for sale in late January 2009, and recently underwent a $10,000 price reduction, bringing its list price to $479,000 (approximately $479 per square foot).

The unit is well equipped, with some additional upgrades, including a Bosch washer / dryer, custom Hunter Douglas blinds, custom closet system, small private terrace, and one garage parking space.  The Seller is offering six months of condo fees as an incentive to purchase, which equates to a $1,455 credit at the closing table.

Perhaps the one negative aspect to the south-facing unit (see floorplan 147 KB PDF) is that it overlooks the adjacent gas station.  The building itself is elevator-served, has a large common roofdeck, and there are still plans on the table to do a second phase of the development sometime in the future.

Modern South End 203

Exclusive Broadluxe Auction Interview

Monday marked the completion of developer unit sales at Broadluxe, which represents one of the shortest building sales cycles in some time.   We had the chance to catch up with Brecht Palombo, Broker and Auctioneer of Tranzon Auction Properties, who played an integral role in the auction of Broadluxe, and post auction sales coordination. Broadluxe, a 44-unit loft-style condo development in the heart of the Financial District, was brought to auction on June 21, 2008 after a short marketing blitz.  The event was the most significant Boston condo auction of 2008, and was considered a success by many after Tranzon was able to sell 60%+ of the property on auction day, as well as making quick work of the remaining units for sale in the building post auction.

Can you tell us a little about Tranzon and your role with the firm?

Brecht Palombo: Tranzon is the premier national network of independently operated real estate auction firms. Tranzon Auction Properties operates throughout New England with a headquarters in Portland Maine and with my offices in Lexington Massachusetts. My team in Lexington is responsible for driving new business relationships in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut and we service all of the southern New England auction business that’s written out of our headquarters.

How were you involved in the Broadluxe auction process?

Brecht Palombo: I was intimately involved with every aspect of the Broadluxe auction process starting with communicating with the developer when he was in default back before any real foreclosure proceedings began, through every aspect of the foreclosure auction, then through every aspect of the REO auction and finally I handled all of the negotiated sales of the remaining units after the auction. I worked with the lender, debtor, and lender’s counsel at Riemer and Braunstein etc. I was deeply involved.

What were some of the main factors that contributed to deciding when the auction took place, how long the property was open to the public before the auction, and the mechanisms by which you marketed and promoted the sale?

Brecht Palombo: The client determines when an auction takes place based on their business needs. The campaign lasted 27 days. The auction process is about controlling time and terms. The auction marketing process involves a broad, deep, and rapid exposure to the market on a very condensed time frame. In this case we relied heavily on technology, specifically a variety of online marketing initiatives, to promote the sale.

Was the auction considered a success, and if so, why?

Brecht Palombo: Absolutely. An auction is about a rapid recovery of capital. This campaign recovered two-thirds of appraised value in the first 30 days and recovered a total of 93% of the appraised value in 180 days according to the lender’s own internal documents. I’d point out that the appraisals we are working from were done in April/May of 2008, and Boston condo prices in this area have fallen during that time.

What was the biggest surprise that you ran into on auction day?

Brecht Palombo: There weren’t too many surprises but I guess I would say that what we saw was a number of successful bidders decided on the spot that they wanted to buy more than one unit and they weren’t prepared. We had to work with our client to accommodate them but I don’t think our flat-footedness on this item was apparent to bidders and it did allow us to sell several more units at the auction.

Broadluxe Lofts - Boston Financial District Condos

You’ve had listing experience (for individual homes), how much faster do you think the auction process and ensuing post-auction sales process sold these units versus the sales center approach we typically see in Boston?

Brecht Palombo: You folks may be better at answering that question than I am. How long would it take to bring a 44-unit building to market from zero to sold out in 2008? We sold 66% in 30 days, 80% in 90 days, and finished them off in less than 180 days. Have you seen any other new projects sell out in 6 months?

What was the reaction of the broker and agent community to the auction, and how do you think that those constituencies helped or hurt the auction?

Brecht Palombo: The reaction was mixed. I think some agents chose to ignore the project for whatever reason but there were a small number of agents who were very active and sold a number of units . MLS rules and regulations forbid us from entering every auction we conduct in the system but we almost always encourage broker participation unless our client forbids it, even then we’ll push back. We believe that embracing the brokerage community is in the best interest of our sellers. Brokers definitely contributed to our success.

What was one of the biggest lessons learned from the Broadluxe sales process?

Brecht Palombo: When we were first going to bring these units to market there was a lot of internal debate about how to get people there. There are a variety of methods at an auctioneer’s disposal. In the end we decided to go with guaranteed-sold published minimum bids. This meant that if you showed up and bid you were guaranteed a sale unless you were outbid. Our numbers were good for that day only. As I look at the success and failure rates of the various condo auctions over the last year, I think it’s pretty clear the bidding public approves of this message.

Do you foresee further development-level auctions (in Boston) similar to Broadluxe in 2009?

Brecht Palombo: Well we sure hope so… but if you’re asking if I see more lenders and developers embracing the auction process to eliminate inventory in 2009 the answer is a resounding yes.