When Michelle Easter says, “We’ve been cooking,’’ she’s not talking about what goes on in the high-end kitchens typically found in her listings. She’s talking about the sizzling downtown Boston market.
The number of $3 million-plus sales in downtown neighborhoods continues to increase, from a total of 73 in 2014 to 117 in 2015 and 178 in 2016, according to figures her firm, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, compiled.
“You have new construction that’s presold before it’s even constructed,’’ said Easter, vice president of the Boston firm. “Even if you take those projects out, resale prices have gone up. It really is because of lack of inventory. We have a lot of companies coming into Boston, and we have high, high demand.’’
And though January is usually slow in the suburbs, that’s not the case downtown.
“This is the time of the year when a lot of people who are in financial services identify their bonuses,’’ said John Neale, a broker/owner at Sprogis & Neale Real Estate in the South End. He recently sold four homes, most of them for full asking price, after they had sat awhile. “It was like bang, bang, bang, bang. We have so many financial services people in the city of Boston, and that’s how they get paid. They have a nice salary, too, but they get these whopping bonuses. People make decisions around this time of year.’’
Michael Doherty, partner/broker at Citylife Real Estate on Newbury Street, agreed.
“Typically there’s a pop, spike, or increase in demand in January,’’ Doherty said. “It’s almost like a New Year’s resolution. ‘Honey, let’s make the move.’ It tapers off and then it picks back up in the spring. Typically it’s a lot of new buyers coming into the market in January.’’
For each of the past two years, Address has looked at what $3 million buys in Boston. This time, we decided to look at other communities and have included a property in Newton, which, although it is not the city, is a city. There, things are definitely slower at the $3 million price point.
“The [Newton] market is a little bit saturated at this price point,’’ said Sandra Lynch, a senior associate with Hammond Residential Real Estate in Chestnut Hill. “There’s quite a bit of choice for buyers. A lot of the inventory has not yet been absorbed. We didn’t really have much of a high-end fall market here, the spring market is always more active, but anything below $2 million really flew. It’s all very cyclical. We anticipate that the $2.5 million-plus price point will start popping.’’
While $3 million is considered mid-high-end in Boston, it’s “definitely the high end in Newton,’’ Lynch said. “There aren’t too many properties that go beyond the $4 million range.’’
That said, pull up a chair and take a look at what you can buy for $3 million in a city:
188 Brookline Ave., Unit 19A
Year built Under construction
Square footage 1,852
Baths 2 full, 1 half
Fee $1,644 per month (estimated)
Taxes $29,000 (estimated)
Last sold for First time on market
If you’ve been to Fenway Park lately, surely you’ve noticed the glass building ascending on the triangular sliver of land at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street. Pierce Boston — named for the way it will puncture the sky — will be 30 stories tall, with 109 condos, 240 rental apartments, and retail and restaurant space. About 40 percent of the condos, ranging from $900,000 to $6 million, have already sold. Each unit will have floor-to-ceiling windows. With a southwest exposure, the unit featured here will allow you to watch the sunset over the Charles River. Other features include 10-foot ceilings, high-end appliances, wide-plank oak floors, and a gas fireplace. The top floor will be home to Levity Lounge, with a rooftop deck featuring a gas fireplace and pool, a kitchen and dining room with a glass floor that can be rented for private affairs, and a library. The building will have a doorman, 24-hour concierge, a fitness facility, yoga studio, garage parking, in-house car detailing, bike storage, and a dog spa with washing area. It is scheduled to open next year.
Sales Gallery, The Collaborative Companies, 617-670-1880, www.pierceboston.com
481 Harrison Ave., Unit 4D
SoWa Art & Design District, South End
Year built 1916/converted 2016
Square footage 2,160
Baths 3 full, 1 half
Fee $1,313 per month
Taxes $24,000 (2017 estimate)
Last sold for First time on market
Once a stable and warehouse for Jordan Marsh, the newly renovated Jordan Lofts building has a contemporary vibe. Architect David J. Hacin, who designed the project and selected everything from the light fixtures to the door handles, remilled wood from the original building and put it to striking use as beams in the lobby. Seven of the 12 units, located on the third, fourth, and fifth floors, have sold. This corner unit has a big kitchen with a massive island offering abundant storage. It’s open to the living room, with large windows and views toward the two Hancock buildings. The master suite and a small den are on one side of the unit; two bedrooms with en-suite baths are on the other. There’s also a pantry and in-unit laundry. Each unit has one deeded parking space in the basement garage. Custom works by South End artists grace the building’s halls and lobby. A concierge is on duty Monday through Saturday. “This neighborhood is hot right now,’’ said listing broker Michael Doherty. Whole Foods, restaurants, and, of course, art galleries are nearby.
Michael Doherty, Citylife Real Estate, 617-262-9500, www.citylifeboston.com
88 Lambert Ave.
Fort Hill, Roxbury
Year built 1794
Lot size 0.65 acre
Square footage 3,720 (main house)/10,744 (total)
Bedrooms 7 (main house)/8 (total)
Baths 5 full (main house)/6 full, 1 half (total)
Taxes $9,138 (2017)
Last sold for $451,000 in 2002
Built by a Boston merchant, Captain William Lambert, near the top of Fort Hill, this home and the land around it are sprawling by city standards. “It really is an old estate,’’ said listing broker John Neale. “The main house is extremely old. It’s got to be one of the older houses in the city.’’ The property includes the house, as well as a 1,392-square-foot carriage house now used as office space, an unheated studio/garage space, and three other garage structures with 34 parking spaces total. With two kitchens, the main house is currently rented out as individual rooms, but many features remain that are original or part of a later, but still old, expansion: moldings, large windows, and decorative fireplaces that have a combination of Belgian black and Italian Portoro marble surrounds. Neale assumes the buyer will be a developer. Most “want to restore the house as either one or two units and add . . . town houses. They all agree that the house should be the centerpiece. Everybody knows they really can’t tear it down. The neighborhood would go berserk.’’
John Neale and Bradford Sprogis, Sprogis & Neale Real Estate, 617-262-1504, www.sprogisneale.com
65 East India Row, Unit 38FG
Year built 1972
Square footage 2,901
Baths 3 full, 1 half
Fee $2,795 per month
Taxes $23,361 (2017)
Last sold for First time on market as currently configured
After living here at Harbor Towers for a few years, the owners decided to buy the unit next door and create one large condo. You’ll find lots of built-in bookcases and cabinetry, crown molding, a laundry room with plenty of storage, and a master suite with two huge dressing rooms, two baths, and a sitting room. “They did not spare any detail,’’ said Michelle Easter, the listing broker. But given that it’s on the water and 38 stories up, the best detail has to be the views from so many rooms: the Harbor Islands, Custom House, Charles River, and more. There are also two balconies: one off the living room, the other off the sitting room. Harbor Towers has an outdoor heated pool and 24-hour concierge. “At just over $1,000 a square foot, this is a great value compared to other waterfront communities,’’ Easter said. The current owners rent at the Harbor Garage and also have an additional space they could sell for $100,000.
Michelle Easter, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, 617-990-2209, www.harbortowersboston-condo.com
65 Bellevue St.
Year built 1887
Square footage 5,415
Baths 3 full, 2 half
Taxes $31,889 (2017)
Last sold for $2,750,000 in 2009
This 15-room Victorian in Newton has incredible old-house features, from a quartersawn oak fireplace in the foyer and a massive marble one in the living room, to a beautiful stained-glass window in the wide stairwell — which is also graced with substantial wainscot and a pretty newel post — to an uncommon panel configuration on the doors. Even on a gray day, the house feels filled with light, thanks to large windows and plenty of them. The kitchen has white cabinetry and thick Carrara marble counters. Bedrooms are up on the second and third floors. The second-floor landing is so generous that the owners outfitted it with built-ins and desks to create a study area for their children. “It doesn’t really have a sexy, luxurious master suite, so you could combine a couple of rooms and really make a phenomenal master suite,’’ said listing broker Sandra Lynch. The third floor also has a family room, while the finished basement offers a great laundry room. At 0.59 of an acre, the yard is big, too.
Karen Kennedy and Sandra Lynch, The Kennedy Lynch Team, Hammond Residential Real Estate, 617-731-4644, www.kennedy-lynch-team.myhammondagent.com
Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to Address@globe.com.