Where’s the Parking?

Parking is a precious commodity in downtown Boston – whether you’re in the city to try a hip new restaurant, attend the premiere of a show or check out a long-awaited exhibit at one of our many fine museums. Most of us know the feeling of elation that comes from securing a coveted and convenient parking space, right near the venue, after a couple of trips around the block. When looking for a home in the city, though, many of my clients appreciate the convenience and security of knowing that parking will be readily available, safe and hassle-free. For most clients, particularly for empty nesters, parking is a high priority.

When listing condos in Boston, brokers will highlight parking as a key feature if it’s available.  When looking at MLS listing sheets, however, you need to read carefully and ask questions since “parking” can have different meanings.  To help you decode the variety of parking options associated with condo listings in the city, here’s a brief glossary:

  • Resident Permit Parking: Boston’s Resident Permit Parking Program is designed to give residents the opportunity for an on-street parking space in their neighborhood. Many of the parking spaces on Boston’s residential streets are regulated as “Resident Parking Only,” for which residents can secure a permit,  AT NO CHARGE,  after completing an application with an approved proof of residency. 
All neighborhoods in the city with designated resident parking spaces also have spaces marked as “Visitor Parking” and your guest may park in these spaces – albeit limited – without a permit. For details, go to the City of Boston website.
  • On-Street Parking: On-street parking is available for use by residents, guests, customers of local establishments and sometimes commercial vehicles.  On-street parking may also necessitate the use of meters during designated hours. It’s critical that you pay attention to city parking signs and regulations lest you will return to your vehicle with the dreaded “orange envelope” on your windshield and a ticket starting at $25, depending on the violation.
  • Rental Parking Available: Just as it reads, this means that you can rent a parking space, whether in a nearby garage or in the case of a brownstone, from an owner of a parking space nearby, most likely outdoors. The owner of the condo may have nothing to do with it or it may be a space the current owner leases, which a new owner could take over.
  • Deeded Parking: Some condos come with a parking space that has its own deed and is included with the price of the condo.  Be aware that the space can be located underneath the condo building (in a garage) or outdoors and in a vicinity anywhere from behind the condo building to next door to perhaps a couple of blocks away. You may also find a listing that features “parking available.” This may mean that the Seller is trying to sell the parking space separate from the condo or that the parking space is actually owned by someone else other than the condo owner.  If the latter is the case, this may require a separate negotiation altogether, for sale or for rent.
  • Exclusive Right to Use: Some condos come with a parking space that does not have a separate deed. It may be a designated parking space, but it goes with the condo and cannot be sold apart from the residence. The unit deed may reference an exclusive right to use and this is different from a separately deeded parking space.
  • Direct Access Parking:  If you have direct access parking, it means that you can access the condo building directly from the parking space; you don’t have to go around the block and enter your condo through the front door. When searching for a condo with parking in Boston, this would be the preferred option, if there is no garage parking. It offers the easiest way to get from your car into your condo building and vice versa, and if a full space, it’s even better.  Not only is it more convenient to get in and out of your parking space at your convenience, but it eliminates the need to juggle keys and cars with neighborhoods. This type of parking space is preferred hands down to tandem parking.
  • Courtesy of Zillow

    Tandem Parking:  A tandem parking space, usually located on private property, means that one car is parked directly behind another in a designated parking space. This is most likely to be an exclusive right to use one of the parking spaces (inner or outer) or perhaps both. This type of parking requires dealing with another owner because cars may need to be moved daily. Typically, owners give each other keys or make arrangements to accommodate their schedules. While this is not the preferred type of parking, it’s not uncommon, and it’s definitely better than no parking!

  • Garage Parking: Garage parking comes in different varieties. It can be deeded and designated (with a specific parking space) or not. It can be an exclusive right to use a garage parking space. The condominium building can have a garage underneath, which is more common in larger mid- or high-rise luxury buildings, or it can be at a garage nearby.  For example, some Back Bay residents may own a space in the Danker & Donohue Garage on Newbury Street or Beacon Hill residents may own a garage parking space at the Brimmer Street or Charles Street garage. While some brownstones may have a garage underneath the building, this is not that common and, of course, it is reflected in the price of the condo.
  • Valet Parking: The luxury and convenience of valet parking, where you simply pull up to your building or into the garage and turn your keys over to a hired party who will park your vehicle securely, is unrivaled. When you’re ready to head out, a phone call will ensure your car is brought to your building’s entrance and is waiting for you with the door open.  This premium parking comes with a premium price, as part of or separate from the monthly condo fee, and is offered at some of the city’s full-service, high-rise condos such as The Boston W, The Ritz, Battery Wharf and Trinity Place, among others. You can be assured that the valet attendants in these buildings are well insured and knowledgeable about nearly every make and model of cars and their quirks, including after market alarm systems and keyless ignitions.

The availability of parking options that suit your needs may very well dictate the type and location of properties to consider during your search for a new condo in Boston.  I’m well versed in the gamut and would be delighted to show you new spaces in the city for both you and your car.