Neighborhood Snapshot: Midtown

Boston’s Midtown consists of three distinct neighborhoods: the Financial District, Government Center, and Downtown Crossing. It’s the hub of Boston’s business world and a highly desirable area to live for those looking for an easy commute and all of the city’s amenities within easy reach. As life returns to “normal” and employers welcome employees back to the office, I imagine this neighborhood will pick up right where it left off in terms of desirability. Let’s take a look at the lifestyle options and market dynamics.

Buildings to Know

The Ritz

Image via Google

The Ritz name is synonymous with luxury. The five-star amenities and elegant design of the residences at the Boston Ritz truly live up to that expectation. It’s centrally located with views of the Boston Common and Back Bay on one side and the Boston Harbor on the other side. Units vary as owners may have upgraded or renovated since purchased, but many have floor to ceiling windows and come with valet parking. Building amenities include on-call maintenance, maid service, room service, access to the Ritz-Carlton pool, Equinox Fitness Center and many other luxury amenities. And, there are restaurants and theatre within easy reach.

Millennium Tower

Image via Google

The Filene’s in Downtown Crossing was a landmark in the city for so long. Now, Millennium Tower rose in its place making it the 4th tallest building and offering views never before seen from a residence in the city. The definition of luxury, Millennium Tower residences boast state of the art kitchens, hardwood flooring, oversized washer/dryers, floor to ceiling windows, and of course, those absolutely breathtaking views. Amenities include the owners lounge with private bar, restaurant, gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, rain showers in the locker rooms, spa treatment facilities, a 24/7 concierge, security, and garage valet parking.

45 Province

Image via Google

Ultra-modern, ultra-cool and there is an Exhale Spa inside. Need I say more? Ok maybe a bit more. It’s located right off of the Boston Common allowing easy access to almost every point in Boston. Plus, there are other impressive amenities such as the outdoor pool, 33rd story roof deck, fitness center, and media room.

The Sudbury

Image via Google

This highly anticipated building is the newest on the list as it just welcomed residents at the end of 2020. It’s a high contrast from the enormous parking garage that once straddled Congress Street and virtually every unit has an exceptional view. Every unit boasts beautiful finishes, massive windows as well as oversized bedrooms and living areas, a fireplace, another detail that is unique for luxury high-rises in Boston. The entire 9th floor of the Sudbury is dedicated to luxury amenities for building residents that includes: Rooftop Garden and Sky Terrace, Concierge/Hospitality Services, Pool, Fitness Center, Sky Lounge, Pet Spa, Golf Simulator, Yoga Room and Garage Parking.

Millennium Place

Image via Website

In the same corridor as The Ritz and not to be confused with Millennium Tower, this full-service luxury building offers a private owners’ lounge featuring a full bar (5pm-11pm), food service from Legal Crossing, screening room, resident fitness center, private dining, yoga studio and much more!

Market Snapshot

No surprise that the average sale price and price per square foot have dropped this past year (-33% and 14% respectively), likely attributable to the pandemic and perhaps the collection of the specific properties sold. If you’re considering a move to this neighborhood, now is a good time as prices may be more attractive and there may be more negotiability.

Average Sale Price:
$2,143,478 (2020) vs. $1,434,944 (2021)
Average Sale $ / SqFt:
$1,246 (2020) vs. $1,067 (2021)

On the Market

Click the photo below to view a collection of available properties in Midtown.

For a deeper dive into this area or to set up a showing, contact me!

How to Create an Outdoor Oasis

If you are among the lucky ones to have private outdoor space in the city, let this blog serve as inspiration on how to style and breathe new life into the space to create an outdoor oasis.

Greenery

Faux, plants, garden, or all of the above? There are so many ways to bring nature into your outdoor space amidst the concrete jungle. I personally like the dimension in the photo below. You can create something similar on a smaller scale in your space by using plants with different heights, shapes, and colors.

Image via Pinterest

Privacy

Sometimes we just want to unwind at the end of a long day removed from the hustle and bustle of city life taking place below or around us. That’s where a privacy screen comes into play. There are so many options available from green walls, room dividers, teak or plastic to help give you that peace you need.

Image via Wayfair

Add Texture

Incorporating different elements helps to create an interesting outdoor space. The photo below has different textural elements such as the deck wood tiles and furry chair throw that infuse the owner’s personality into the space while remaining visually appealing to the masses.

Image via The Spruce

Bring in Color

Neutrals are great, but your patio/balcony/terrace is THE place to show off your colorful side. Deep greens, pinks, yellows, etc. Have fun with it as these items tend to be on the less expensive side and it’s easy enough to update cushion covers or accents such as the chair in the photo below without breaking the bank.

Image via Decoist

How do you style your outdoor space? Post a pic and tag me @frannbilus!

Relocation Tips

The pandemic completely revolutionized the way we work and where and how we live. People are now able to mobilize and explore different locations while keeping their current employment status as they are no longer tied to living within a certain proximity to the office. According to a survey by CNBC, 31% of young adults relocated during COVID. Examples of this are city dwellers who moved to the suburbs and the uptick of new residents in states such as Florida and Texas. If you’re contemplating a relocation, read through for some helpful tips.

Plan a Visit

This is critical. On paper, a place may seem like the perfect fit for you, but when you arrive the vibe could be off. I’m certain there are people who blindly migrated to a new city and it worked out fabulous, but planning and preparation are key for most successful relocations.

Discover Personal and Professional Connections

Never underestimate the value of your personal and professional connections. Start talking about it with your friends, colleagues, etc. You are sure to encounter one, if not more, people who will have a friend or a friend of a friend you can connect with so you start building your network before your move.

Consider the Short and Long Term Expenses

It’s important to calculate your moving costs, new rent or mortgage payment, cost of living where you live, etc. and plan accordingly to help ensure the process is as smooth and seamless as possible.

Find an Advisor to Help You in Your New Home Search

My real estate philosophy in general, but especially with a relocation, is that you need a lifestyle advisor who brings thoughtful analysis, honesty and integrity to the table so you can make the best-informed decisions and act with confidence. Whether you are relocating from the city to the ‘burbs, out of state, or even internationally, I will help you assess how to achieve your goals. My expertise lies in Boston/Greater Boston area, but my vast network allows me to connect you with the right match in your desired location and be an advisory resource every step along the way.

Considering relocating? Contact me and let’s set up a complimentary consultation.

Suburban Spotlight: Lexington

Since we celebrated Patriot’s Day last week, I thought it would be fitting to highlight the historically rich town of Lexington. Located 10 miles from Boston, this suburb was where one of the first shots of the Revolutionary War was fired. Today, it’s an affluent suburb and main stay on “Top Places to Live” lists.

Things to Do

Lexington Common

Explore the rich history of the town at the site where the first battle of the American Revolution took place. You can also visit the Old Burying Ground and the Old Belfry where the alarm sounded calling the militia to battle.

Explore the Robust Downtown

Historical houses and architecture meets today in this quaint downtown full of restaurants and shops. Perfect for strolling with family.

Dining

The dining scene deserved its own paragraph. Some of the top rated restaurants include Mario’s, il Casale, Town Meeting Bistro, and Love at First Bite Thai Kitchen.

Market Snapshot

A tale that’s all too familiar in 2021, homes in the suburbs are selling faster and sale price is up significantly over last year. Rich history, stellar school system, and proximity to Boston and highways have always made Lexington a desirable suburb to buy in and that reputation is standing strong into the foreseeable future. If you know anyone thinking of selling in Lexington, now is a great time to strike given the high demand for single-family homes.

Average Sale Price: $1,671,930.14 (+23.21%)
Average Days on Market: 50 (-39.76%)

On the Market

Click the photo below to view a collection of available properties in Lexington.

If you’re considering buying, selling, or both in Lexington, contact me and let’s talk about the value of working together.

Small Space Solutions: Dining

City living comes with smaller spaces. It’s very rare to have a full-blown room dedicated to dining, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a dining area that works for your lifestyle. Let’s explore some solutions to maximize space and functionality.

Think Vertical

Image via Google

Take advantage of wall space and hang vertical shelves that can serve as a mini buffet to store dishes, glassware, etc.

Multi-Purpose Space/Furniture

Image via Pinterest

Believe it or not, there are a number of multi-purpose options on the market. Pictured is a console/dining table from Crate & Barrel. There are also coffee tables that turn into dining tables, murphy-style dining tables, tables that can also double as a kitchen island. You have a lot of room for flexibility and creativity.

Add Brightness

Image via Pinterest

Lighting, glass, and mirrors all work to create a bright vibe that can make space appear larger and lighter. Looking to lighten up? Use a glass table instead of a wood table, as it takes up less visual real estate.

Expand the Horizons

Image via Google

Long, floating shelves or even a rectangular light fixture can help to elongate the area and create the illusion of more space. If you opt for shelving, it also gives you more storage options and opportunity to infuse more personality into the space. Shelfie anyone?

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Suburban Spotlight: Wellesley

Did you know that Wellesley is the most expensive market for big houses outside of California, according to The Boston Globe? The town is also renowned for education. The school system consistently ranks high both within the state and nationally and elite colleges reside here. It’s no surprise seeing that it is a mere 15 miles outside of the city, yet on some level feels worlds away. Let’s take a deeper dive into the neighborhood.

Things to Do

Get Outside

Image via Google

I recently listened to a podcast where the guest stated that he takes a vacation every day which could be anything from a brisk walk before his son’s soccer game or a scenic drive. For Wellesley’s residents, they can visit Elm Bank. The reservation consists of 182 acres of woodlands, fields, and old estate lands to explore. You can canoe, hit the trails, ride your bike or picnic.

Dine Out

Fun fact: Wellesley was a dry town until very recently, think late 2010s. Most restaurants in the area still haven’t caught up and may not serve alcohol, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing a bite to eat in town because there are so many delicious options! There are small, local options such as Juniper and Linden Store as well as bigger names i.e. Smith & Wollensky, and Papa Razzi.

Shopping

There is no shortage of shopping (and dining and beauty services) in Wellesley Square. You’ll find unique finds at places such as Sprig & Vine, Laurel Grove, and Isabel Harvey.

Market Snapshot

Property value in Wellesley rarely dips and thanks to COVID, the cost to live here keeps increasing. With an average sale price close to the $2 million mark and with days on the market down, the competition is fierce in this suburb. To buy here, you need a realtor who can help you gain competitive advantage.

Average Sale Price: $1,888,571.87 – Up 6.99%
Average Days on Market: 88 – Down 26.67%

Available Properties

Click the photo below to view a collection of available properties in Wellesley.

If you’re considering buying, selling, or both in Wellesley, contact me and let’s talk about ways I can help!

The Future of Kitchens

We tend to have these grandiose ideas when we think about what life will be like in the future and those ideas extend into our home, specifically our kitchens. Let’s take a realistic look at the technologies and trends experts are predicting for the future of kitchens. Some of the items listed already exist, but experts predict they will be more common and/or advanced in the future.

Antimicrobial Features

Image via Google

Many of the countertop options today have an antimicrobial component such as quartz and copper. They are nonporous so they don’t trap bacteria and viruses in the way granite or marble do. There are also hygiene solutions built into kitchen appliances that are able to kill bacteria and support air filtration.

Hybrid Indoor/Outdoor Kitchens

Image via Google

This trend may be more fantasy than reality for Boston city dwellers and even suburban homeowners with the space thanks to our harsh winters, but it’s still an interesting one to consider. It checks all of the (post) pandemic boxes such as bringing us out into nature and outdoor entertaining where we are ess likely to pass along germs.

IoT and Smart Appliances

Image via Google

IoT and Smart appliances are technically two different technologies, but for the sake of this post, I am lumping them together. Think voice command appliances and refrigerators that prompt you to order when you’re running low on milk, preheating the oven from your car on the way home from work….These solutions exist now, but will only offer more convenience and sophistication as they evolve and become commonplace.

Hidden Kitchens

Image via Google

This is another trend contingent upon having space. Imagine the amount of pressure relief particularly when entertaining with hidden space to prepare all of the food! With a hidden kitchen, you don’t have to worry about the actual clean-up until the guests leave. Even without guests, it’s nice to have the prep mess out of sight when dining.

Which one are you looking forward to incorporating into your home in the future?

Neighborhood Spotlight: Charlestown

Deep history, cinematic notoriety, and the waterfront are just some reasons to love Charlestown. There’s also the delicate balance of the charming brick homes and gas-lit streets mixed with the modern conveniences, the historic Navy Yard, a Whole Foods, public transportation access on the Orange line and a ferry that draws people in. And most recently, Tatte! Let’s explore.

Property Types

Brownstones

Image via Google

For those who gravitate towards this historical architectural style, you will be pleased to learn you can find brownstones in Charlestown sans the heftier price tag found in neighborhoods such as the Back Bay, South End, and Beacon Hill.

Single Family Homes

Image via Google

The neighborhood does offer single-family and townhome options both attached and detached and some even feature a highly coveted backyard!

Full-Service Buildings

Image via Google

There are quite a few full-service buildings such as The Lumen, Flagship, Harborview, and Parris Landing to name a few. Most are located within the Navy Yard or walking distance to the waterfront.

Points of Interest

The Monument

Image via Google

Did you know this the Monument was the first public obelisk in the country? For a bird’s-eye-view of Charlestown and Boston, climb the 294-step spiral staircase to the observation deck at the top of the monument.

Navy Yard

Image via Google

What was once the oldest shipbuilding facility is now a robust neighborhood within a neighborhood. There are luxury condos, office buildings, restaurants, and the USS Constitution Museum.

Condo Market Snapshot

With a high demand for more space, more buyers are turning their attention to Charlestown. If you look at the numbers for condos in particular, the average sale price was $829,805 and price per square foot (ppsf) was $769. Both were up notably, 8.4% and 5.8% respectively, even in the midst of a pandemic according to MLS.

A look at the stats year to date shows a very slight increase in average price, < 1%, and a 5.5% decline in average ppsf on closed sales. That being said, relative to some other neighborhoods such as Back Bay and South End, Charlestown offers not only charm and more space for the dollar.

Click the photo below for a collection of available properties in Charlestown.

Image via RealScout

If you’re thinking of a move to Charlestown or interested in learning more about this neighborhood, contact me and let’s get the conversation started!

Frequently Asked Questions with Frann

The spring market is right around the corner. Perhaps, you’ve spent a good deal of the last year considering either moving out of the city, taking advantage of the deals happening in the city, or a second home. I’m here to answer some of the frequently asked questions I’ve had in a Corona-era real estate market.

Is now a good time to sell?

If you’re a suburbanite, strike while the iron is hot. The suburbs are highly desirable right now. There isn’t enough inventory to keep up with demand meaning multiple offers and offers over asking price. If you’re a city dweller, it depends on your motivation for selling and when you purchased.

Is now a good time to buy?

It really depends on your needs. For those downsizing or seeking a pied-à-terre, now is a great time to buy specifically in the city. For those looking for more space, to work from home or for an expanding family, now is also a good time to buy elsewhere as interest rates are low but expect a highly competitive environment particularly when a property just hits the market. If you work with a skilled agent, you will be able to find and land a home that checks most of your boxes.

How has my job changed since the pandemic started?

I’ve had to shift from in person meetings, coffees or dinners, to meetings online with the help of tools such as virtual tours, Zoom, and FaceTime. I do have Open Houses showing one party at a time and private showings, and I go out with clients to visit properties. We are compliant with mask wearing and social distancing.

What do I miss about the way we used to “do” real estate?

I truly miss the in-person, face-to-face interaction with my clients. I miss debriefing over a cup of coffee after a day of showings, and the social time enjoying a dinner or glass of wine, just to catch up on life.

Have a question for me or want to discuss your next real estate transaction? Contact me and let’s chat!

Spotlight on Somerville

It’s hard to find a “Top Places to Live” or “Coolest Suburb” list that does not feature Somerville. This comes as no surprise to residents. It’s 5 miles outside of Boston, culturally diverse, has an amazing restaurant scene, green space, and is easily accessible by car or public transportation.

Neighborhoods to Know

Davis Square

Image via Google

Arguably the first Somerville neighborhood Bostonians turned to in search of more affordable living still within reach of the city, Davis Square has undergone a major transformation over the last couple of decades. It’s artsy and full of character.

Union Square

Image via Boston Magazine

Union Square is another hip, diverse section of Somerville. However, it is one that is on the precipice of change (yet again). The Green Line extension is set for 2021 completion and the nearby Boynton Yards, a 1.3M square foot mixed use science and innovation campus, will undoubtedly bring Union Square to the next level in its evolution.

Assembly Square

Image via Google

More shopping center, than actual neighborhood, I would be remiss not to include it in must-know Somerville neighborhoods. The real estate inventory here is exclusively high rise condos tucked on the peripheral of fitness centers, retail, restaurants, and Lego Land. Living here is the height of convenience to say the least.

Market Snapshot

Taking a look at the numbers for Somerville condos year over year (2020 vs. 2019), 18% fewer condos sold, the average sale price showed a small increase, + 4%, despite the pandemic, while the average PPSF showed a small decline, -3.6%, perhaps attributable to the mix of properties sold, but properties were selling, on average, at the original asking price. Overall, Somerville fared reasonably this past year and continues to be a high interest area with good value relative to Boston neighborhoods.

Average Sale Price: $819,595
Average PPSF: $615

Source: MLS

Somerville Listings

Click the photo below for a collection of available properties in Somerville.

If you’re thinking of a move to Somerville or interested in learning more about this neighborhood, contact me and let’s get the conversation started!