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Welcome to your constantly updated resource for news and views on the Brookline Real Estate market. Here you will find commentary and statistics to explain the daily changes in the Brookline specific housing market.

Whether you're looking for an estate in Cottage Farm, a condo in Brookline Village or are just stopping by please feel free to read along and comment at will. If you are interested in speaking about renting an apartment, buyer representation or listing your home please feel free to contact me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Longwood Towers in Foreclosure

Lender to auction Brookline project - The Boston Globe

As the link above explains, the lender for the developers at Longwood Towers (20 Chapel St.) have begun foreclosure proceedings. What this normally means is an auction will be held for the remaining units. As far as I can tell the sell-out has not even approached 50% of the units originally listed in MLS.

Having worked on a large-scale sale of condos in one building before I can tell you that the process is very difficult. The biggest danger you have is people forgetting that you exist. With the prevalence of information out there buyers and their agents are bombarded daily with "what's new" in the real estate market. With that much volume in the market the condos which have been on the market for hundreds of days never get looked at.

I must take issue with the assumption that this project has fallen victim to the "market conditions." It is this segment of the marketplace that is actually one of the bright shining stars these days. So, what did happen?

1) From the start it was going to be very difficult to find almost 300 buyers who would be willing to spend close to $700 per square foot for small units.

2) If the developer wanted to ask those prices and establish that value they were going to need to be significantly closer to downtown.

3) Remember the location...there is NOTHING close to (and I mean simple walk a la the Mandarin Oriental or The Ritz Towers downtown) the intersection of Longwood Ave. and Chapel Street.

4) This location is perfect for medical professionals. The busy younger ones who have no time to eat or sleep, let alone find transportation into JP/Allston/Brighton/Washington Square at crazy hours of the day. How many of those people can qualify for a $600,000+ mortgage?

5) Poor marketing. If you look at the photos on MLS they tend to feature a dungeon-like lobby shot and a grainy exterior photo. This is a luxury property. There should be videos of the amenities, massive testimonials about the location, wonderful buy-in incentives, pictures and floorplans galore, etc...

6) Too many options. In just one listing I opened up I see "price includes selected upgrades" and "Valet Fee $135/mo" and "Complimentary Valet Parking." Ok, so I understand that each new owner would get to select some upgrades, but quite frankly the presentations tend to come off like a bait-and-switch routine in the minds of many consumers. Also, the "complimentary" parking is for visitors to the sales office, but just because I know that from experience does not mean it makes sense to the consumer at home on a Sunday morning.

7) CRAZY high condo fees. Honestly, I live in a 1300 sq. ft. 2 bed/2 bath in the middle of Coolidge Corner and my MORTGAGE is the same as some of these condo fees.

This is sad for the many people who paid what they were expecting to be "market price" for the early units. They will have to hold onto their condos for quite some time to see the return in investment. This building never fully made sense in my mind the way it was being presented to the public. The one thing the Brookline condo market has taught us is a building in that location should be fabulously successful. There is an incredible demand for housing at that location. The developers fancied some high-end luxury masterpiece, and I'm sorry but that location is not the proper spot for their dream.


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The views expressed on these pages are the opinion of the author and any public contributors. They do not substitute for the advice of a legal or financial professional. These opinions are not representative of any firm or business. Please always consult an attorney, financial professional or sign a contract with a Buyer Agent or Seller's Agent for specific advice.