Why No One Should Be Surprised at $40 Million Back Bay Sale

David Bates / April 10, 2017-11:44 am


The Four Seasons Condominiums, currently under construction in Back Bay, recently revealed that one of the residences may be under agreement for $40 million.

No one should be surprised.

The last time Boston set a new high for a condo sale, it was a shocker.

Of course, that was because the $35 million paid for the Grand Penthouse at Millennium Tower nearly tripled the previous Boston high of $13.2 million paid for Unit PH-2E at the Mandarin Oriental.

Forty million dollars is a lot of money, but there should be no surprise, no omigod, no stop the presses when you barely break the record. We’re talking residential real estate after all, not the four-minute mile.

And it’s no surprise that Boston’s newest ultra-luxury residential skyscraper would be the building to one-up the previous high. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when communicating to the public that you’re the new name for luxury in the Hub?

That, and of course name your project The Four Seasons Condominiums?

There’s another aspect of the supposed $40 million accepted offer that makes it even less of an eyebrow raiser.

The Grand Penthouse was higher (60th floor), bigger (13,323 square feet), and of course newer than any luxury Boston condo constructed before it. But in terms of location it was – to put it mildly – at a disadvantage compared to other luxury buildings.

After all, Downtown Crossing isn’t Back Bay.

Back Bay isn’t just a good location, it’s THE LOCATION. It’s been home to Boston’s most able buyers for decades.

Retailers know the difference between Back Bay and Downtown. That’s why Back Bay has Boston’s most fashionable street, Newbury Street, while two of downtown’s newest stores – literally the closest to its newest luxury condominiums – are Primark and Old Navy.

The Hub’s condominium buyers know the difference too.

Millennium’s Grand Penthouse certainly wasn’t the first luxury sale made in downtown, and it won’t be the last, but how many of those downtown sales are a result of buyers not being able to find a comparable product in Back Bay?

In recent years, if you wanted ultra-luxury in Back Bay, far too often you had to jump in the way-back machine and visit the 1980s. You will find some fantastic buildings in glorious locations there, like Heritage on the Garden (1988), the original Four Seasons condominiums (1985), and the original Ritz Carlton condominiums (1982). But try to find a high-rise that reflects the way people live in 2017 the way Millennium Tower does and your elevator will undoubtedly stop a few stories short.

Over the past few years, the number of buyers in Boston’s luxury condominium market has grown about as much as the stock market.

For these buyers, like all real estate buyers, it’s all about “location, location, location.”

So, no jaws should drop and nobody should be even mildly surprised when a condo in the best neighborhood sells for more than a condo in another neighborhood.

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