This month, HotelHomes sat down with Tim Marsh, co-owner of Marsh Properties in Boston, Massachusetts. Often included in Boston’s Top 20 real estate agents, Tim specializes in full-service doorman condominiums, amongst other luxury properties across the city. He is Boston’s top broker at Four Seasons Place. This 93-unit condominium sits atop the Four Seasons and offers residents world-class hotel services and an A+ location across from Boston’s historic Public Garden.
HH: When and how did you get into the real estate business?
TM: In the mid 1980’s my wife Cheryl and I were living and enjoying the lifestyle of Beacon Hill. At the time we were living in a tiny, 2nd floor apartment in a late 1800′s row house. I remember it had spectacular 12+ ft. ceilings with huge bay windows and was dripping in detail. We both fell in love with this type of Victorian style architecture. And we were intrigued with the increasing popularity (and values) of condominiums and single-family homes in Beacon Hill and in other popular downtown neighborhoods such as the Back Bay, South End and Waterfront.
HH: Sounds like you have some real passion for your city…
TM: Yes, this passion drove us to leave our jobs in unrelated industries and join two different residential real estate brokerages. In 1990, Cheryl opened Marsh Properties; I left my firm that same year and joined her. I haven’t looked back since.
HH: Sounds like your leap of faith paid off. What is the market like now in Boston?
TM: Boston enjoyed a strong year in 2013. The secret of Boston’s success is a classic supply and demand story. Boston is a relatively tiny city, and a very popular place to live. Meanwhile, the inventory of residential properties is very small and there is very little opportunity for new construction. High demand for a low supply (inventory) puts upward pressure on prices.
HH: What does the inventory look like?
TM: In the $1-3 million market in the Back Bay (one of Boston’s most coveted neighborhoods and one that Marsh Properties excels in) only 135 condominiums sold in all of 2013. In the $3+ million market only 33 condos sold in 2013. The average price per square foot increased by 8.6% and 17%, respectively.
Demand remains quite high. Along with being able to walk Boston proper from end to end, the city offers multiple business districts, beautiful historic architecture, a vibrant theatre district, the world-renowned Newbury Street and its chic retailers as well as an amazing array of restaurants. In the center of it all is the oldest park in America – the Boston Public Garden and adjacent Boston Common. From young college grads to suburban empty nesters, who decide to move to Boston to enjoy its lifestyle, demand is very high.
HH: Tell us a little bit about The Four Seasons Residences in Boston.
TM: The Four Seasons Hotel and its residential component, Four Seasons Place, was built circa 1985. It was only the second of its kind in Boston. 93 condominium units were constructed above the hotel.
HH: Being one of the first of its kind in Boston – how did people respond to the hotel condo concept?
TM: It was very well received by affluent buyers looking for white-glove concierge services along with hotel services. It quickly became one of Boston’s most valuable addresses.
HH: What luxuries does the Four Seasons Place condominium currently provide?
TM: The condominium has a separate lobby and 24/7 world-class concierge services. The lobby is quite elegant and recently renovated. Residents can order room and housekeeping service from the hotel and have access to a beautiful (and complimentary) spa, lap pool and fitness center overlooking the parks. Valet or self-park garage spaces are included.
HH: Wow. We’re sold. What type of prices does it currently have?
TM: The sales for 2013 looked like this:
Rear renovated residences with one garage: $1,183+ per SF
Front renovated residences with one garage: $1,666+ per SF
HH: How does that compare to other luxury condominium developments in Boston?
TM: Today there are seven full-service condominium developments with hotel components in Boston: Battery Wharf, Carlton House, Intercontinental, Residences at the Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Towers, Rowes Wharf and the W. Brand drive price and in Boston the Four Seasons leads the pack.
HH: How does price appreciation compare between a hotel condominium and a regular condominium in the Boston market?
TM: The tier-1 luxury condos with hotel components typically trade at some of the highest prices per square foot. However, due to the limited and virtually finite supply of condominiums in general, and luxury townhouse style condos specifically, they typically appreciate at similar rates.
HH: Does there continue to be strong demand for hotel homes in the Boston market?
TM: Yes, as the affluent baby boomer population ages so does the demand for hotel services coupled with tier-1 condominium living.
HH: Where is the mixed-use hotel condominium trend going? Are there any new hotel condos planned for Boston on your radar?
TM: Currently, there are no hotel-branded condominiums planned in Boston. Boston’s Midtown and Seaport neighborhoods are where the most (luxury) residential developments will occur.
HH: When traveling, what is your favorite hotel service/amenity?
TM: That’s easy – high quality guest rooms coupled with fine dining on site.
HH: If you could own a hotel condo anywhere in the world, where would it be?
TM: Four Seasons Private Residences Bora Bora.
HH: That sounds nice. See you on the beach Tim!
Image Courtesy of Tim Marsh