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The Value of Hub Parking

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Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. Check out his new ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets.

The median sales price of a condo in nine* key Greater Boston neighborhoods: $455K.

You want some parking with that condo? Better break out the checkbook.

The median sales price of that condo after you add one parking space: $538K.

The median sales price for condos with one garage parking space: $575K.

Is a Greater Boston parking space worth the $83K or $120K difference in the median sales price? I don't think so. That may be on average the difference in cost, but it's not indicative of city parking's true value. When you buy parking, you're buying so much more than parking; you may be buying anything from an absolute necessity, to a convenience and security, to even a status symbol. Perhaps the real value of parking was best summed up by an experienced agent commenting on the surprising $560,000 paid for Back Bay tandem spots last June: "The demand is not about value. It's about wanting the parking spot at whatever cost."

What were folks willing to pay for condos with the best kind of parking, garage parking? I wondered, so I decided to take a closer look—this time by neighborhood—at the difference in the median sales price between condos without garage parking and condos with at least one garage parking space. I looked at sales in the first nine months of 2013.

In Charlestown, there was a $93,500 difference, but in South Boston the difference was $143,000. In the South End, condos with garage parking sold for $262,500 more. Of course, garage parking is more prevalent in modern buildings, so the inclusion of garage parking isn't the only difference in amenities. Still, the price differences were incredible.

Yet, I was somewhat surprised to see that the neighborhood where garage parking seemingly had the most impact on median sales prices was Back Bay, not the storied parking neighborhood of Beacon Hill, home to the world-famous Brimmer Street Garage. In Back Bay, the median sales price for condos with garage parking was more than twice the median sales price for condos without garage parking. That's like a side order costing more than the meal.

Of course, the more you pay for a condo, the more likely it is that you will get garage parking. In the nine neighborhoods, 42 percent of condos with a sales price of more than $700K had garage parking, but 49 percent of condos with a sales price of more than $1 million had it. And while most condos of more than $2 million had garage parking, the most expensive condominium to sell in the first nine months of the year without garage parking was Unit 4 at 185 Marlborough Street, which went for $3.25 million.

*Nine neighborhoods include Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Jamaica Plalin, Somerville, South Boston, and South End. This report reviewed MLSPIN data between 1/1/13-9/30/13.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]