Kevin Caulfield
Managing Director, Compass Real Estate 
Age: 42
Industry experience: 25 years 

As construction crews neared completion of Beacon Hill’s biggest new condo project in decades, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a curve at Boston’s luxury real estate market. Boston-based Caulfield Properties represents developer Center Court Properties in marketing the conversion of former Suffolk University Law School offices and classrooms into The Archer Residences, comprising 62 luxury condos with 57 different floor plans designed by The Architectural Team of Chelsea. Founder and CEO Kevin Caulfield has brokered more than $400 million worth of residential transactions during his career in the Greater Boston real estate industry. 

Q: How big of a factor did virtual tours become in recent months at the Archer?
A: I was in the sales center a lot. We did a lot of virtual tours, but I was happy to do live tours with masks. Construction had been delayed, so some people were willing to come out. When people called about specific units and pricepoints, we were able to do Zooms and Facetimes. I wouldn’t say we placed any unit under agreement using that method. A lot of times when you’re selling things preconstruction, sometimes it’s two to three visits prior to reservation. What those virtual showings did is, they eliminated one of those showings. We would have people come through who had done a virtual tour, and physically walk through the unit. We put one of the penthouses under agreement during COVID, which we were happy with. The list price was $9 million. There was a lot of activity on the lower end, up to $2 million, but to pop one of the penthouses during the pandemic was a bit of a surprise. 

Q: Are new distancing rules for construction sites delaying completion further?
A: They’re pretty much back at full force. There’s additional safety precautions onsite, temperature taking if they leave for lunch. As a sales team, we are not entering the building until it’s been vacated by the construction crews. Most of the showings are done after hours. It’s a lot easier for us to keep social distancing without having a full construction team on the site. 

Q: Has demand in the Boston condo market tipped toward brownstones and smaller buildings as opposed to high-rises as a result of COVID, or is the high-rise market a separate buyer pool?
A: People probably come and get a feel first, but then they decide whether they decide to go more full-service or the brownstone neighborhood feel. The nice thing we’ve got with the Archer is we’re a little bit of both. We’re a boutique full-service building, but when you walk outside, you’re on a tree-lined street and neighboring us are brownstones. It’s probably still early to make that call. From all of the conversations we’ve been having, people want to be in smaller associations, maybe places with a smaller number of people, or maybe they don’t need an elevator at all. I can see that having an impact. It has really affected us. We’re not a Millennium Tower, we’re not EchelonSeaport with 447 condos. We’re small enough where we’ve got 60 units, three elevator banks, and you’re only basically sharing your floor with five (other units), which isn’t much. So I think that’s been attractive. A lot of these are peoples’ primary home in Boston, but they’ve got other places to go as well. We’re stories plus the penthouses, so in a worst case scenario, it’s walkable. 

Q: What’s the price range where you’re seeing the most sales velocity across the Boston condo market?
A: The lower end prices up to $1.5 million, if you look at those deals and the volume of transactions that went on through COVID, there’s still a lot of demand. When you think about why people are living in the city, many of these people may have been renters and had leases expiring. At the higher end, people that have second homes have retreated to them during COVID, and they’re starting to resume searches. It’s still a touch too early to tell what peoples’ mindsets will be. 

Q: What neighborhoods do you expect will see the most short-term growth in the condo market?
A: We’ve had a couple of projects right by the Broadway T stop and the Red Line is a big driver. The west side of South Boston has been hot: industrial land where people have been able to get in there and convert space. The big driver there is proximity to the Seaport and the Red Line. Ink Block has expanded the footprint of the South End and that’s continued down Harrison Avenue, and it just continues to push the limits of where people are willing to go in the neighborhood.  

Caulfield’s Five Favorite Golf Courses 

  1. Old Sandwich Golf Club
  2. Black Rock Country Club
  3. Hyannisport Club 
  4. The Country Club
  5. The Aquidneck Club

Pitching Penthouses During a Pandemic

by Steve Adams time to read: 3 min