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Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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Bay State Mansions for $15M+ A dozen of the region's most exclusive properties offer spectacular amenities and storied pasts. by brooke lea foster T he luxury home market in New England is showing signs of a serious turnaround. April and May saw an uptick in the number of houses over the million-dollar mark that were under agreement—493 prop- erties, compared to 473 sales at or above $1 million in the first four months of 2011. Plus, Boston already has had three mega-sales this year. A condo- minium in the Mandarin Oriental sold for $10,300,000 in February, while a single-family home at 3 Louisburg Square went into contract for $11,000,000 in April. The most expensive home to sell in Massachusetts this year was 15 Commonwealth Avenue, a 15,000-square-foot mansion in Back Bay. It didn't go quickly: The house languished for 1,000 days and sold for about 37 percent less than the original $20 million asking price. But this is the year it sailed off the market. There's a reason 2012 is the turning point: The stock market seems to have stabilized, and the perception of Boston's real estate market as a wob- bly one is finally catching up with the reality of its robustness, says Kevin Ahearn of Otis & Ahearn Real Estate. His office has seen downtown's sales numbers "sneaking up on 2007's numbers in regards to total transactions year to date." But, he says, "The downtown market has only three-and-a-half months' supply, which is very tight. And with transactions up about 12 percent this year over last, my theory is that the tight market will drive up prices in the city." He also notes that so far in 2012, 35 to 40 percent of Boston's transactions have been cash purchases. There are more bright spots in the high-end market. In Weston, an eight- acre hilltop mansion sold for a gong-ringing $15.6 million in 2011; this was the most expensive residential property sale in the Boston area in four years. "It shows that there's an appetite for these higher-end properties again," says Jonathan Radford, a luxury real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Another sign of an increased optimism may be the high prices some sellers are setting for the most exclusive properties, says Ahearn, includ- ing a May listing of a Nantucket property for $59 million. Which towns have homes in the $10 million to $15 million range? Think Weston, Wellesley, Osterville, Cohasset. Also interesting are the high- net-worth towns that are not on the list; the highest-priced homes in Andover and Concord top out between $4.2 million and $10.5 million. From Nantucket to Back Bay, from country estates to 26,000-square-foot townhouses, $15 million can buy more than ultraluxe bedrooms, walk-in closets, and privacy—you're also getting dream-home amenities and, like the two here in Cohasset and on Cape Cod, a storied past. 113 photography courtesy of kent earle

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