Sales have surged over the past year in many suburbs and neighborhoods across the Boston area.
And with the number of homes on the market steadily falling, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that real estate values are eventually destined to take off again in the perpetually inflated Greater Boston real estate market.
That said, home prices in many zip codes have actually fallen over the past year. So if you are looking for a (relative) bargain, this may be your window of opportunity.
Here's my list of 12 bargain burbs. These are solidly middle class towns that have seen some of the biggest drops in home prices over the past year, as of Sept. 30th. (All numbers drawn from The Warren Group.)
Wrentham: The shellacking outgoing Sen. Scott Brown took at the ballot box earlier this month is nothing compared to the steep plunge in real estate prices his hometown has been hit with over the past year. Home prices in this burb along the Boston to Providence corridor has plunged more than 25 percent over the past year, to a median of $283,500.
Walpole, Norfolk and Foxboro: Here are three more picturesque small towns not far from Wrentham where prices have come down significantly over the past year. Both towns have commuter rail stations and are a good 15 minutes closer to Boston than Wrentham. (Walpole has a more substantial town center while Norfolk has a more rural feel.) The median price in Norfolk fell 9.4 percent to $390,000, while Walpole saw a 7 percent decline, to $370,000. Foxboro, which saved its small-town New England appeal when it sent Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn packing, saw prices drop nearly 7 percent to $319,250.
Ashland and Holliston: The state park in Ashland will be finally reopening this spring, providing some relief for those hot summer days. Ashland is also one of the few towns in the western burbs that has seen a big drop in prices, falling more than 23 percent to $300,000 over the past year. Holliston is another rare western burb where prices have stumbled, falling 8.6 percent
Boxboro and Maynard: When I think of Boxboro I think of big new homes out on 495 filled with techies. Not sure whether you can get a bargain on a new colonial, but the median price in town has dropped to $520,000, an 8.7 percent decline. The old mill town where Digital got its start, Maynard has a more affordable median of $270,000, representing a 10 percent drop.
Georgetown, Newbury and West Newbury: Here are three towns in the Merrimack Valley in the far northern suburbs. For looks, I'll take these towns over any of the competition - they retain their small town charm. However, if you work in Boston or close to it, you are going to be in for more of a hike. To get a feel for the area, drive from Haverhill to Newburyport - it's a picturesque ride for a nice day and it will take you through all three towns. Median home prices fell: 10.7 percent in Newbury, to $374,500; 8.9 percent in West Newbury to $412,000; and 9.4 percent in Georgetown, to $317,000.
Happy bargain hunting!
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