Runners competing in today's Boston Marathon will dash past some of the priciest real estate on the planet.
The 26.2-mile race kicks off in middle class territory - Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham and Natick. But as the runners cross the Natick line into Wellesley, the median home doubles. And as they hit their stride, the Marathon runners will find themselves gliding past some of the most expensive suburban and urban enclaves on earth before collapsing across the finish line at Copley Square, in the heart of downtown Boston's luxury home and condo market.
I wrote those lines on Marathon Day two years ago - I guess some things really never change.
Still, there have been significant shifts in prices over the past two years, with Hopkinton, Wellesley and Newton the big winners in terms home price appreciation. Natick and Framingham are seeing brisk sales activity, but dropping prices.
Ponder this: For the $935,000 it now takes to buy the median priced home in Wellesley, you can buy nearly three homes in neighboring Natick. Back during the rough times of 2011, you could only buy two Natick homes for the price of a single Wellesley residence.
For now at least, the richest towns just keep getting richer.
Without further ado, here's my town-by-town real estate tour of the Marathon route. (All numbers are from The Warren Group. )
- Hopkinton, where the big race begins, has seen prices rebound since 2011, with the median price up more than 3 percent in 2012, to $535,000.
- Next up is Ashland, which once again is shaping up to be an alternative for middle class families priced out of towns and suburbs closer to Boston. Ashland has seen one of the steepest declines in home prices of any town along the Marathon route, with the median price plunging from over $400,000 back in the spring of 2010 to $288,950 so far this year.
- Framingham home sales are up 11 percent during the first two months of the year, but the median price is down to $272,750 compared to $300,000 during the same time last year.
- Home sales are up and prices are down as well in Natick, my hometown. While sales were up nearly 13 percent during the first two months of 2013, the median price scraped bottom at $312,000, down from $352,000 in early 2012.
- Yes, some things never change - lots of people still want to live in Wellesley, but few can afford it. Wellesley's median price stood at $935,000 at the end of February, up from $807,400 last year.
- Home prices in Newton are up again, hitting $789,000 during the first two months of the year. That's compared to $757,000 this time last year
- Shocker! The median home price in Brookline is down again this year. Now you it will take you just $1,017,500 to buy your own starter mansion.
- Real estate cycles come and go, but Copley Square/downtown Boston, the finish line for the Marathon, is an unaffordable as it ever was, with a whopping median of $2.2 million. If it's any consolation, that's down from $2.9 million this time back in 2011.
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