Fall House Hunt

Melrose once again makes list of nation’s ‘hottest zip codes’

Melrose’s Main Street. The Boston Globe

Fame can be fickle, as Melrose is finding out, after losing the top spot on Realtor.com’s list of the nation’s 10 “hottest zip codes” to a tiny town with a funny name on the Texas plains.

After landing the top spot last year, Melrose has fallen to number seven  on the Realtor.com list of the country’s hottest micro-markets. The North Shore town was bumped off by a tiny Texas community called Watauga, best known maybe for not being known much at all beyond some parts of the Lone Star State.

In picking the winners, Realtor.com looked at how frequently buyers checked out listings in the various zip codes, as well how fast homes sold.


“Watau-wha? The name may not roll off the tongue, but this near suburb of Fort Worth tops our list of the nation’s hottest ZIP codes,” noted Realtor.com in its write-up of this year’s winner.

Homes in the Fort Worth suburb sell on average in just 17 days, according to Realtor.com, with the median price a shocking (by Massachusetts standards) $137,000. Millennials make up 65 percent of homeowners in town, the average age a youthful 34.

While Melrose may no longer be tops, it still managed to land in the top 10—no easy feat.

“Ranked as the hottest ZIP code in 2015, Melrose fell to the seventh spot this year as supply began to catch up with demand,” the Realtor.com write-up noted.

The town’s median list price is $462,000, 10 percent lower than Middlesex County as a whole, making Melrose a more affordable alternative than some communities.

But while Melrose may have slipped six places on the list, Loraine Murtagh, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage who has sold homes in town for years, hasn’t seen much—if any—slippage in demand. In fact, buyers outnumber sellers to such an extent that she compared finding an available house in town to a game of musical chairs, with 50 people jostling for just five empty seats.


Murtagh said she sees a lot of young professionals and families who want to stay close to the Boston area’s urban core but are looking for something more affordable than they would find in Boston or Cambridge.

“It’s just being discovered in the last four or five years,” she said.


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