Here's some good information, with some questions and answers underneath the chart. This chart is based on MLS sales, which is an excellent representation of what's actually happening in the marketplace. This graph shows what is being paid on a square foot basis in each town.
Natick Buyers have pushed Home Sale Valuations to the head of the pack.
What's not clear is if they can stay there.
Questions and Answers
Q: If I pay less than the average $/square foot, am I getting a good deal?
A: Ah, if only it were so easy. $/square foot is a very useful metric - in AGGREGATE - to compare reasonably good sized data sets. In Natick, someone paid $99 a square foot for a home on Marion St, and someone paid $335/ sq foot for new construction. Now, with both those homes so far away from the town mean, I would say it's fair to suspect that one person may have paid a little too much, and one may have gotten a good deal, but truth be told you can't tell just by looking at the numbers.
Q:So if this chart won't tell me if I'm getting a good deal, why would I care about it?
A: I think it offers insight as to what "comparable" towns are. If you were looking in Sudbury, Natick and Medfield, you might see homes that are comparable in price. If you like Sudbury's schools better than Natick schools, you might want to focus in Sudbury, as you're getting more of what you want, at the same price.
Q: What else might I do with these numbers?
A: If you were struggling to find the right house in one set of towns, it may make sense to look in the next set of towns. If you were looking in Westborough and Hopkinton, (as some would), but just can't find enough house for what you can afford, you may want to look at Ashland, Northborough and Shrewsbury - where your dollars will go a little further. Folks looking at Marlborough and Hudson may want to think if Milford or Clinton. Yes, switching towns may offer more tradeoffs, but it may just offer the insight you need to get the right house.
Q: Will these numbers change?
A: Yes, but they will change a lot slower-and bounce around a lot less - than Median Home Sales Pricing or it's cousin Average Home Sales Price - which are often talked about metrics that sends a lot of mixed signals (click the above link for why). Overall, these numbers are far more useful to me in my day-to-day than either of those other numbers.
Q: Anything Else about working with $/sq foot?
Knowing how to Assess Homes
and the Risk they Carry can Save
you Money - and ease your mind.
A: I have often (often!) been told that a home is too expensive based on this metric. Or that's it's a good value because of this metric. Neither of these statements often turns out to be correct. Homes with low valuations either have cosmetic or other concerns that can't be fixed (noisy highways, steep grades, common driveways), and homes with higher valuations may require little fixing, carry little risk, and require fewer capital expense items going forward. Using a town average to evaluate a home is not a good idea - but there are ways to use this metric to help you make a decision.
Q: Are there any surprises here?
A: I definitely saw some surprises. Shrewsbury is quite far West, and yet was getting good prices even vs. popular towns further East, like Holliston. That makes me think I'll be looking more in Holliston in the future, as it's possible there are some good deals right now (Holliston looks undervalued to me in this markup). Less of a surprise was Natick at the top - there's a huge demand/supply imbalance in Natick, so I would probably encourage Natick focused buyers to consider Medfield or Sudbury, so that they feel they have plenty of options, especially since I think Natick may struggle to hold on to the top spot going forward. I was also surprised that Southborough was a shade more expensive than Hopkinton or Westborough, which makes sense, as the commute for many is easier from Southborough, but the price pressures in the other town I thought may have pushed them either even or ahead of Southborough in the last few months.
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*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.