Home buyers in 2012 wanted convenience, amenities, and a lot of home for their money. We looked at home sales numbers for 2012 and compared them to 2011 to find the 3 towns that had the largest increases in both the number of home sales and average home sale prices.
How we picked the 3 hottest towns in Massachusetts:
For our criteria the town or city had to show double digit increases in both the number of home sales and the average home prices and have at least 100 homes sales per year. We then cross referenced our housing report numbers with data provided by MLS Property Information Network* (MLSPIN).
The results for the hottest towns in Massachusetts are Westwood, Falmouth, and Gloucester.
What made these towns so attractive to home buyers in 2012?
These towns have homes that have good school systems, offer plenty of things to do, outdoor recreation, easy commutes, and overall quality of life.
Westwood is located just 12 miles southwest of Boston, is close to Route 95, and has two commuter rail lines into Boston, making it a convenient commute to the city. Westwood also has many recreational areas and facilities, including numerous conservation areas, playgrounds, ball fields and an indoor pool facility. Westwood is known for its superb schools. In fact, Westwood ranked 13th in Boston Magazine’s Best Schools list for 2012. There are numerous Community sponsored events for the town’s residents including a very active Recreation Department. Westwood was also recently named one of the best places to live 2012 by Boston.com.
There were 174 homes sold in Westwood this year compared to 114 in 2011, an increase of 52%. The average price for a home in Westwood is $717,401, an increase of 18%.
The estimated monthly mortgage payment for a home in Westwood is $2,859.
Falmouth is located in the southwestern part of Cape Cod. It is an hour and a half from both Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, and has ferry service to the Islands. Falmouth residents enjoy boutique shopping on Main Street, 68 miles of coastline, casual dining spots, and plenty of recreational activities. Every summer Falmouth hosts the Woods Hole Film Festival as well as the Falmouth Road Race, which draws an international field of Olympic and recreational runners who run the scenic 7-mile seaside course. Falmouth has 7 schools including Falmouth High School, Teaticket Elementary School and Lawrence Middle School.
There were 381 homes sold in Falmouth this year compared to 227 in 2011, an increase of 68%. The average price for a home in Falmouth is $494,760, an increase of 13.8%.
The estimated monthly mortgage payment for a home in Falmouth is $1,972.
This past summer we visited Gloucester on our Zip Trip, and truly enjoyed everything this seaside town has to offer. Gloucester has rich history, gorgeous beaches, and delicious seafood. There’s plenty to do in Gloucester including fishing, exploring its rich history, and boutique shopping. Ravenswood Park on route 127 has 10 miles of trails and over 600 acres where visitors can picnic, bird watch, walk, cross-country ski, and enjoy the outdoors. Gloucester is best known as one of the top places in the world for whale watching. Gloucester has 2 stops on the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail and is about a 45 minute drive to Boston. The Gloucester Public School District serves more than 3,400 students. Students can attend Gloucester high school, O’Maley middle school, or one of 5 elementary schools.
There were 286 homes sold in Gloucester in 2012, a 13.9% increase over 2011. The average price for a home in Gloucester in 2012 is $449,057, a 15.9% increase over 2011.
The estimated monthly mortgage payment for a home in Gloucester is $1,709.
These numbers indicate home prices have finally stabilized and in some cases are returning to peak levels.
For instance, in 2005, the average price for a home in Westwood peaked at $761,996, and now the average price for 2012 is just 5% below peak. In Falmouth for 2012 average home prices are now just 5% below what they were in 2007. In 2009 prices in Gloucester reached their lowest levels, at around $361,626. But every year since 2009 prices have increased and now average home prices in Gloucester are the highest they’ve been since 2005.
Estimated mortgage payments are principal and interest, based on a 30 year fixed mortgage, using current interest rates as of this writing, and a 10% down payment. Actual payment will depend on down payment, interest rate, and mortgage lender.
*MLSPIN data includes most home sales in Massachusetts, but it does not include all sales, such as certain areas in Cape Cod and Western Massachusetts because each area has its own MLS.