Middlesex County, Massachusetts is the most populous county in New England and is located west and northwest of Boston. It contains some of the wealthier towns in Massachusetts and was recently ranked 10th in the country in terms of the number of millionaires. It includes urban, suburban and rural areas reaching from urban Cambridge, home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the New Hampshire border. Within Route 95/128, towns with high-end real estate include Belmont with its attractive historic Belmont Hill section, Lexington of Revolutionary fame, Newton, particularly the Chestnut Hill area and home to Boston College, and Winchester with wonderful vistas across the Mystic Lakes. Between Route 95/128 and Route 495, along the Route 2 and Route 20 corridors, Carlisle, Concord, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston are small historic towns that have maintained a sense of their rural past. Sherborn is an anomaly linked more to the neighboring equestrian towns of Dover and Medfield in Norfolk County. Outside Route 495, Groton is notable for its early nineteenth century architecture, substantial farmland and two highly-regarded boarding schools: Groton School and Lawrence Academy.
Active Listings and Sales, $2,000,000+, Q1-Q3, 2000-2011
In Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the first three quarters of 2011 the inventory of high-end listings shrank from record levels in the previous quarter (154 vs. 193 listings at the end of June) and compared to the same time last year (182 listings at the end of September 2010). The first quarter of 2011 had experienced a dramatic decrease in high-end listings down to nearly record lows of 130 so the second quarter was particularly active in terms of new listings coming on the market and the reduction in the number of listings in the third quarter is even more striking.
High-end sales through September are slightly higher than last year (63 vs. 57 in 2010), but significantly behind the average of 74 sales over the past 12 years. Peak high-end sales for the first three quarters occurred in 2007 with 105 sales. The first quarter of 2011 started off more strongly than 2010 and several record sales created an optimistic buzz in the brokerage community. The second quarter did not keep up this accelerated pace and, while the third quarter of 2011 was stronger than last year, at the end of September the number of sales is off approximately 40% from the peak. On the positive side, while off from the peak, the high-end market in Middlesex County appears to have stablilzed at a reasonable level compared to historic levels of inventory and sales.
Highest And Average Sale, $2,000,000+, Q1-Q3, 2000-2011
Sale prices for the first two quarters peaked in 2005 to 2007 at the $6,000,000 to $7,000,000 level with an anomalous $10,000,000 sale in 2008. In 2011, the top sale to date was a record $15,600,000 in Weston. There was another nearly record sale in Weston at $8,350,000. Average sale prices have been generally more stable in the range of $2,700,000 to $2,900,000 over the past 10 years. In the first three quarters of 2011 the average sale price was $2,870,048.
Days On Market, Sales, $2,000,000+, Q1-Q3, 2000-2011
Days on market for high-end sales in the first three quarters have varied considerably over the past 12 years. Average days on market through September of 2011 were 183 vs. 180 in 2010, 240 in 2009 and 173 in 2008. The average days on market for the first three quarters over the period 2000-2011 was 178. Despite the continued uncertainty in the market, special properties expertly presented and well priced are selling, but it can take time, although not much longer than in years past. Buyers continue to demand value and are leery of projects. Land sales have been mixed with developers being particularly risk averse.
Sales By Town, $2,000,000+, Q1-Q3, 2000-2011
Ten of the 54 cities and towns in Middlesex County, Massachusetts had high-end sales in the first three quarters of 2011. Newton was the leader with 18 sales followed by Weston (12), Cambridge (10), Belmont (6), Lexington (6), Winchester (4), Concord (2), Lincoln (2), Sherborn (2), and Sudbury (1). For sales in the first three quarters over the period 2000-2011, the leaders are Weston (219), Newton (201), Cambridge (138), Concord (99), Lexington (56), and Lincoln (37). On a population-adjusted basis, Weston remains the sales leader followed by Concord and Lincoln.
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The LandVest High-End Market Watch is a periodic review of select high-end markets in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Adirondacks. Market data are collected from Multiple Listing Services and do not include private listings. LandVest makes no representation as to the accuracy of the data and therefore is not responsible for any actions taken as a result of use of or reliance on this information.
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