MA Real Estate News, Middlesex County: High-End Market Watch, First Half, 2012

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 War 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 19th century architecture, substantial farm land, and two highly-regarded boarding schools: Groton School and Lawrence Academy.


In Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the first half of 2012 the inventory of high-end listings shrank by about 10% (179 vs.193 listings in 2011). This seems to be a trend that started in the third quarter of 2011 and signals a more healthy balance of supply and demand.

First half high-end sales improved significantly compared to last year (54 vs. 42 in 2011) and are 26% above average levels for the past 12 years. Peak high-end sales for the first two quarters occurred in 2007 with 61 sales and in 2005 with 60 sales. The first quarter of 2012 started off slowly with 15 sales, but the second quarter was hot with 39 sales, the best second quarter performance since 2004.

HIGHEST AND AVERAGE SALE, $2,000,000+, FIRST HALF, 2000-2012 

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 and a record $15,600,000 in Weston in 2011. In the first half of 2012, the top sale is 281 Fairhaven Hill Road in Concord for $8,600,000. Other top sales were 36 Love Lane in Weston for $6,250,000 and LandVest’s sale of 68 Great Meadows in Concord for $5,264,699. There are also four properties under agreement with asking prices over $5,000,000. Average first half 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 half of 2012 the average sale price was $2,867,864.

DAYS ON MARKET, SALES, $2,000,000+,

FIRST HALF, 2000-2012

Days on market for first half high-end sales have varied considerably over the past 12 years. Average days on market for the first half of 2012 were 128 vs. 197 in 2011, 216 in 2010 and 258 in 2009. The average days on market for the first half over the period 2000-2012 was 189. The improving balance of supply and demand seems to be proving itself in quicker turnover. Despite the continued uncertainty in the market, special properties expertly presented and well priced are selling, and at record prices. Buyers are well-informed regarding current market realities and remain hesitant to take on projects. Land has been mixed with developers being particularly risk averse and banks being uncooperative.

SALES BY TOWN, $2,000,000+, FIRST HALF, 2000-2012

Eight of the 54 cities and towns in Middlesex County, Massachusetts had high-end sales in the first half of 2012. Newton was the leader with 17 sales followed by Weston (16), Cambridge (9), Lexington (5), Concord (4), Carlisle (1), Wayland (1), and Winchester (1). For first half sales over the period 2000-2012, the leaders are Weston (150), Newton (133), Cambridge (85), Concord (53), Lexington (43), Winchester (31), and Lincoln (22). 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 is collected from Multiple Listing Services and does 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.