Boston is an in-demand place to live, so buyers who look at homes in some of the most sought-after areas will find high asking prices and fierce competition. Instead of following the crowds, one smart way to break into the market can be to look at areas a little off the beaten path.
Several neighborhoods on the rise in the Boston metro area may not be on your radar, but they should be. U.S. News spoke with some of Boston's top real estate agents, as identified by Agent Explore, a real estate technology company (and a U.S. News partner), to locate five of Boston's top up-and-coming neighborhoods and suburbs.
Collin Bray, president of sales at Century 21 Cityside, offers a novel way to seek out new opportunities. "Developers are intelligent and calculated," he says. "Talk to them, find out where they are building. If you hear about new construction -- if you see cranes -- research, explore and then invest."
"For an area which measures only about a half square mile in area, the Fenway neighborhood certainly has a lot to offer its residents," says Adam Geragosian, an agent with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty. "Fenway offers the convenience of city living with all modes of transportation, all the while providing more privacy and serenity than can be found in other urban pockets of Boston."
Bray also speaks highly of the Fenway area. "The Fenway is no longer just about our favorite team, the Red Sox," he says. "The new Target flagship store, Sephora, Pavement Coffeehouse, Basho [Japanese Brasserie] and more, are there now. Fenway is a stone's throw away from the Back Bay and the South End."
Geragosian says the main thoroughfares of Beacon Street, Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street are home to some new, exciting restaurants like Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar and Sweet Cheeks Barbecue, both of which, coincidentally, are on the ground level of large mixed-use residential developments.
Home seekers can get "more bang for their buck" in East Boston, says Rich Hornblower, sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. He also says that its proximity to the water, as well as to the Blue Line Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway, is part of the draw.
Jessica Ye, real estate broker and principal at Keller Williams Realty, says, "East Boston is one of the last remaining neighborhoods that is close to downtown Boston that is still affordable. The Blue Line is very convenient. People can just take the subway to get to work without having to drive and try to park in the city. In the recent years, Jeffries Point in East Boston has gone up a lot in value. The Piers Park in the Point is very attractive and unique as it offers beautiful green space and that area offers amazing Boston city views."
Bray adds that the area is also a good investment. "If you follow South Boston's condo boom, you should invest near the water," he says. "East Boston offers stunning views of Boston's financial district."
Hornblower thinks that Roslindale is great for first-time buyers. "There are more opportunities for single families," he says. "There is some city feel and some residential feel, with many properties offering parking and outside space. It's a way to get in the city for under $400,000."
He says that another factor to consider is the convenient commuter rail train, which can get you from Roslindale Village to Back Bay Station in less than 15 minutes. Bray confirms that Roslindale's proximity to downtown, shops, restaurants and public transportation are all a big draw. "Roslindale's downtown area is bustling," he says.
Malden -- bordered by Melrose to the north, Medford to the west, Revere to the east and Everett to the south -- is a city where, just a few years ago, not many people looking in Boston would even consider, Geragosian says.
Ye says, "The new construction of upscale high-rise units and its affordability is bringing more millennials into Malden. In the west end of the city, you may even be able to find some old beautiful Victorian mansions that you can buy at a fraction of Boston's price."
Both Ye and Geragosian say one driving force behind Malden's trending revitalization is its proximity to all forms of transportation, including two subway stops, a commuter rail stop, multiple bus lines, and easy access to Route 1 and the I-93 connector. According to Geragosian, the average sales price for a single-family home in Malden in 2016 was $390,982, while condos had an average sale price of $277,200.
Ye also says there are lots of options for recreation in the area, including a bike path that links Malden to the other beachfront communities nearby and the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
Medford is about 3 miles northwest of Boston on the Mystic River and next to Malden. Ye says Medford and Malden are less expensive options for homebuyers. "A lot of people who work in Cambridge or Boston choose to move to Medford and Malden because [the towns] are still close to the city and prices are still affordable," she says.
Ye also notes these towns offer a lot of amenities. "Medford has the small-town suburban feel while still being close to the city," she says. "It has Tufts University on the south side, which offers lots of events that local residents can attend for free. There are nice ponds and nice recreational areas in Middlesex Fells and along Mystic River. The public transportation is very convenient, with the subway and commuter rail, but it also has easy access to highways, so it's a great commuter's location."
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