Boston’s Top 10

Boston Magazine through a system of analytics, annually ranks all the 155 High Schools within the 495 belt. Small class sizes, lower Student / Teacher ratios, and a strong sports program are weighted more heavily.  Boston Magazine shares these rankings each year in their September issue. The complete 2016  ranking is attached here.

The 2016 Top Schools list is fairly consistent with 2015 Top Ten.  Westborough and Concord / Carlisle fell out of the top 10, while Acton/Boxborough and Winchester found their elite spots.

Our top 10 towns continue to offer a wide range of Single Family Average Selling Price (ASP) as well as commuting times.  The real estate mantra of “Location, Location, Location” definitely applies here when considering ASP vs. commute times for our Top 10.

Lexington 10 Yr ASP
Lexington MA Average Sales Price – 10 yr

When choosing a town, schools are key. But other important factors such as housing affordability and commute times should also be considered.  It’s no surprise communities closer to downtown Boston have more public transportation options (Newton, Winchester), offering both commuter rail and bus options with a smaller drive times as well.   Towns farther out; Dover, Boxborough, Harvard, etc.  have much longer commute times, and often only by car.  However, home affordability is much easier on the bank account.  Additionally, the farther you live from Boston, the more land you tend to get with a home.  All these factors are important when deciding towns you’d like to pursue.

There are several towns sharing a High School.  There are two examples on the Boston Magazine list;  Dover/Sherborn and Acton/Boxborough. Other examples of shared schools: Concord/Carlisle and Lincoln/Sudbury.  Often the sharing towns have very different feels and ASP’s.

Concord MA 10 Yr ASP
Concord 10 Yr Average Single Family sales price

Concord has a very dynamic town center (actually 2 centers……Concord and the up and coming “West Concord” home of the newest hot spot,  a Farm to Table restaurant, Woods Hill Table …Plan ahead, the choice times are often not available)  with  artisanal  “mom and pop shops”.

Carlisle 10 Yr ASP
Carlisle, MA 10 Yr ASP – Single Family Homes

 

Carlisle typically has a 2 acre minimum and is fairly wooded.  No public transportation of any kind, other than a school bus!  Carlisle is a town with a single store, “Fern’s”.  A one stop shop, providing a decent deli and wine assortment.   Also good for last minute bread, eggs, and milk!

 

Boston Magazine HS Ranking

 

Community

Average 2016 Sales Price of a Single-Family Home

Average Commute time to DT Boston

Public Transportation Option

1

Dover $1,285,800 40 Minutes none

1

Sherborn $803,800 43 Minutes

none

2

Lexington $1,207,000 30 minutes

Bus to Alewife

3 Weston $1,887,700 25 minutes

Train

4 Wayland $835,800 33 minutes None
5 Newton South $1,249,300 25 minutes Train / Bus
6 Wellesley $1,478,800 35 minutes Train
7 Harvard $601,100 53 minutes none
8 Acton $596,700 43 minutes Train
8 Boxborough $626,000 45 minutes none
9 Bedford $775,300 33 minutes Bus to Alewife
10 Winchester $1,174,100 23 minutes Train / Bus

I’ve only indicated whether there are train or bus stops actually within a specific community. There are commuter options for many of the above if you’re willing to drive to an adjacent town.  For example, Bedford residents can drive to nearby Concord to take the train/Commuter Rail into Boston.  Boxborough residents can drive to either the Littleton or Acton station, etc.  Please visit MBTA Map & Schedules for additional information.

Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, full of memories and cherished belongings.  We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re looking at.  However, please stop to consider how the places you’re considering would shape your social relationships within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting.  People focus on a home that’s a certain size or style, ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family.  That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!

Also – when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want.  When you’re thinking about a house, think about the furnishings at the same time.

Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale, wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.

He found most home buyers have very high long term price expectations.  This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement.  Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!

 

Who is Buying Homes and Where?

Who bought Homes in 2015 and Where?

The majority of home buyers prefer to live the suburbs. And a growing share of these homebuyers are Millennials. This is according to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends.

Millennials - Top Home Buyers
Millennials gaining ground – top home buyers

Millennials make up 35% of current home buyers, (32% in 2014). The median age of home buying millennials is 30 years old, which is usually where one settles down to marry and raise a family (please note the “raise a family” piece, because this comes into play later). While most millennials prefer to live in an urban area as renters, this NAR survey shows most aren’t staying once they’re ready to buy. The percent of millennials buying in an urban location decreased from 21% a year ago to 17%. That’s a big 5% decrease! Limited inventory in millennials’ price range, minimal entry-level condo construction and affordability pressures make buying in the city extremely difficult for most young households.

Additionally, fewer of them (10 percent) purchased a multifamily home compared to a year ago (15 percent). So as they age, they become more traditional in their buying habits.

Who are Millennials?
Millennials – The Top Home Buyers

 

AGE OF HOME BUYERS – 2015
Year Born Age in 2015 % in Category Median Age Group
Millennials / Gen Y / Gen Next 1980-1995 <35 35% 30
Gen X 1965-1979 36-50 26 42
Boomers – Younger 1955-1964 51-60 16 56
Boomers – Older 1946-1954 61-69 15 65
Silent Generation 1925-1945 70-90 9 74

Gen X buyers make up 26% of recent home sales. They are the more racially and ethnically diverse home buying group. Only 72% identify themselves as other than White / Caucasian. The Gen X buyers are in their peak earning years, typically have children, and purchase the highest median priced homes with the largest median square footage and bedrooms. Their choices are highly determined by schools.

Schools are a critical piece of the search process for many homebuyers. The NAR report outlines just how non-negotiable that issue is.

The Table below outlines the amount a buyer is willing to compromise on certain criteria –  A schools location and quality are the most important characteristic a home buying decision is based on.

Characteristic Millennials Gen X Young Boomers Old Boomers Silent Generation
Distance from Schools 1% 3% 1% 1% 1%
Quality of Schools 7% 4% 2% 1% 1%
Quality of Neighborhood 7% 7% 6% 3% 5%
Distance from family/friends 8% 6% 5% 6% 5%
Distance from Work 18% 17% 11% 4% 1%
Home’s Style 17% 14% 10% 10% 8%
Lot size 18% 16% 12% 7% 8%
Sq Footage 21% 18% 15% 11% 17%
Condition 19% 20% 16% 21% 14%
Price 22% 22% 18% 16% 15%

Boston’s Best Public School Districts / Bedford – the best value!

Bedford, MA – the most BANG for your buck!

Boston Magazine publishes their “Best Public School Districts: every September, ranking the 125 public school districts located within the 495 belt.

With a lower average class sizes  (14.8) along with top SAT and MCAS scores and a healthy expenditure/pupil (8th of the top 50), Bedford ranks #5, outperforming most of it’s neighbors.

Interestingly, Bedford is also the most AFFORDABLE of the towns in the top 6!  With an average single family sales price of only $797,189 it makes the cost of a good education much more palatable.  Bedford median family income is $119,200

AVERAGE SINGLE FAMILY SALES PRICE – 2015

  • Dover/Sherborn
    • Dover – $1,340, 458
    • Sherborn – $826,362 (2015 residential tax rate of $20.32 – ouch!)
  • Weston – $1,859,016
  • Lexington – $1,137,449
  • Wayland – $ 818,464 (2015 residential tax rate of $18.39 – ouch again!)
  • Bedford – $797,169
  • Concord /Carlisle
    • Concord – $1,118,162
    • Carlisle   – $912,358

Additionally, Bedford is one of only 2 schools in this elite group to offer foreign language prior to Middle School.  Beginning in 3rd grade, Bedford students take French or Spanish and can continue until they graduate.  That’s NINE solid years of learning the language and culture of another country before going off to college. ( Weston offers Spanish from 1st grade, but if you’re interested in Latin, French, or Mandarin, you’ll need to wait until 7th grade).  Our mobile globalized world increasingly demands  flexibility and appreciation of differences.  Learning another language reinforces this, the earlier the better!  Please review the link below –

10 benefits to learning another language

Boston Best Schools
Boston Best Schools – Dover MA 2015
Boston Best Schools
Boston Best Schools – Weston 2015

 

Boston Best Schools
Boston Best Schoole – Lexington MA 2015

Dover/Sherborn public schools were ranked #1 by Boston Magaizne, #16 in the nation by Newsweek and #9 by US News & World report.  Foreign languages start in the 6th grade, Latin, French, and Spanish.

Dover, with a median family income of $168,443 is one of the most affluent towns in the state.

 

Weston boasts a a median household income of $155,400.

The housing market in Weston will end the year up nicely with a 7% increase in average sales price.  Units should end around 138, down 6% from last year.

 

Lexington offers French, Spanish, and Mandarin beginning in 6th grade.

The Lexington housing market was basically flat for the spring.  Year end should show a very slight uptick over the $1,137,499 shown here, with 380 Lexington homes sold by year end, a unit increase of 5%. Median family income of approximately $140,000.

Wayland kids can take French, Latin, Mandarin, or Spanish beginning in 7th grade.

Wayland boasts a medium family income of $131,000./

Wayland MA - 10 Yr ASP
Wayland MA – 10 Yr Avg Single Family Sold Price

Boston’s Best Schools – 2012

Download Boston’s Best Schools – 2012.

 

An analysis of ALL 230 Boston area High Schools (defined as those inside the I-495 belt).

This top 50 ranking incorporates 13 data point including:

  • Graduation Rate
  • SAT / MCAS scores
  • Student-Teacher ratio
  • Number of Extracurriculars
  • Expenditure per Student

This information is meant to guide you to towns that not only fit your commute requirements, but will provide a strong education for the kids as well.
If you don’t see your town or school listed, not to worry! Visit www.bostonmagazine.com/schools and browse the online analysis tool breaking down the information by category. Boston Magazine publishes the Boston Schools ranking annually in its September issue. I’ve included the past 3 issues under the School category of my blog for your review, in case you’re interested in seeing more than this year’s “snapshot”.