Schools and Public Transit Support Demand in a Stabilizing Westwood Real Estate Market


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Today’s real estate market has cooled since the days of panic-buying when buyers struggled to find the home of their dreams in a market with a shortage of inventory. However, as the market stabilizes, good schools and convenience to public transit have continued to support home sales in Westwood, says Tammy DeWolfe, an agent for the brokerage Gibson Sotheby's International Realty.

Whereas earlier in the pandemic, it was not uncommon for homes to receive an offer after just a day or weekend on the market, Ms. DeWolfe is now seeing homes stay on the market for 15 to 30 days. And instead of 20 to 30 offers on a house, Ms. DeWolfe is now seeing between two to ten offers in a multiple offer situation. A number of buyers are still waiving home inspections, but “Now, people are weighing their options,” she says. “It’s not such a frantic race to put an offer on every single house.”

The “sweet spot” in Westwood are homes in the $1 million to $1.5 million range, according to Ms. DeWolfe. She credits its good schools and the increase in gas prices as large factors contributing to the location's desirability. As fuel costs rise, buyers are interested in public transportation, and Islington is within walking distance to a train station.

Home inventory is still low, and while the pace of buying may no longer be frantic, buyers will want to move as quickly as possible, says Joseph Lamberti, VP General Sales Manager of Residential Lending at Rockland Trust. He notes that the typical closing is happening in 45 to 60 days, “So buyers should get pre-approved and make sure they have all the info they need to the lender so they can get the loan closed as quickly as possible,” he says.

Mortgage interest rates over the past year have jumped quickly from 2.5 percent to 5.5 percent for a 30 year fixed loan, observes Mr. Lamberti.

With the rise in interest rates, some buyers are looking at different locations to their preferred location or condominiums instead of single family homes.

The same things that people have looked for are still true now, says Ms. DeWolfe. There may be more of an emphasis on spaces for outdoor recreation, but they want a home office, area for kids to study, and they want to avoid a big renovation.

As for sellers, she notes that they are taking the opportunity to cash out, and/or buy the house of their dreams and relocate. They may sell their home in the suburbs to move closer to work or family, cutting down travel time as a way to improve quality of life.

Westwood appears No. 23 on a list recently compiled by Stacker of thirty of the cities with the fastest growing home prices in the Boston metro area. Other nearby communities appearing on the list are Newton at No. 15, Needham at No. 7, Dover at No. 4, and Wellesley at No. 3. Stacker states that the 1-year price change for these five communities ranged from 12.5 percent in Newton to 18.2 percent in Dover. Their 5-year price change ranged from 38.1 percent in Newton to 44.6 percent in Needham.

First-time home buyers may struggle to purchase a home with values on the rise. They can look for "many programs that offer 3 percent down with discounted rates and discounted mortgage insurance," says Mr. Lamberti. He also points to programs from Massachusetts Housing Partnership and the Federal Housing Administration as helpful to first-time home buyers.

Thanks to Tammy DeWolfe, Joseph Lamberti, and Stacker for their contributions to this article. 

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