Blog

Lexington’s Top 5 Fall Activities!

Lexington Center Historical Society Park with Events Calendar and Old Clock

What are your top 5 favorite things to do in Lexington during the fall season?  

There’s nothing like the fall in New England, and Lexington offers so much to do and see!

 

 

The bustle of Lexington center offers a canope of crimson leaves next to the new “Clock” where benches invite readers, strollers and siteseers.  Don’t miss the newly renovated Cary Hall which opens this weekend with a performance by Livingston Taylor and others!

 

 

 

Lincoln Park Fitness Trail offers a peaceful oasis with its wide paths and winding boardwalks. A feast for the eyes and ears with wildflower patches, forest, swamp & meadows. When I walk my dog here on this autumn morning, I loved the crunch of the beautiful burnt orange fallen leaves around us.

Lincoln Park Sign

 

See the variety of pumpkins at Wilson Farm and ride through the fields on the Spooky Hayride. I remember when their Haunted House was underground and truly horrifying fun!  Their Hayride is a gentler kind of fun and is the quintessential fall event. The spooky, not scary, Hayride, is fun for all ages with werewolves, ghouls and a headless horseman atop one of the giant animals sculpted from hay. It’s fun to get out onto the fields and see the farm from that vantage point, of course while indulging in one of their delicious Apple Cider donuts!  My advice is to try to get there on a weekday to avoid the long weekend lines!  Starts October 10th.  This year marks their 130th Harvest Celebration, so they have planned several events.

You can view all of their events here:  http://www.wilsonfarm.com/happenings.html.

 

 

Hike on the conservation trails. I was lucky enough to grow up on Cape Cod and in rural Connecticut, where yearound walks outside were beautiful and relaxing. While fairly urban when compared to the old Cape shore and the rolling hills of Connecticut’s Quiet corner, get off the track and you’ll get yourself into a mini vacation right in Lexington!  The town has 1,300 acres of conservation land, with over 50 miles of trails! Here you can view a map of all of the conservation areas with trail access. Below are some of my favorite spots:

Great Meadows, which is accessible from Waldorf School and the nursing home on Emerson Gardens Road, and Dunback Meadows, accessible from Bowman School, Clarke Middle School and Allen Street.

For the avid bikers, I recommend the Minuteman National Trail. As you get into Lincoln and continue on into Concord you’ll remember why you love New England so much!  Willard’s Woods, accessible from Suzanne Road, North Street and Redcoat Lane, is especially known for dog walkers and wide, picturesque trails.

ACROSS Lexington is a network of pedestrian and bicycle routes linking many parts of the town.  You can find brochures and maps on the Town of Lexington’s website here: http://www.lexingtonma.gov/selectmen/committee/acrosslexington.cfm.

Many paths are now strewn with beautiful foliage, and hearing the leaves crunch while enjoying the crimson color all around and the bright blue sky above, is a treat. Don’t forget your sweater or field jacket!

 

 

It’s always a blast to attend a Lexington High School football game, especially under the new lights! The lights on the field along with the new turf have opened up the LHS Minutemen to an exciting world where the once sparsely filled stands are now proving to be the place to be. When you go, you’ll enjoy easy parking, a well run concession stand and the Town Center Park on site as well.  Go Minutemen!

Don’t miss a game!  Teams’ schedules here.

How have Home Prices Fared in your Boston Suburb?

Increase for Lexington and other Greater Boston Suburb Home Sale Prices in 2014

Nationwide, average single family home sales prices ticked up just 3% in 2014, while Northeast prices edged up 2%. In contrast, prices in those Greater Boston towns where I focus my business (see list, below) jumped 8% on average, with a wide range of town-specific increases.  

The range in increases for these desirable towns spans from 5% in Sudbury and Winchester to 14% in Lexington and Burlington to a high of 17% in Weston. 2014 is the first year since 1999 with an overall price increase for almost all of the above listed towns. As an exception, Lincoln showed a 6% decline in sale prices between 2013 and 2014 but keep in mind that Lincoln also had the least number of sales among these towns. Specifically, 64 homes sold in Lincoln versus 195 in Winchester and 316 in Wellesley. Wide swings are common with a limited number of sales. In fact, Lincoln saw home sales prices jump 17% during the combined sales in 2013 and 2014.

 

2014 Year End Average Home Sale Prices in Greater Boston

What Factors are Driving up Average Home Sale Prices?

Two of the biggest factors elevating prices are a strong economy and exceptionally low interest rates. For example, the growth and expansion of Lexington-based pharmaceuticals are encouraging employee relocations and families are choosing to live near the companies. Interest rates are still at historic lows and many buyers are borrowing with attractive 3%-4% rates. Banks are increasingly offering aggressive Jumbo loan rates making it easier for buyers to consider higher priced homes. Also, the desirable location, schools, culture and amenities available in most of Greater Boston keeps the area competitive.

Towns offer unique amenities and vary in terms of what you get “for your money.” For example, homes in Concord and Lexington have sold in 2014 at roughly the same average price ($1,129,000 and $1,139,000, respectively) but the charming, inviting town of Concord will likely buy you more land and a short drive two Boston’s Commuter Rail, while beautiful Lexington offers more inventory, a variety of housing styles from vintage to new construction, and easy access to a vibrant town center parks and recreation. Another example is Newton where average prices also compare to Lexington’s ($1,142,000 for 2014) –but Lexington tends to offer considerably more house and land while Newton’s value is its close proximity to Boston.

It’s no surprise that Lexington prices are pushing gently but firmly upwards.

If any Boston suburb has proven recession proof, it’s Lexington.  I know from personally tracking average sales prices in the MLS over the past 20 years that the town rebounded within two years from each of the last two recessions.

Lexington offers an ideal blend of urban and suburban. A historic and vibrant town center has preserved its appealing “small town” feel. Below the surface you’ll find the best schools in Massachusetts, desirable restaurants, a Relais and Châteaux- status “Inn at Hastings Park,” music venues, art galleries and great shopping. The Hayden Recreation Center and Ice Skating rink (home to casual skating as well as world class skating teams), outdoor exercise trails, artificial turf fields, swimming pools and tennis courts, as well as acres of unspoiled nature trails and much more, offer a depth of recreation and sports facilities.

It’s logical that “big money” previously investing in Wellesley, Weston and Belmont Hill, is seeing the value of Lexington. The number of $2mm and higher sales has multiplied more than seven times over the past six years. There were 27 $2mm+ sales in 2014, up from just 3 in 2009. Local families have been building $5mm – $14mm custom homes in Lexington, but now we are seeing developers building close to $5 million “on spec,” rather than “custom.” (hint: watch the late spring 2014 market!)

Weston, where sales jumped 17% last year to a peak of $1,761,000, seems to react well to a strong economy and many buyers are choosing this well-located suburb.

Its top tier brick and ivy schools rival that of the best New England preparatory schools. It boasts gracious estates old and new, abundant hiking and cross country skiing trails and a quaint, sleepy town center (complete with ice skating rink) that would be comfortable in a Norman Rockwell painting. Weston family life means rubbing shoulders with CEOs and CFOs at the local PTA meetings, the chance to belong to the exclusive Weston Golf Club, and the opportunity to own a large parcel of land in a bucolic setting only 15 minutes from Boston’s financial district.

Burlington, shows a whopping 27% combined increase in sales prices over the past two years.

Young professionals and empty nesters from “tonier” neighboring towns appreciate the central location and easy access to the major commuting routes and have snapped up the smaller homes and condominiums at several new developments.

Along with abundant new construction, Burlington now has destination shopping and dining. For example, think Wayside Commons (LL Bean, Season’s 52, Capital Grill) and the Burlington Mall (Nordstrom’s, Cheesecake Factory, Macy’s). The most recent buzz is about Northwest Park, nestled among high-tech companies such as Oracle. This development is intended to feel like shopping on Boston’s Newbury Street and the anchor stores in this new urban-style restaurant and shopping center include Wegman’s, Kings Bowling and the upscale steakhouse, The Bancroft.

Massachusetts and the US are recovering slowly and steadily, but prices are leaping and bounding in the Greater Boston Suburbs for reasons that are easy to understand.

Click here to see Coldwell Banker’s easy-to-read Average Home Price map for every Massachusetts Town.

To find out what these latest home sale prices mean for YOU, please call me any time.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Crampton

cell 781-389-4400

2015 Tax Rates Have Arrived

The New Year is upon us, and with that comes the new residential tax rates! Below you’ll find a snapshot of several towns in the Greater Boston Area along with their corresponding 2014 and 2015 rates.

Town

2014 Tax Rate

2015 Tax Rate

Difference

NEEDHAM

$11.64

$11.29

($0.35)

BURLINGTON

$12.00

$11.35

($0.65)

WELLESLEY

$11.54

$11.56

$0.02

NEWTON

$12.12

$11.61

($0.51)

WINCHESTER

$12.66

$12.14

($0.52)

WESTON

$12.73

$12.28

($0.45)

BELMONT

$13.50

$12.90

($0.60)

WALTHAM

$13.43

$13.13

($0.30)

ARLINGTON

$13.79

$13.55

($0.24)

LINCOLN

$14.41

$14.15

($0.26)

CONCORD

$14.45

$14.29

($0.16)

BEDFORD

$15.71

$14.62

($1.09)

LEXINGTON

$15.51

$14.86

($0.65)

SUDBURY

$18.03

$17.60

($0.43)

WAYLAND

$18.33

$18.39

$0.06

CARLISLE

$18.64

$19.00

$0.36

ACTON

$19.45

$19.05

($0.40)

Young-Couple-Buying-Home-Header

TAX RATES are something to consider when looking to buy your next home as they make some towns more affordable than others. While I don’t believe it’s a reason to avoid certain towns, it should be something you should consider when comparing homes.

You’ll find that the tax rates for this group of desirable towns start out at $11.29 in fairly urban Needham, and top out at $19.05 in Acton, where there are far less commercial properties. Towns that have more businesses subsidizing the towns’ income, allow for lower residential tax rates. The more suburban or rural towns result in higher taxes.


Lowest Tax Rates (Ranging from $11.29 -$11.61):

  • Needham
  • Burlington
  • Wellesley
  • Newton

Highest Tax Rates (Ranging from $17.60 – $19.05):

  • Sudbury
  • Wayland
  • Carlisle
  • Acton

Average Tax Rates (Ranging from $12.14 – $14.86):

  • Winchester
  • Weston
  • Belmont
  • Waltham
  • Arlington
  • Lincoln
  • Concord
  • Bedford
  • Lexington

 

ConcordAtNight40

 

It’s not very often that we find that the tax rates have decreased, but this year it appears to be the norm. It’s been over 10 years since Lexington tax rates have come down and the 2015 rate is $0.65 lower than in 2014. Our neighbor, Bedford, actually dropped $1.09!  In fact, the average difference in tax rates from 2014 to 2015 in these towns lowered $0.36.

But don’t get overly excited as taxes depend on assessed values just as much on tax rates. While tax rates have dropped in 2015, assessments jumped up considerably in many towns. So while rates are important, the bottom line is how much you are paying.

To calculate your real estate taxes – Just divide the assessed value of your home or the property you are considering buying by 1,000 and multiply that number by the current tax rate. This is the amount you’ll owe for the year. You are billed quarterly and can pay your Town Hall directly, or you can arrange when you get your mortgage to have the bank escrow the taxes as part of your mortgage payment.

 

1167640_523723754366710_266767727_o

You can find more about tax rates, assessments and other helpful information by visiting your Town’s Assessor’s Office website or by calling your Town Hall.

Next week I’ll post the updated Market Stats for 2014, and you’ll understand why assessed values have risen in so many of these towns!