You’ve heard the comparisons before, and they’re only becoming more frequent.
“[Somerville] is the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, of Massachusetts,” says O’Necia Simpson, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Cambridge. “There is a tremendous influx of millennial foodies, the young, educated tech guru and the hipster starter family all throughout Somerville.”
But don’t for a second think it’s just the skinny jeans and organic coffee that’ll make you think of Brooklyn. Just like the New York borough, real estate price tags in Somerville are still skyrocketing. Simpson says one-to-two bedroom rentals in Somerville’s Davis Square area range from $1,900 to $3,000 per month, while the average sale price of a two-bed, one-bath condo can be $500,000 to $700,000.
And don’t get your hopes up for a single-family home; if one does end up on the market (which they rarely do) the price tags are brutal.
“There are rarely any single families available, and a healthy budget for one starts at roughly $850,000 to well over $1 million,” says Simpson.
Simpson has witnessed Somerville’s boom firsthand. Seven years ago, she and her husband purchased a townhouse condo beside an empty industrial site. Within two years, the entire site was redeveloped into the Windsor at Maxwell’s Green complex, which was filled within a year. Though the two-bed, three-and-a-half bath townhouses originally sold for around $645,000 in 2013, by 2016 some of the same units sold for over $1 million.
“There is almost always a bidding war on most properties and a lot of times you are going up against investors with cash,” adds Simpson.
Most realtors agree their clients are attracted to the neighborhood for the same characteristics. Thalia Tringo, broker/owner of Thalia Tringo & Associates Real Estate, says the most common reasons she hears for choosing Somerville are its walkability to shops and restaurants, and public transit access.
“All of Somerville attracts interest, but the neighborhoods that usually garner the most interest and highest prices are the ones within .75 miles of a subway stop,” says Tringo.
Davis Square continues to be the most highly coveted Somerville neighborhood, while Union Square’s boom in popularity is obvious, and will become only more so with the Green Line Extension. Ball Square and Teele Square are often picked for their “calmer, laid-back vibe,” says Simpson.
And with more Somerville residents choosing to bypass the suburbs once they have children, the city’s desirability only continues to increase — as do the number of children you see around the neighborhood.
“Seven years ago there were hardly any young kids on our street — now it’s as if everyone has a stroller, a baby attached to them or a bun in the oven,” says Simpson, who herself has twin daughters. “Everyone wants an urban life and are willing to pay a pretty penny for it.”