Is Watertown still the cheap alternative to Cambridge?

Even Watertown has trendy converted condos now, as in the Mount Auburn Village resideProvided

If there’s one thing about Watertown that has traditionally appealed to renters and homebuyers, it is affordability. Compared to prices its neighbors Cambridge and Belmont command, that is. And, conveniently located just 20 minutes drive from the Back Bay, H2Otown home costs are a far cry from big city pricing. However, lower home prices could be a thing of the past in Watertown.


“Watertown used to be a more affordable town, but that has changed quite a bit over the years,” says Wendy Rocca, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty International. “Watertown is in the process of many changes. We have experienced major growth of new apartment buildings, new condo buildings, and more construction happening everywhere.”


Still, homes are snapped up. As with last year, the 2015 spring market has seen bidding wars for home sales and rents rising. “Our location, amenities, and jobs have really driven our prices up. Many renters would love to own a home here, but just can't afford it.”


Rocca, a longtime Watertownie, loves the community, which is why she and her family have called it home for 28 years: “Our real estate tax base is more reasonable than some of our surrounding towns. We have many young families trying to find the right home, and we have the young professionals who love Watertown because of the accessibility to public transportation and abundant restaurants. Cambridge is just around the corner. It’s approximately five miles to Boston and an easy cab ride for your night out,” she says. The lack of a T station doesn’t seem to bother residents. “Watertown Square has direct buses right into Boston and many locations. Also, we have the buses that take you to Harvard Square for the Red Line. We're very accessible,” Rocca adds.


Another plus for residents is the stemming of oversees investors, who in recent years when prices were cheap were snapping up multi-families purely for investment: a death blow to any community. “Since multi-family homes have risen dramatically in price this year, it's less of an investor market than it was a few years ago. If an investor purchases a multi-unit home, most often they will convert to condos.”

Rocca, who has homes for sale in Belmont and Brookline, but none in Watertown, gives Metro an approximate breakdown of homes available in Watertown: “Single family: 38 this year versus 34 last year. Condos: 70 this year verses 122 last year. Multi-family: 19 this year verses 30 last year. Currently our available inventory is really low,” she says.

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