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The Boston Globe

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Top 11 Mass. cities and towns for home values

These communities had higher single-family home values in 2011 than they did before the economic downturn.

BROOKLINE: Median home price in 2011, $1,188,750; change in value since 2005, 6.1%.

BROOKLINE: Median home price in 2011, $1,188,750; change in value since 2005, 6.1%.

The effects of the recession, which officially ended in June 2009, are still being felt as home values in the vast majority of Massachusetts communities remain depressed. The statewide median price for a single-family home in 2011 was $286,000, a 19 percent drop from the median price in 2005, the market peak, according to the Warren Group, a Boston-based real-estate information company.

Despite the odds, 11 Massachusetts communities have managed to surpass pre-recessionary values. Almost all of the lucky few are in Eastern Massachusetts: Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, downtown Boston, Jamaica Plain, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marion, Rockport, Somerville, and Winchester. The only winner elsewhere in the state? Great Barrington, not far from the New York border. To create this list we crunched median single-family home prices for 2005 and 2011 collected by the Warren Group; to avoid skewed data, communities with fewer than 50 sales last year were eliminated from consideration.

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Many of these cities and towns are considered to be some of the more popular or elite in Massachusetts, says Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren. “I do think that it’s probably fairly typical to have the early signs or the best rebound in communities that are the most popular,” he says. Some of the winning communities — such as Somerville, Charlestown, and Jamaica Plain — are especially attractive to young professionals, particularly since home prices in these spots are more within reach (though still well over the state median).

For Coldwell Banker realtor Gail Roberts, the success of the housing market in Cambridge has to do with location, location, location. The city’s proximity to Boston and access to the arts, public transportation, and academic institutions attract people, she says. “We’re sort of a destination city,” Roberts adds. Fred Mills, a realtor at Bean Group, says location also plays a major role in Manchester-by-the-Sea’s single-family home values. “It’s pretty easy to sell the quality of life in Manchester,” he says. “You’ve got great schools, a beautiful beach, a nice downtown, and good civic activities.” Desirability greatly influences the market in Marion on Buzzards Bay, according to Kathleen Feeney, owner of Converse Company Realtors. “I can’t attribute the increase to anything other than this is a wonderful community,” she says. Feeney adds that because the town had retained value during the recession, banks have appeared to be more willing to lend to prospective buyers there.  

Here’s a closer look at the chart-topping cities and towns, with examples of homes for sale near the community’s median price:

BROOKLINE

Median home price in 2011: $1,188,750

Change in value since 2005: 6.1%

Population: 58,732

On the market:

125 Addington Road

$1,275,000

5 bedrooms, 2 baths, 3,591 square feet, 0.14 acre

(Mary Gillach, the Gillach Group, 617-935-9290, thegillachgroup.com)

CAMBRIDGE

Median home price in 2011: $735,500

Change in value since 2005: 10.2%

Population: 105,162

On the market:

5 Walden Mews

$729,000

3 bedrooms, 2 full/1 half baths, 1,956 square feet, 0.04 acre

(Elizabeth Bolton, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 617-504-1737, nemoves.com)

CHARLESTOWN

Median home price in 2011: $620,000

Change in value since 2005: 2.6%

Population: 16,439

On the market:

108 Bartlett Street

$619,000

3 bedrooms, 2 full/1 half baths, 1,430 square feet, 0.23 acre

(Jennifer Schneider, Century 21 Elite, 617-241-5566, c21elite.com)

DOWNTOWN BOSTON

(Back Bay, Beacon Hill, West End, North End, Waterfront, Financial District, Chinatown, South End, and Fenway)

Median home price in 2011: $1,935,000

Change in value since 2005: 43.2%

Population: 117,305

On the market:

9 Columbus Square, South End

$1,849,000

5 bedrooms, 2 baths, 4,435 square feet, 0.04 acre

(S. Fulani Butler and Barbara Cowley, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, 617-270-6078, gibsonsothebysrealty.com)

GREAT BARRINGTON

Median home price in 2011: $288,000

Change in value since 2005: 1.1%

Population: 2,231

On the market:

6-8 High Street

$286,500

3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 1,776 square feet, 0.15 acre

(Tim Donnelly, Wheeler & Taylor Realty Co., 413-528-1006 ext. 353, wheelerandtaylor.com)

JAMAICA PLAIN

Median home price in 2011: $500,500

Change in value since 2005: 0.5%

Population: 37,468

On the market:

6 Surrey Hill Lane

$559,000

3 bedrooms, 1 full/1 half baths, 1,950 square feet, 0.19 acre

(Kathy Halley, Hammond Residential, 617-935-9294, hammondre.com

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA

Median home price in 2011: $780,750

Change in value since 2005: 7.7%

Population: 5,136

On the market:

10 Forest Lane

$779,000

3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2,400 square feet, 1.72 acres

(Ida Doane, J. Barrett & Co., 978-865-1127, jbarrettrealty.com)

MARION

Median home price in 2011: $460,000

Change in value since 2005: 3.4%

Population: 4,907

On the market:

11 Rose Cottage Lane

$489,000

3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,440 square feet, 0.29 acre

(Margot Kalkanis, Converse Co. Realtors, 508-748-0200, conversecompanyrealtors.com)

ROCKPORT

Median home price in 2011: $447,500

Change in value since 2005: 0.6%

Population: 4,966

On the market:

94 Marmion Way

$499,000

3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,280 square feet, 0.47 acre

(Patrick Beaton, Beaton Real Estate, 978-546-6474, beatonhomes.com)

SOMERVILLE

Median home price in 2011: $445,000

Change in value since 2005: 3.9%

Population: 75,754

On the market :

25 Warwick Street

$449,000

3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 1,141 square feet, 0.07 acre (Thalia Tringo, Thalia Tringo and Associates Real Estate, 617-616-5091, thaliarealtor.com)

WINCHESTER

Median home price in 2011: $739,900

Change in value since 2005: 0.6%

Population: 21,374

On the market:

120 Forest Street

$729,900

3 bedrooms, 2 full/1 half baths, 1,908 square feet, 0.46 acre

(Nancy O’Herron, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 781-729-7290, nemoves.com)

Saumya Vaishampayan is a Tufts University senior studying quantitative economics. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.
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