At the epicenter of this regional real estate boom is Boston itself, where six swaths of the city (Mission Hill, South Boston, Brighton, Allston, East Boston, and Roxbury) have seen median prices rise at a 70 percent clip or better in the past five years, looking at both single-family homes and condos.
Prices have climbed 52 percent in Hyde Park, making it one of just a few pockets in the city where you can typically find a single-family home for under $500,000. Realtor Tierney says “the affordability definitely plays a role” in bringing buyers to this rather distant corner of the city, but so do its amenities and conveniences, including three commuter rail lines, and “a lot of old Victorian homes you can’t find everywhere.” There’s also an impressive 19th-century outpost of the Boston Public Library and the Neponset River and Blue Hills reservations near your doorstep.
The fastest five-year growth in the city happened in condo-heavy Mission Hill, which saw median prices climb 79 percent to lead the $500,000-$750,000 category. John Neale, a partner at Sprogis & Neale in the South End, says a big reason is the proximity to Longwood. “For people who want to walk to the hospitals, it’s a great location,” Neale says. Doctors can’t be late when their shift starts, he notes, and with traffic and public transit increasingly fraught with delays, they like knowing they can walk to work if necessary.
In the $750,000-$1 million catgory, South Boston’s scorching price growth means it has emerged as a new competitor to the South End, Neale says, because it offers something traditional rivals Beacon Hill and the Back Bay cannot: room to build. Between the blank asphalt canvas that was once the South Boston waterfront and the clumsy urban renewal that punched holes in the South End’s historic district, “both neighborhoods have significant opportunities for new construction, whereas Beacon Hill and Back Bay don’t.”
In addition to the shiny luxury developments of the Seaport District, the areas near Southie’s Red Line stops are fast getting built up, driven by people who want quick commutes. “You can walk across the bridge to Whole Foods from West Broadway, and that little corner of South Boston has just seen explosive growth,” Neale says, outpacing the traditionally desirable City Point neighborhood near Castle Island.
Prices in the South End aren’t growing as rapidly as in Southie, but the neighborhood’s median broke the $1 million mark, thanks to being within walking distance of many of the city’s office buildings. It’s also surprisingly close to Logan Airport, Neale says, with only a handful of stop lights on the way. And because the blocks aren’t separated into commercial and residential zones the way much of the Back Bay is, the South End charms with a New York-style blend of residential and retail space.
Meanwhile, between new construction mid-rises like Ink Block (where empty nesters can allay their parking anxiety), and the brick Victorian row houses of the Landmark District (where outdoor space is possible), the South End has something for almost every buyer — at least, those with deep pockets.
THE WINNING BOSTON NEIGHBORHOODS IN FOUR PRICE CATEGORIES
■ Under $500,000 — Hyde Park
Median home price: $459,000
Change since 2013: +52 percent
■ $500,000 to $750,000 — Mission Hill
Median home price: $641,500
Change since 2013: +79 percent
■ $750,000 to $1 million — South Boston
Median home price: $815,500
Change since 2013: +77 percent
■ Over $1 million — South End
Median home price: $1,066,500
Change since 2013: +56 percent
ALSO TRENDING IN BOSTON, BASED ON MEDIAN SINGLE-FAMILY PRICES*
■ East Boston — $543,500
■ Brighton — $547,500
■ Roxbury — $550,000
■ Dorchester — $552,000
■ Allston — $678,500
■ Cambridge — $919,000
* Combines single-family and condo
WHAT’S AVAILABLE FOR THE MEDIAN SINGLE-FAMILY SALES PRICE IN BOSTON*
SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSE: 23 Brush Hill Terrace, Hyde Park
■ Price: $599,000
■ Bedrooms: 3
■ Bathrooms: 2 full
■ Square feet: 1,400
■ Lot size: 0.17 acre
■ Downtown Boston: 11 miles
This 1950 Cape on the Milton line has an updated kitchen and lush backyard with pool.
CONDOMINIUM: 33 Condor Street #2, East Boston
■ Price: $599,000
■ Bedrooms: 2
■ Bathrooms: 2 full, 1 half
Square feet: 1,039
Condo fee: $200 a month
Downtown Boston: 3 miles
The completely renovated second-floor unit in this Eagle Hill three-decker includes a porch and a luxurious master bath with double vanity.
* In 2018, median sales prices for single-family houses in the Boston area broke $600,000 for the first time since the Greater Boston Association of Realtors began tracking home prices, as half of homes sold for more than $610,000.
Jon Gorey is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Additional reporting by Lilly Milman. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.