When it comes to Needham real estate, elementary school district is as much a part of the conversation as bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and renovations. In most cases buyers want to know which school district a house is in before even getting to the other specifics about the property. For buyers moving within Needham, this is often important if kids are currently in one of the schools and the buyer is seeking continuity. For buyers coming from out of town, we often find that there are some preconceived notions as to which school district is best from a real estate perspective. Let’s look at the numbers for 2015 and see where buyers spent their money and what they got in return.
Of the 366 sales of single family homes (per MLS), 35% of them sold in Newman. This is not a surprise as Newman is by far the largest of the five districts and also had 35% of the sales in 2014. What may be a surprise, however, is that 18% of the sales were in Mitchell, which is the second smallest district next to Eliot and had only 14% of the town’s sales in 2014. Broadmeadow, which is significantly larger than Mitchell, only represented 19% of the total sales in 2015.
Newman’s $1.132m average sale price is up 13% from last year’s mark of $999k. This is in no small part bolstered by a record 13 sales above $2m (including two sales above $3m). Additionally, there were 38 sales above $1m in Newman, which is the same total as a year ago. The difference in the mix this year is the $2m+ market as there were only three such sales in all of Needham in 2014.
The largest difference in average sales year over year was in Hillside. In 2014, Hillside was supported by 18 sales above $1m and had a town high average sale price of $1.027m. In 2015, the $1m+ sales dropped to nine and the average sale price dipped by 18% to a town low of $844k. Mitchell’s average sale price jumped 6% to $994k, which is slightly below the town average of $1.006m. Eliot and Broadmeadow prices increased by 3% and 1%, respectively over 2014 marks.
Coinciding with Hillside’s decline in average sales price is an increase to its price per square foot, which rose from $345 in 2014 to $380 in 2015. This is reflective of the shift in the mix of homes selling in Hillside during 2015,as smaller homes generally have a higher price per square foot. Mitchell is next at $368 per square foot. The other three districts were all below the town average of $357 per square foot with Eliot coming in at the lowest with $336 per square foot.
From a days on market perspective, Mitchell was the district with the fastest absorption rate at 35 days, well below the town average of 55 days and 12 days quicker than the next shortest turnover: Hillside at 47 days. Newman’s homes took the longest to sell at 66 days, but this is not surprising given that there are fewer prospective buyers looking at homes greater than $1m and even fewer when considering the 13 homes that topped the $2m sales mark. Note: MLS now tracks both days on market and days to offer with the latter being a more telling number as to how quickly the market absorbs a property. Stay tuned next year for the first full year of that data being available.
The average size of a Needham sale in 2015 was 2,973 square feet. Newman and Broadmeadow both averaged above 3,000 square feet with the smallest homes selling in Hillside at an average of 2,320 square feet.
On an overall basis, buyers got the most house for their money in Eliot, where 51 buyers purchased homes close to the mean in size but for 6% less on a per square foot basis than the town average. Buyers spent more and got more in Newman, and year over year numbers indicate that this is a trend rather than a 2015 statistical anomaly. Otherwise, there are pros and cons to the remaining districts in terms of value. You may spend less in Hillside, but the house is smaller and the price per square foot is higher. Mitchell is no bargain at an average price close to the mean but a price per square foot that is 3% higher than the rest of the town combined. Broadmeadow is closer to Newman in price and price per square foot, but the homes and lots are generally a bit smaller.
All in all, 2015 was a very strong year for Needham real estate. We’re counting on this trend continuing into 2016 and beyond and we will be here to recap the numbers next January. Happy New Year Needham.