Homes in these modestly priced towns are getting expensive fast

Buying Braintree Charlestown Medford Melrose Weymouth
Weymouth, MA--529/2014-- The view from Great Hill, in Weymouth, is photographed, on Thursday, May 29, 2014.  
Photos by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Topic:  15sovista
Reporter:  Rich Fahey
The view from Great Hill in Weymouth, where home prices rose 12 percent in the past year, bursting through the $300,000 barrier. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Home prices are on the rise in a broad swath of modestly-priced towns across Greater Boston, even as values are cooling in some of the most expensive suburbs.

A number of towns and small cities with strong blue-collar roots, including Marlborough, Revere and Weymouth, are leaving the $200,000s behind as their median home prices rise into the $300,000s.

Several other suburbs that have traditionally been affordable alternatives are seeing their median prices push deeper into the $300,000s or cross into the $400,000s, such as Woburn and Braintree, according to stats from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

The upsurge in pricing may not be all that welcome for middle-class buyers struggling to keep up with an ever more expensive housing market.

But it is good news for homeowners with plans to sell in these towns.

While home prices have been rising for years now in the most expensive suburbs, with barely a pause during the Great Recession, that dynamic appears to be shifting. Prices in some high-end communities are peaking, even as their more moderately priced neighbors take off.

“This is a classic case of a rising tide lifting all boats,” said David Crowley, strategic real estate advisor at One Boston Real Estate.

After years of being bargain choices, a growing number of moderately priced suburbs are now catching up with rest of the Boston area.

Marlborough has enjoyed one of the bigger run-ups in home values over the past year, rising 16 percent. Last April, the median price of a home in the blue-collar city out on I-495 was $286,500. It ended this April at $331,000, Warren Group stats show. Sales have jumped by nearly half during the same period.

Just off Route 2, Shirley and Ayer, two of the three towns that border Devens, are also poised to leave the $300,000s behind. Long in the shadow of their wealthy neighbor, the town of Harvard, Ayer’s median price is now $300,000 after a 2 percent bump, while in Shirley’s is now $286,000 after a 19 percent rise, according to The Warren Group.

Just to the south of Boston and closer in, Weymouth has made a similar transition, going from $299,000 to $333,625, or a 12 percent rise.

On the north side of Boston in the inner suburbs, Revere’s median home price leaped from $285,000 to $335,000, an 18 percent increase.

Increasing demand recently pushed Everett into the $300,000s, rising 10 percent to $337,000, Warren Group stats show.

Prices are on the rise in these towns as buyers, priced out of more expensive zip codes, look for more affordable alternatives.

“Buyers who previously looked to Medford or Malden or even Charlestown as lower cost options are now migrating to Everett as prices in those other towns rise out of reach,” Crowley said.

A step up on the price scale, several other suburbs long considered solidly affordable, middle market options are also seeing big changes.

Framingham, Malden and Tewksbury are all now in the $350,000 to $370,000 price range, while Woburn, Braintree and Franklin have both crossed into the $400,000s, according to The Warren Group.

Meanwhile, Melrose and Medford are headed towards the $500,000 mark, while Natick and Waltham have crossed that price mark.

Re Gibson, an agent with Real Living Realty Group in Franklin, is seeing buyers now compete for homes in the suburbs along the I-95 Boston-to-Providence corridor.

She recently worked with a buyer who lost three bids for Capes and other modest single-family homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range in Franklin, Mendon and Bellingham.

“We are seeing multiple offers – we have buyers on a waiting list for homes to come on the market,” Gibson said.