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Old 05-12-2013, 08:49 PM
4 posts, read 36,766 times
Reputation: 21


Hi guys, I'm new to the forum and will be new to MA. I'm moving to Worcester to start a job at UMass, and we're going to rent a place around Shrewsbury St since it's close to work and walkable to restaurants and bars. When we saw the price of housing in the area, we realized that we would be able to afford to buy a place (with 20% down payment) within the next year.

Do you think that buying a condo or house in this area of Worcester is a good investment? If we outgrow it in 5 years when we expand our family, I thought we could rent it out to incoming UMass med students/residents/staff if it does not retain its property value. Or, should we wait a few more years to buy our first place in Shrewsbury, where the school systems are better and might have better property value?

I'd appreciate any input! Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:06 AM
97 posts, read 204,353 times
Reputation: 130
Worcester native here, and here are my two cents.

When I was looking at buying a home about a year ago, I looked all over central MA -- tried to either get the sweet-spot between my extended family in Worcester and the office in Cambridge or just live in Worcester and deal with the commute. I looked around at a LOT of homes in Worcester and for what I could buy in points eastward (Shrewsbury, Framingham, Natick, etc.), I could afford a house in the nicest part of Worcester (the northwestern quadrant -- referred to as West Tatnuck or simply "Salisbury Street").

Even a year later, check this out. That's a Redfin search for Worcester properties for sale at $500K and above. This is the same search for Shrewsbury.

My gut at the time told me not to buy in Worcester, despite what I could've afforded. My commute played a small part in that, but it was mostly just stepping back and looking at Worcester as a whole and why the prices were relatively very low. I realized that the prices are low in Worcester because Worcester just isn't desirable anymore. There are too many dead-end jobs for people who aren't tradesmen, fortunate business owners, or in one of the professions. The per-capita income, even if you just included those employed, is really quite low and isn't moving in the right direction. Not only this, but there is a lot of poverty in Worcester itself, which often leads to crime... not violent crime necessarily, but car/home robberies and other forms of larceny. Enough to make you not feel entirely safe. The area in which you're looking has some of these issues with crime. It's close to downtown and break-ins are not uncommon. I'm not trying to scare you, but these are the realities of the area.

Now, I know you're asking about resale/investment strategy. The housing market in points eastward has rebounded and it is insanely difficult to buy right now (low inventory, bidding wars, etc), but Worcester real estate is still very stagnant -- likely because of the reasons aforementioned. This is something to consider deeply as you'll probably be renting it when you're ready to buy somewhere else. As I'm sure you know, renting a property is a gamble -- especially when it's a condo, because a bad tenant could potentially destroy everything you own (the interior of the apartment that you bought) in your investment.

If your goal is to settle in an area that is NOT Worcester and you're looking to stay for less than 5 years, I'd say rent, save, and avoid any future hiccups with renting. Despite what some claim, renting oftentimes makes better financial sense and there are some decent apartments around Worcester. I would not consider any property in Worcester to be a wise investment. There just isn't anything on the horizon that will draw people to the city. I think the real estate market indicates that. Sounds bleak, I know.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:41 PM
Location: 01564
6 posts, read 7,629 times
Reputation: 12
Ok, relatively new resident here (4 years). We moved up here from Birmingham for UMass. The housing situation in MA and Worcester is better than anywhere outside NY and San Francisco. The housing prices have stabilized and are creeping up in the upper registers and there is NOT a glut of single family homes on the market. Much different from Jefferson and Shelby Counties of where we came from.

Renting is a very good idea in the short term (6mos - 1 year), mostly because there are SO MANY places to live around Worcester that are radically different from each other.

Elm Park, Worcester: Downtown (practically), urban, older houses (100 years +), rentals available, pricey but worth it if you're heavy into semi-urban living.

Shrewsbury: semi-bedroom community but VERY close. Soccer mom's, Volvo's, very friendly.

W. Boylston: gritty, close knit bedroom community. Very short commute (10 minutes), lots of community spirit, small town atmosphere.

Sterling: upper class but not QUITE snotty. Pricey, but worth it. Very community oriented, even the Tea Party idiots are nice.

Harvard: Possibly the best public school IN THE NATION. Quite pricey, but if that's what it takes to float your boat ...

Sturbridge: lower socio-economic stratum, but the prices are lower and the landscape is FABULOUS. It's like being in West Tennessee without the mosquitoes. Still got the rednecks, tho.

Rutland: Got Horses?

and so on and so on. You really need to find the area that attracts you. And you can't do it on one weekend.
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