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Somerville: A Mini-City with Maximum Resources

Celebrating the 175th anniversary of its separation from Charlestown in 1842, Somerville is a 4.2 square mile city located directly northwest of Boston. Situated on the west bank of the Mystic River, it is bordered by Cambridge, Arlington, Medford, Everett and Charlestown. Due to its proximity to Harvard, Lesley, Tufts and MIT, the city is home to a constant stream of college students and young professionals. Somerville is served by the MBTA’s Orange Line at Assembly Square and the Red Line at Davis Square.

The city was first settled in 1629 with most of the land used for grazing and farming.  By 1775 there were close to 500 residents. One of the first hostile acts of the Revolutionary War took place in Somerville: the raiding of gunpowder by British soldiers from the Old Powder House, which stood on what is now Powder House Square. After the Revolution, brickmaking, dairy farming and quarrying became the city’s predominant occupations. 

New transportation routes, including the opening of the Middlesex Canal, the Medford and Beacon Street turnpikes, and the Fitchburg Railroad, led to an increase in population and job opportunities. The Late Industrial Period (1870-1915) was a time of phenomenal growth for Somerville, with its population increasing to 90,000 and the proliferation of civic and commercial ventures. Infrastructure including railroads, water lines, telegraph and electricity were established and helped connect Somerville to surrounding towns.

However, by the middle of the 20th century, both industry and population began to decline, a trend that lasted until the mid-1980s. In 1984, the MBTA brought the Red Line into Davis Square, which served as a catalyst for revitalizing the city. Gentrification began in earnest in the 1990s and today Somerville is recognized for its active arts community, near-zero commercial vacancy and effective government.  It received the All-America City Award in 1972, in 2009 and again in 2015. 

The city’s residents enjoy its historic, recreational and cultural venues. Somerville has 83 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 63 parks, playgrounds, playing fields, and community gardens. The Somerville Community Path is a tree-lined rail trail that runs from Lowell Street to the Cambridge border near Davis Square. Other attractions include The Museum of Bad Art, Legoland Discovery Center, the Somerville Museum and Prospect Hill Tower. Davis Square is an entertainment and dining destination where residents enjoy concerts, films and festivals as well as a diverse selection of eateries.

The Assembly Square Neighborhood is home to Assembly Row, a 45 acre. mixed-use, development that features premium retail outlets, restaurants, residential space, state-of-the-art office and research and development space, a 12-screen cinema and a 200-room hotel. Other amenities include a marina, revitalized waterfront park, bike paths and green space.

The Somerville Public Schools encompass 10 facilities including early childhood, PK – 8, 6-12, bilingual English/Spanish and a high school. There are three branches of the city’s public library, offering book clubs, kids programs, classes and even Yoga lessons.

The gentrification of Somerville brought the development of numerous townhomes and condos, although there are several single-family homes available. Current listings as of May, 2017 include a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condo for $489,000; a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath attached single-family home for $569,000; a 4-bedroom, 2-bath condo for $650,000 and a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath single-family for $1,090,000. Find a MABA agent who is knowledgeable about Somerville real estate right here.


Latest from the Blog

  • Massachusetts Pending Home Sales and Median Price Up Again in June

    The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) reported today that single-family pending home sales were up over nine percent in June from last year. Pending condominium sales were also up more than 12 percent. The median price for both single-family homes and condos saw a hike, with the single-family median price rising over the $400,000 mark. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices dipped slightly in June. This month’s “Hot Topic” question finds that the majority of Realtors® surveyed have had at least one transaction that was an all-cash deal (i.e. no mortgage involved) since the beginning of the year.

    June Pending Sales: 

    Single Family June 2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 6,723 6,128 9.7%
    Median Price $410,000 $380,000 7.9%
    • Pending sales have been up 51 of the last 52 months 
    Condominium June2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 2,596 2,307 12.5%
    Median Price $370,000 $349,900 2.9%
    • Pending sales have been up or flat 20 of the last 22 months 

    “The increase in homes put under agreement this month may be a positive sign for a spring market that has suffered plummeting inventory,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “However, median prices have continued to rise, which can push some buyers out of the market.”

    Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes: 

    Confidence Index June2017 June2016 %Change
    Market 80.73 80.97 -0.29%
    Price 71.79 73.87 -2.82%
    • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index went down for the first time in 27 months
    • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index went down for the first time in six months
    • Measured on a 100-point scale, a score of 50 is the midpoint between a “strong” (100 points) and a “weak” (0 points) market condition  

    “The Realtor® Market Confidence Index has dipped year-over-year for the first time in over two years, indicating that Realtors® are growing concerned about some of their buyers being able to succeed in this market,” said Yorkis. “However, both indexes reveal that ultimately Realtors® remain positive. We just need to see more inventory to keep up with the demand.”

    With home inventory being as tight as it is, you want to give yourself every advantage if you are thinking of buying a home in Massachusetts. For the best possible experience, be sure to work with an agent who is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents.