Home Buying in Wellesley>Question Details

Mary, Both Buyer and Seller in Boston, MA

Hi-I'm a bit confused about the pricing of homes in Wellesley, MA. Please help.

Asked by Mary, Boston, MA Wed Mar 4, 2009

Hi-I'm a bit confused about the pricing of homes in Wellesley, MA. I'm looking in the $1M-1.4M range and there are a few beautiful new homes priced around $314-356 per Sq foot range. Then there are several older homes priced in the $560-$584 per sq ft range. Why would I pay over $550 per sq foot for an old home when I can get a new one for $325 range? Why would the older homes be priced higher on a sq foot basis that the new homes?
Thank you in advance.

Help the community by answering this question:


In the Wellesley (and surrounding areas) we don't us a square foot price in determining a homes value but its location within the town overall (some areas are Cliff estates; Sheridanestates, Standish estates, Poets area, Country Club area, Morse Pond area; Sprague/Oak area are just a few) is taken into consideration as well as other location factors such as is it a busy road, a cul-de-sac, is it near the train tracks, is there highway noise,cemetary, high tension wires, etc The exterior condition; interior condition and amenities; style of home and lot size all play a major role in determining price.

Some of the new construction you are talking about are on busy or busier roads and this will impact the price. I think you should be shown the various areas of Wellesley so that you can determine which areas and settings will work best for your lifestyle , family and your goals.

Feel free to call me to discuss the specifics of each of the new construction homes currently available. I have a few reports at my fingertips that I could email to you Let me know. Karen 781-444-7015 Ext. 437
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 4, 2009
Hi Mary -

Great question. I am a big researcher - having said that - my analysis of the relevancy of price per sq ft in determining the asking price of a home in WELLESLEY is.... VERY LITTLE RELEVANCY! While I WILL review price per sq ft -
I do not place significant weight to that in pricing a sellers home...or advising a buyer client.

Price per sq ft CAN be used effectively in negotiations by an experienced buyer agent for their buyer client once an offer is submitted.

Choose a buyer agent who can can do a CMA for the homes you like the most and especially any home you want to put an offer on. Decide a negotiation strategy in advance.

If you would like more in depth advice please give me a call - it would be my pleasure to talk with you.

Mary Condon
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 3, 2009
Sam - Great graphs, visuals are fun to look at. It still comes down to the amenities, condition and location. There was a developer/builder in Norfolk who built million dollar homes, he truly has integrity, unique designs, quality components & mechanicals but bare bones with upgrades and you could purchase it for about 175 sf - great new landscape neighborhood which has tremendous value. Most of course, add upgrades and I'd say he averaged 235 sf for 3800 sf home. He wanted to move his property because real estate is ever changing, a smart business man. The intangible - the emotional connection will always remain a factor affecting the "hard data" people like to use.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 6, 2009
You've gotten some pretty good explanations why you may want to consider homes of varying prices per square foot but I don't think anyone pointed out that the price per square foot changes considerably with the size of the home. For instance, a 4500 square foot home is likely to have a much lower price per square foot when compared to a 1500 square foot home.

You can find a detailed analysis of Price/SqFt by Total SqFt on the http://www.raveis.com website. Just click on local housing data and select your state and town and price range. Then go to Detailed Analysis "Prices" and click on Price per Square Foot.

I hope you find this information helpful.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
It is very difficult to purchase based on price per square foot. The listing price represents what the seller wants, not necessarily true value. When establishing a list price you would need to compare to solds which are comparable, other antiques. Price, Amenities, condition and location, location, location (even within an affluent town) are primary in establishing market value. A great deal of new construction today, due to the extreme cost of the land, may not have the upgrades or bells and whistles that the antique properties may have. I have seen new construction million dollar homes with fiberglass or acrylic bathtub surrounds but ample square footage, high ceilings with detailed crown mouldings. The purchasing of a home is very complex, factoring the emotional connection with a business mindset. Determine where your heart is first, an antique or newer construction and go from there. I'm from the Natick, Wellesley area originally and would love to help you find your dream home. Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
Thank you, Mary. Also, I had addressed your question about River St. in Weston in another post yesterday. Watch out for those busy streets/proximity to highways! Andrea

Andrea Mealey
Showpiece Real Estate, Inc.
Wellesley, MA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
Thank you all for your very thoughtful answers! I will take all your advice into consideration!
Enjoy this nice weather this weekend!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
Dear Mary,

All of the answers given so far have been accurate and very helpful.

Living and working in Wellesley, I can confirm enthusiastically that the location of the property will have a dramatic impact on its value. A house that overlooks Rt. 9 or Rt. 16, even if its address is not on Rt. 9 or Rt. 16, will be valued significantly less than one that is further away from these busy streets. Similarly, if a road is a cut through but not a numbered route, and there are many that are and are thus well traveled, this will have an adverse impact on the price regardless of how lovely the home is. Some streets that fall into this category include Walnut, Glen, Cedar, Brook and Forest. Also be aware of proximity to schools - a blessing and a curse given that you have convenience (if you have children) but you also have traffic, including buses, for pick up, drop off, meetings, voting, use of the playground etc.

Another way to look at the new construction is to consider the builder's standard formula - buy a lot for about 1/3 of the proposed selling price of the property, build the house for 1/3 of the proposed selling price and keep 1/3 as profit. Clearly the formula is only a very rough guideline, but it is one that has been around and is still a starting point for analysis. Thus, if you are building new construction that you hope to sell for $1.4M, your cost of the lot should be less than $500K. This gets difficult in Wellesley and if you look at property that is on below $500K you can see some of the challenges to the location. This obviously carries over to the new house.

Conversely, older homes in more desirable locations may be smaller and cost more per square foot, but you will always have that better location. Busy roads just get busier in my experience. Also, older homes may be better suited to the lot - with larger set backs from neighbors, more yard and mature plantings that act as barriers between properties.

I hope that this additional information is helpful to your analysis. Best of luck!!!

Andrea Mealey
Showpiece Real Estate, Inc.
Wellesley, MA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
Hi Mary:

Another thing to mention is that in Wellesley (and in other suburban towns like Weston and Wayland) pricing doesn't follow a per square foot equation. As the other brokers have mentioned, such factors as location, condition of the home, living area, land area, as well as other features and amenities of the home, contribute to the pricing determination of the home. The best way to determine a fair market value of a home is to look at/analyze the sold comparisons in the town, looking at the factors mentioned above.

I would be very happy to help you with this and/or with any other questions you may have. Please call or email me if I can be of further assistance.


Lisa Williams
CBRB - Weston
781-267-2844 - cell
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 4, 2009
Hi Mary,

The best way I can think of to answer your question is through the eyes of a Buyers' Agent, which I am. I always ask my clients to give me a list of criteria, in order of priority. We then match that to the budget and go from there.

As it turns out, existing homes often (if not always) offer MORE amenities than newly constructed homes. They are often in the most popular neighborhoods (hence the term "Location. Location. Location.") and will yield TOP Dollar. Most of the older homes offer that "charm of yesteryear" that just cannot be duplicated in new construction. It is really a matter of personal taste.

If I may suggest you concentrate on what is most important to you and go from there, you will be most happy in the end. If you prefer to build a new home....you can applaud yourself for saving a few hundred dollars per square foot....Just think of the upgrades you can do!!!!!

Best wishes to you...whichever way you go!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 4, 2009
Hello Mary,
Location, condition, and price!! That's the answer to your question: it is 3-legged stool and all the legs have to be in sync with each other for a property to sell. If , for example, an older home is in the Cliff or Peirce ( oddly that is the correct spelling!) Estates, built in 1938 and sitting on almost an acre of prized land, its strong location will be taken into account in valuing the property. If an older home has been updated with granite/stainless and newer baths, furnace, recent roof, exterior paint, etc., and sits, say, in the Poets' or Presidents' areas on the east side of Wellesley, that home can have a higher value in spite of its age due to its condition and ease of commuting. Lastly, individual preferences add value for any buyer: one buyer may only want renovated or new because they don't want to do any work; another may only want a property to remodel to their particular requirements because they have time and the know-how to tackle that job, and they want to pay less for the property and then improve it uniquely for themselves. One buyer may value location over condition, etc.

It takes an experienced realtor with the right tools and knowledge to price, market and sell each property. I have been representing both buyers and sellers in the Wellesley market for many years. Please visit my website to get further information about me, my listings, and Raveis as a company.

www. propertiesbybarbara,com

I would also encourage you to go to raveis.com where you can do a neighborhood comparison search, see what has been recently sold and also what is currently active, and you can use our LOCAL HOUSING DATA to see trends, price projections, average prices, etc.

I hope I have helped you answer your question.
Barbara Miller, Realtor, CBR
Chairman's Elite Top 5%
Top Producer and New Construction Specialist
William Raveis Real Estate
50 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 4, 2009
One possible reason would be the location of the homes, the size of the lots they're on, architectural detail work that's tough to replicate even in high end new construction. Typically the older homes have better lots in possibly more desirable sections of neighborhoods with mature plantings.

It would come down to what you value & how you feel about each property individually, what your short & long term plans are, family situations, entertainment needs, commuting concerns, taste in style & decoration and dozens of other highly personal & specialized concerns.

Hope that help :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 4, 2009
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