December 25, 2017

A tight housing market continues to push prices, downtown visions will be realized

Nathan Fiske
Construction crews have been working for more than a year on a mixed use development on Front Street.

The trends are going in the right direction for homeowners: an increase in prices and a sharp drop this year in foreclosures, both in Central Massachusetts and across the state. A tight supply market means finding a home is more difficult.

Without a major change on the horizon to affect prices – such as a significant economic downturn or an unprecedented building boom – 2018 appears likely to see the same storylines as 2017.

Higher and higher prices

Single-family homes Worcester County were selling at an average of $259,000 through the first 10 months of the year, a jump of 5.7 percent over the same period in 2016.

The market remains tight, though. The number of sales for the year increased only by 1.5 percent.

Grant Welker
The Emerson Green development in Devens

There may be a reprieve on the horizon, if it comes soon enough. Gov. Charlie Baker announced in December his Housing Choice Initiative, calling for 135,000 new housing units by 2025.

Major foreclosure decrease

Through October, foreclosure petitions – the first step in the foreclosure process – were down in Worcester County by 22 percent.

Foreclosure auctions and deeds are also down for the year.

Petitions for foreclosures fell in nine of the first 10 months of the year, with October having the largest year-over-year decline, according to Boston real estate informatoin firm The Warren Group. October brought foreclosure petitions down to the lowest level since February 2014.

A realization of downtown Worcester

Much of the development envisioned to take the footprint of the former Worcester Galleria mall has come to fruition, including a reborn Mercantile Center office tower and Saint Vincent Cancer & Wellness Center.

But the type of development getting people the most excited, such as new neighborhood residents and restaurants, will finally become reality in 2018.

A 170-room AC Hotel is slated to open in March, around the same time that the first of 365 residential units open at the adjacent 145 Front at City Square development.

The hotel will feature a 110 Grill and the apartment building a location by the healthy-eating restaurant chain Protein House.

Restaurant space is also available at Mercantile Center, and just on the other side of the Worcester Common at the Grid District, a beer garden could open by March, and Stix, an Asian noodle restaurant next door by October.

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