The westernmost county in Massachusetts has much to offer visitors, home buyers and property investors. This region has a long history as a resort community and vacation getaway. In the early 1900s, folks from Boston used to retreat to this area and enjoy the cool mountain air in the summer. Old summer cottages that have found new life as bed and breakfasts dot the country.
Modern visitors can enjoy special events such as the summer concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. The sculptor Alexander Calder used to live in Pittsfield, and you can see some of his famous mobile sculptures at the local museum. Norman Rockwell, the American illustrator, has a dedicated museum in Stockbridge. Fans of contemporary art will want to visit the Mass MoCA facility in North Adams.
For a bird’s eye view of the whole area, take a hike on the Appalachian Trail to the top of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. From this vantage point, you will see all the natural beauty that western Massachusetts has to offer.
A Growing Residential Real Estate Market
If you are looking for an investment property, this part of Massachusetts has some interesting options. Historically, the region sustained itself through agriculture and the industrial mills built along the Housatonic River. Like much of New England, this kind of industry began to leave the area in the mid-1900s. The population in mill cities went into decline.
However, the county has seen a resurgence in population in recent years, and realtors frequently have the challenge of matching their property inventory to the demand. There are several reasons that Berkshire County has become a growing property market.
A Haven for Remote Workers
When you are not bound to an office building, this part of the state is a pleasant place to live. There are plenty of options for young families to explore on the weekends. Property values are lower than in other parts of the state. The general pace of life is slower and more relaxed than in nearby cities.
To support remote workers, homes must have access to high-speed internet. Communities such as Pittsfield and North Adams have worked hard to upgrade the necessary infrastructure for fiber optic cable. Big-city employees can enjoy the charms and community of smaller towns while working with the internet speeds they need to be productive.
If you are looking at potential investment properties, internet capability is a critical amenity. Access to some form of high-speed internet could be the difference between a successful sale or a reduced price.
A Convenient Second Home
Western Massachusetts is also becoming an attractive market to residents of large cities who are looking for a summer or weekend home. For example, Stockbridge is conveniently located near Interstate 90. It is an hour to the Capital Region of New York, two hours from Boston and about three hours from New York City. City dwellers find this to be an accessible drive for a convenient escape from the crowds and noise.
Although this veers into the realm of commercial property, there are opportunities to turn small residential homes into short-term rentals. Because of the proximity to large cities, there is always someone looking for a brief getaway. Whether people are seeking the mountain breezes for a summer week or a weekend escape, there are income opportunities for a wise residential investor.
What sort of residential properties are available?
Because more people are interested in owning property in this part of the state, the inventory is in constant flux. However, there is normally a broad range of properties that are on the market at any given time.
The history of the area as an escape for wealthy Bostonians means that there are many historic, multi-million dollar homes in western Massachusetts, especially around Lenox and Great Barrington. These are large homes that could house a wealthy family and their guests. As such, they have beautiful amenities and spectacular views of the region.
In the former industrial areas of Pittsfield and North Adams, the market is a bit less expensive. In this area, you can find affordable single and multi-family homes. You will see properties in settings that range from rural and woodland houses to neighborhood houses in one of the communities. Homes within town limits are the most likely to have access to high-speed internet.
In the mid-range, the region has seen a growing number of new construction projects. Many of these are located near the area’s larger communities like Lee, Pittsfield and Lenox. With a recently-built home, you will have an attractive investment property without the repair challenges that can accompany an older building.
Commercial Property Possibilities
With the growth in residential properties comes an increase in the need for area services. It is unlikely that manufacturing will return to the region anytime soon. As in other parts of the country, developers have repurposed some of the old mill buildings for retail and residential spaces.
Some of the strongest commercial investment properties are those that can be subdivided into space for smaller offices. New residents will need local medical, legal and counseling services. The nature of the area lends itself to small practices rather than large-scale businesses.
With the growing popularity of the area, it could be wise to invest in a space that could be the headquarters of a small company or a branch of a larger enterprise. Once again, with improved internet infrastructure, businesses are beginning to see the advantages of locating in an area with a smaller population and a lower cost of living.
As more big-city residents spend summers and weekends in the area, there will be a demand for upscale independent shops and unique restaurants. An older building might find new life as a trendy local destination. There are several locations in the region where large, open mill floors have transformed into small shopping centers.
Finally, the demand for hotel rooms and other hospitality services is on the rise. This county is ideal for someone who wants to try running a bed and breakfast or a small resort. Turnkey homes and facilities for this purpose regularly come onto the market.
Working with the Right Partner
The Berkshire County real estate market is on the move. A dedicated real estate agent can help you find the right property to meet your investment needs. Contact us today to learn more about our current listings.