Investing out in The Berkshires

15 Replies

I was wondering if anyone on here has experience investing out in The Berkshires? I have a ton of family out there and I'm starting to think it would not be a bad place to consider for future investing.

@Steve DellaPelle Berkshire County is an interesting place.  

- Very low market activity - there are currently only 78 SFRs on the market in the entire county.

- Mostly very low prices, but with a few very high price outliers.  

The average sale price was $342K over the last 6 months.  If you remove the three $3M+ outliers, that number drops to $218K with an average of 153 DOM, which is slower than eastern MA.  

Berkshire County saw 70 SFR sales in the last 6 months. Compare that to Plymouth County with 3,587 and Middlesex County with 5,667.

There was one SFR in Pittsfield that needed to be finished (sounds like it was mostly gutted) 7/3/1.5 that sold for $18K.

Like I said - it's an interesting place - and I'm glad I'm not trying to make it as a full time real estate agent there!

@Charlie MacPherson Thanks for the response! It does sound very interesting...from what I saw in a few other posts, this area does not have great appreciation value and like you said it does not have a lot of activity.

However, I am more of a Buy & Hold investor so I am hoping to hear some positivity.

@Charlie MacPherson I'm wondering about your information... there have to be way more than 78 SFRs in the COUNTY for sale! That simply makes no sense. The county population is about 130,000. If I go on zillow, admittedly an imperfect source of data, and I filter for "Houses" (unchecked "Apartments" and "Land" etc.) in Berkshire County that are worth over $50k (to filter out auction/vacant etc.) there are 810 homes for sale! Just the website of one realtor, Steepleview, lists 53 single family homes and that is only their own listings. Some are under contract, but still. Realtor.com has 20 SFRs for sale in Dalton (pop. 7000) and 46 homes for sale in Lee (pop. 6000). 125 SFRs are on the market in Pittsfield alone, filtering out "pending/under contract". The Berkshires is rural, but it's not the Ozarks.

You can find great deals and cash flowing apartments (I'm not that interested in single families, although I just bought one at auction that was an amazing deal) but you have to know your market. 1. As you said, properties are going to move slowly. It's not the place to "count on" a quick flip. 2. There are a lot of low-income and section 8 renters. 3. The population is not really growing nor really declining. 4. Don't count on appreciation, make sure it cash flows.

Besides the beautiful environment and much better ratios for cash flow than in Eastern MA (if you know how to manage your property correctly), the Berkshires is also somewhat insulated from the big peaks and dips in market cycles. An experienced realtor in Adams, MA told me that they barely felt the 2008 crash. Property prices just stayed flat.

@Steve DellaPelle see my comment above. I think the Berkshires could be a great place to invest - depending on your goals and mindset. You have to do your research and get local connections. I'm not some kind of war-weathered veteran expert, I have a vacancy now that's really annoying me and I'm trying to figure out how to get a good tenant in there, but I'm very positive about the area and its potential. My partner and I are God willing expanding up to 13 doors in the next few months in North Adams.

@Moshe H. I pulled SFRs (no MFRs, condos, commercial residential, etc) directly from the MLS.

It's not an area where I practice, so perhaps there's something I'm missing.  I pretty much stick to Worcester and east - excluding the Cape and Islands.  And within that area, I really focus on Plymouth and Norfolk counties.

I just searched again and included MFRs and Condos. MLS PIN (MLS Property Information Network) states 83 total properties for sale in Berkshire County.

So I called an agency at random to ask whether they have their own MLS and it turns out that there is a Berkshire MLS.  

That explains the discrepancy and I'll consider myself educated!

@Charlie MacPherson interesting! Is MLS PIN a nationwide MLS? Do most areas have their own MLS or use a broader regional one? I don't know much about the MLS system.

@Moshe H. There are all sorts of MLS systems. MLS PIN is the dominant one in MA.

I know the Cape and Islands MLS handles that area. "Those people" don't like "us people" crossing the bridges into "their" territory!

It's bizarre - I had a listing near the tip of Cape Cod in Eastham. Their MLS charged me $45.00 to list it on their MLS - but we mainlanders don't charge their members anything to list on MLS PIN. I wasn't even allowed access to their MLS so I could see the listing I paid for!

MLS PIN shows some listings in VT, NH and FL and has a link giving access to RI.

I have heard of agents in other parts of the country having to belong to multiple MLSs.  

By the way @Steve DellaPelle if you want to chat with a real estate agent who knows a lot about investing in the Berkshires and who is in the game himself, get it touch with @Cory E. , he is great.

We have had a place just north of the Berkshires in West Dover VT for 14 years. Like anywhere else you have to be careful about who you rent to. The prices are lower so it is easier to break into the market. Our 2 family near Mount Snow is for sale if you have any interest in that area.

@Charlie MacPherson The key to crossing the bridge is buying investments and living over the bridge, then buying your primary on cape...now I have unrestricted access to both ;)

Charlie I'd be interested in exploring some work together in the future

@Steve DellaPelle had you been thinking about buying a SFR and renting it year-round, or more of a vacation rental property (forgive my terminology, but AirBnB etc)?

@Steve DellaPelle This thread is over a year old but I wanted to check in to see if you ended up investing in the Berkshires? 

@Shaquanna Brown I have not pulled the trigger on my next investment yet but I recently browsed the Berkshire area for deals and it still catches my interest every time! The prices are so good but the area seems to be in decline (population wise) and my main concern is the number of quality residents. Were you interested in this area as well?

@Steve DellaPelle I'm interested in doing my first deal this year. Because of the prices in Boston and even South Shore/South of Boston (closer to me), the #s just don't add up for a successful deal. I am heavily exploring long distance... but I thought perhaps I should look closer to home before I go to far :)  I suppose my husband and I will need to do a little digging to see if anything makes sense there. 

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