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Thread: Article 2 @ Town Meeting

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    You shouldn't presume to put words in my mouth. I don't agree with your "humiliate" characterization (I'd use the term "embarrass"), and I view the "flaw" as more substantive than procedural.
    I didn't put words in your mouth; that was my characterization of what happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    However, I think that you have a point in your "burning down your own house" comment. It's hard to dispute that Wayland housing prices have lost ground in recent years relative to Weston, Wellesley and Lincoln. With nods to those who attribute this to the tax rate and to those who attribute this to the decrepitude of the high school, I suspect that at least as great a factor is Wayland's reputation for litigiousness and contentiousness. Some self-restraint by those who are quick to engage in the fray would go a long way to remedy this (and I include myself and the PCC's would-be honorees in this category).
    There's nothing wrong with engagement, or with disagreement for that matter. What must stop is the demonization and "ends justify the means" rationalization of disrepectful and onerous behavior.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    It's hard to dispute that Wayland housing prices have lost ground in recent years relative to Weston, Wellesley and Lincoln. With nods to those who attribute this to the tax rate and to those who attribute this to the decrepitude of the high school, I suspect that at least as great a factor is Wayland's reputation for litigiousness and contentiousness. Some self-restraint by those who are quick to engage in the fray would go a long way to remedy this (and I include myself and the PCC's would-be honorees in this category).
    Actually, it's not all that hard to dispute the "Wayland losing ground to peers" real estate issue. Two threads on the Discussion Forum address this question, the first leading to the second. In a nutshell, the "loss contention" is based on Warren Group data comparing 2008 median selling prices to 2007 median selling prices. Since these are different batches of houses, and not the town as a whole, there *may* be an apples to oranges problem. As has been pointed out, however, even a perception of value loss in Wayland presents a problem.

    To the extent that there is a relative Wayland decline compared with peers (and not just an absolute decline attributable to the economy as a whole), I suspect some combination of the following to be likely drivers (in no particular order).

    1. Tax bill that appears to be too high
    2. Tax rate that appears to be too high
    3. More Wayland residents forced by economic circumstances to sell in a down market
    4. Perception of declining education quality
    5. Lack of an adequate high school

    Regarding (1), our tax bill is high, but not relative to our peers. (2) should be less of a factor than (1), but "should" isn't the same as "is." As for (3), I'm purely speculating, as I've got no evidence one way or the other. I don't see (4) as being in play, as Wayland continues to do well on educational measures including MCAS scores (Boston Globe, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and the High School education (Boston Magazine). (5), the condition of the High School facility (as opposed to education) can't help. Missing from my list is Steve's "litigiousness/contentiousness," as I don't see these being particularly visible to those searching for a home. For those of us on the "inside" (and this is only a fraction of *current* Waylanders), we see this environment perhaps too well, forgetting that it probably doesn't show through on the surface to potential home buyers.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Missing from my list is Steve's "litigiousness/contentiousness," as I don't see these being particularly visible to those searching for a home. For those of us on the "inside" (and this is only a fraction of *current* Waylanders), we see this environment perhaps too well, forgetting that it probably doesn't show through on the surface to potential home buyers.
    Checking out the local newspaper is common practice when considering the purchase of a home in a new community. Try googling

    wayland ma letters to editor

    and see what shows up.

  4. #34
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    I don't doubt that some people find those letters, but they (the letters, and the somewhat less visible comments) tend to be fairly concentrated around election time. It would be interesting to compare our letters/comments to those in peer towns--are we really "out there" in terms of our contentiousness?

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Perlman View Post
    It's hard to dispute that Wayland housing prices have lost ground in recent years relative to Weston, Wellesley and Lincoln. With nods to those who attribute this to the tax rate and to those who attribute this to the decrepitude of the high school, I suspect that at least as great a factor is Wayland's reputation for litigiousness and contentiousness. Some self-restraint by those who are quick to engage in the fray would go a long way to remedy this (and I include myself and the PCC's would-be honorees in this category).
    Median Price summaries from year to year do not reflect real changes in real estate values. They are a statistics that do not account for real differences in the inventory. For example, the median price for Wayland for the first quarter of 2009 when compared to the first quarter of 2008 is up 16% (April 24, 2009 from MLS Property Information Network, Inc.) Do I believe real estate values have risen 16%? Absolutely not, nor do I believe as I have demonstrated in this forum and letters to the editor that values declined 20% or anywhere near 20%. No Are the median price summaries in peer towns any more accurate as a measure of value than they are for Wayland? No. The only way to focus on real value changes would be on a paired analysis basis, apples to apples, or the repeat sales which is the approach in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. A somewhat more accurate approach would be to calculate prices on dollars per square foot of above grade living area. I say somewhat because smaller properties tend to sell for a somewhat higher dollar per square foot range. There is no perfect way to account statistically for changes in real estate values. When using MLS sales confirmed with public record and public record square footage the median dollars per square foot change from 2007 to 2008 showed a decline of only 1.6%. The one repeat sale in Wayland declined 3.7%, not a big enough sample to draw conclusions from, but one piece of evidence that points to a much lower number.

    How do I know this? I am a Real Estate Broker with over twenty years of experience in the greater Boston area so I wrestle with the question of value in the home search and negotiation process continuously.

    Home buyers with families and others focused on the quality or their investment first and foremost are concerned about schools. Location is critical, price range, commuting times and distances, and availability and proximity to public transportation. narrow the field. Beyond the practical absolutes, schools are known to be the key driver of real estate values.
    Please note when peer towns of Needham, Wellesley, Weston, Lincoln, and Lexington are referenced we do not compete on a level playing field. We are further out from Boston & Cambridge and do not have ready access to public transportation like rail lines or bus lines like Lexington. Needham, Wellesley, and Lexington also have very desirable town centers with numerous offerings. I believe our new town center project when complete will bring a real boost to Wayland's desirability and real estate values. Our housing stock is also different with more mid century construction that is somewhat out of favor with consumers who tend to prefer traditional style colonials and victorians with higher ceilings and more architectural detail that now also characterize new construction as builders respond to consumer interests. Our peer town is Sudbury from a real estate standpoint.

    Local politics are known to be scrappy and parochial. I don't think people expect any different given what happens in our national debates like the Lee Atwater style of slash and burn tactics, the divisive 51% strategies of Carl Rove, etc. that have unfortunately dominated our national politics and characterized our public debates for so long.

    Just my two cents, obviously I am bothered by the misunderstanding of the real estate statistics and the repeated perpetuation of that misunderstanding that can lead to a self-fulfilling process that carries over into public opinion which will undermine the values.

    For example, the town moderator allowed the misleading presentation of that data in opposition to a motion and than specifically cut off the presentation to correct that impression at the recent town meeting.

    Respectfully,
    Barry
    Last edited by Barry Nystedt; 04-24-2009 at 11:44 AM.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't doubt that some people find those letters, but they (the letters, and the somewhat less visible comments) tend to be fairly concentrated around election time. It would be interesting to compare our letters/comments to those in peer towns--are we really "out there" in terms of our contentiousness?
    Here's one perspective:

    "The town of Wayland is the most dysfunctional community in Massachusetts," Boston developer Dean Stratouly, the original proponent of the project, said yesterday. "The government's hierarchy is in disarray. It's dominated by a minority of special interest groups that want to live in the '50s. It's incapable of any kind of change."

    http://www.boston.com/business/artic...to_be_dropped/

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