Newburyport, Property Values and Consequences

When I moved here in 1981, I bought my 1890 house for $74,000. I was upset because the people who sold it to me had bought if for $34,000 the year before. Eat your heart out. (Ok, interest rates were off the charts high, but still, that’s quite a price.)

I fixed my house up and seven years later ended up selling it, for what back then was a tidy profit.

Were my neighbors pleased? No.

My neighbors had roots. They planned to live here till “death do us part,” and then pass their homes onto their children.

What I did for my neighbors was make their property taxes go way up, and made it more difficult for them and their children to live in Newburyport, MA.

Flip forward to 1996. After some very difficult years, housing prices in Newburyport, MA start to go up again. No one in their wildest dreams thought any house in Newburyport, MA would ever sell for $400,000, much less more than $400,000.

And now, flip forward to 2005. Housing prices have skyrocketed. There are million dollar houses plus for sale and selling. And a new influx of people who can afford “unbelievably expensive homes” have moved into Newburyport, MA.

What happens, yup, property taxes go sky high, making it really difficult for folks with “roots” to live here. And making it almost impossible for their children and grandchildren to live here as well.

Are they happy? No. (Can you blame them?)

And then, to add insult to injury, it is perceived that the prosperous young families who have paid “astronomical” prices, want to further raise taxes, so that their children could have a better education.

As they say New York City, “forgetta about it.”

From the people who have the “roots” point of view, this is one explosive mixture.

And I would imagine that from the viewpoint of the young families who have moved here and paid those “astronomical” prices, they would like a school system worthy of what they paid for their homes.

My. Two very different and disparaging points of view.

How this would all play out? We will all see. But it certainly has the making of some Newburyport drama. Is this an understatement or what? George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog and the other frogs seem to think so too. (But then again, you have to remember, that some of those frogs just love drama.)

Actually, what the frogs croaked to me as we watched the Newburyport City Council on TV last night, after the spring election for an override for $1.58 million was voted in (can you picture it, me with four frogs lined up next to me) was, “Let the games begin.”

Mary Eaton