East Madison–Back to Where We Started

About a dozen years ago a recent graduate of a New York or Boston university showed up at my office asking for a tour of Madison. He had the accent of a son of New England, and the curiosity of a New Yorker. The young guy, let’s call him Jed, wanted to figure out where he should own if he accepted the job he had interviewed for. He told me the interviewer told him to look on the near west side of the city. When asked why, the young man was told “Because nobody lives on the east side”. By the time we finished our tour and Jed had sized up or city he concluded the East Side was where he would buy. The reason was simple as he saw it. The west side prices were over inflated, east side was affordable, the most potential for improvement was east, and, he told me, “This economy is going to burst. I want to be safe.” I thought Jed was wrong on all counts. He wasn’t.

Just like the earliest days of Madison’s history (1836-1850) people are making their homes on the east side. One of the first streets to have homes built was Gorham Street. The modern regeneration of east side Madison is well underway. Quality businesses are locating within the neighborhoods, owner associations are vibrant, and the East Washington corridor is finally looking cared about.

I took a look at the sales in the near east neighborhoods for 2014; the picture is impressive. One hundred and seventy seven (177)homes at an average price of $227,888 sold. The median price is $215,000. The median priced home sits right where the first homes were built: on Gorham Street. Built 130 years ago the two story, 1600 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house went on the market in April for $214,900 and sold in 2 days for $215,000. The average time on the market for these homes was 43 days.

Who are these people making like the settlers buying up east side real estate? They’re the “Jeds”. They’re educated, smart, employed, and they are conservative with their home ownership dollars. They want to own in Madison and still have money for other things.

I’m enthused to see people wanting to be part of the movement east. They’re not just buying east because west is so expensive, they’re buying east to be east.