The Smart Buys in a Scary Market

We know: Between the topsy-turvy prices and the subprime mess, it's a real estate nightmare out there. But after grilling dozens of brokers and hundreds of industry experts, we're pleased to report there are some bright spots for jittery house-hunters (and owners). A road map to 29 neighborhoods and towns that are holding their value, or are poised to be big winners when the next boom rolls around.

Havens for the Recently Unhitched

Two towns that offer the good life for those who’ve given up their better half. 

When a marriage busts up on the South Shore, real estate agents say, odds are good that one of the parties will relocate to an increasingly popular destination for the newly unattached: Weymouth. In the densely settled city by the sea, where the median price of a condominium is $201,450, consenting adults can quietly share a cuppa at Dunki

n’ (10 franchises to choose from) or a brew at a neighborhood tavern (countless, and all tuned to the game). The argument can be made, in fact, that Weymouth’s future looks more promising than most newlyweds’. Already well supplied with good-quality, attractively priced townhouses—some of which, on the north side, come with ocean views—it will add 500 units of housing when the first phase of the redevelopment of the 1,400-acre South Weymouth Naval Air Station opens in 2009.

Further inland, and slightly down the pricing scale (with the average condo costing $179,500), there’s Marlborough, where the Newcomers and Neighbors Club hosts regular adults-only mixers. At Speakers Night Club, another singles stronghold, there’s karaoke night on Friday, live music on Saturday, and Brazilian dance on Sunday. Not that such contrivances are necessary: Insiders say transplants looking for romance should head to the South Bolton Street Starbucks. “I can’t tell you how many relationships got started in that Starbucks,” says single Marlborough resident Susan Alatalo, a publicist at the town’s Arts Alliance—whose popular free Saturday morning performances in the town center have themselves become yet another outlet for the lively postmarital scene.