Island real estate brokers are speaking in optimistic terms about home sales this summer. While July and August are typically not the strongest sales months of the year, all seven realtors surveyed report a definite improvement in recent activity over the last few summers. Several commented, however, on the fact that the number of new properties being listed is still greater than the volume of sales. According to both Lisa Stewart of Lighthouse Properties and Art Smadbeck of Priestly, Smadbeck & Mone, the Island still needs to see sales outstrip new inventory before there is any real shift in market conditions or upward pressure on prices.
We asked each broker to characterize the summer’s sales activity. Next week, they’ll offer advice to sellers on how to best present their properties in a challenging market.
How would you describe this summer in terms of activity, listings, and sales in your office? Are you seeing any new local trends?
Lisa Stewart, Lighthouse Properties, Oak Bluffs
While spring was fairly busy with showings, activity in July flattened out. There has been a marked increase in activity since the beginning of August, consistent with previous years. Certain locations are seeing more activity than others, but buyers are very reticent about making any quick decisions. More serious lookers are usually here in August and September so we’ll have a better gauge of overall market conditions after that.
Art Smadbeck, Priestley Smadbeck & Mone, Edgartown
Activity has picked up on the sales side. However, it is not back to pre-crisis levels. In addition, the numbers of new listings still seems to be greater than the number of current sales. We will need to see sales begin to outstrip new inventory in order to see any upward pressure on prices.
Neal Stiller, Cronig’s Real Estate, Vineyard Haven
Our office is having a good summer with activity up over the last couple of summers. The first priority of vacationers here in the peak of the summer is to have fun, and the year-round residents are too busy to look for properties in the summer. For us, spring and fall have historically been better for sales than summer. Fantastic interest rates continue to help the market.
Sean Federowicz, Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate, Vineyard Haven
We had an active early spring followed by an early lull at the end of the school year through much of July. People are in vacation mode that time, prior to the next surge in August and September when house-hunters look to consummate transactions before the end of the year. Sales are up 85-plus percent over last year with buyers looking for deals, especially at the lower end of the market.
Doug Reece, RE/MAX on island, Vineyard Haven
The summer started as most summers start, with slow activity. July was uncharacteristically slow, but August (as usual) is hopping with house viewings. Property sales have been steady this summer with the anticipation that sales will be strong in the fourth quarter. Historically low interest rates, bank foreclosures, and motivated sellers should help fuel the market.
Abby Rabinovitz, Tea Lane Associates, Chilmark & West Tisbury
We had a very strong first half of the year with lots of sales activity from January through June, yielding a significantly higher number of sales and dollar volume than in the first six months of 2009. I’m hoping that the strong sales activity continues in the second half of this year. The bulk of the buying season is ahead of us through the third quarter of the year. That’s typically our busy season and I’m optimistic, based on the current activity. Both buyers and sellers are being more realistic. We’re not seeing as much of the stalemate that we saw in 2009, when buyers were expecting prices to go down further and sellers were holding firm.
Sheila Morse, Island Real Estate, Vineyard Haven
Our office is quite busy with lots of buyers looking. We’ve been able to place many first-time homebuyers as well as those looking for an inexpensive second home/investment property. We’ve found that homes listed for sale at less than $500,000 have had the most activity and closings within the last two quarters. We are still very active on the listing side as well.