A real estate professional’s view of how the market is doing

What a difference a year can make. Now that we have a full nine months of the year behind us, it is reasonable to report that 2010 has proven to be a year of resilience and near perfection to date, at least based upon a review of seasonal business performance and the idyllic summer weather we enjoyed.

Sure there was tropical Storm Earl’s near miss in late summer, and the economy continues to struggle along, but the visitors arrived and fully enjoyed all things Vineyard. Perhaps you were one of them?

Now that the “high season” is behind us, it is timely to make a few observations that may be helpful concerning the behavior of real estate in our micro-market. Interest in Martha’s Vineyard real estate has been nothing short of frenetic throughout the late winter and into the season. The number of transactions executed thus far year to date while impressive, is not surprising given how challenging, tumultuous and lean 2009 was. And while the world is by no means any more predictable than it was last year at this time, Vineyard real estate, as cited recently by the Cape Cod Times, is a market region that has significantly outperformed many others in the state, if not the Northeast, despite this new economic “paradigm.” And, by a considerable margin.

Some highlights. The number of properties for sale has remained relatively constant for nearly three years now, 750 to 850 total units. In fact, these numbers are still well above what we would describe as normal carrying levels, by almost double. But, of interest are the 254 home sales completed thus far in 2010 Island-wide.

Incredibly, this unit sales volume is 57.8 percent greater than recorded sales during the same period in 2009. Not surprisingly, this increase in total unit home sales has increased the total dollar value of sales for homes Island-wide by 64 percent. The median price of a home is now $582,000, up 3.83 percent, and the average home price of $1,056,000 is also up 3.76 percent over 2009 figures of $560,000 and $1,017,000 respectively.

Home sales on-Island have transacted at approximately 92.7 percent of the asking price year to date, and have captured 105.9 percent of the town assessed value, also YTD.

Distressed sales on-Island have only modestly increased since the close of last year. But this opinion is only subjectively offered from experience, as such transactions remain difficult to quantitatively monitor and assess.

During 2010, the dynamic between seller and buyer has evolved considerably to acknowledge the macro condition of the world today and its effect on Martha’s Vineyard real estate. That said, as a second home/vacation market, competition for buyers remains great, and the motivation of any given seller to divest is highly subjective, reflecting their individual circumstances. Nonetheless, given the bounty of choice, the low interest rate climate, and implied value now found on-Island, many buyers have emerged this year to commit to acquiring Martha’s Vineyard real estate for both the financial and emotional return it continues to provide.

Sean Federowicz is a principal at Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate in Vineyard Haven. Landmarks is a full service brokerage, offering exclusive listings of properties for sale, as well as all available Island-wide listings, and certified buyer representation. Landmarks also brokers vacation and year-round rentals, and Mr. Federowicz also offers periodic analysis of trends in the Island real estate business, to customers and others who may become customers. Reach Mr. Federowicz at 508-693-6866 or mvlandmarks.com.