Real Estate Confidential: First-time home-buying on Martha’s Vineyard

This house in Oak Bluffs is a good buy at $675,000. It is listed by Teri Geary at Coldwell Banker.

By Fred Roven, MV Buyer Agents.

Weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales or other insider info on MV Real Estate.

When I discuss “a good time” to buy real estate, many Island home buyers on Martha’s Vineyard will roll their eyes and think I must be talking about another universe. Not so! I hate to pick a dollar number as a cutoff because there are always “tear downs” you can find at the low end of the market selling for just the land value. I see tears welling in the eyes of young couples as they look at water-stained walls, worn out carpet, broken windows, imagining bringing a baby into this “palace,” and sometimes that describes the better homes.  

Many buyers feel they may as well just build a new home. That is, until they discuss the situation with their banker and discover how difficult it can be for two paychecks on Martha’s Vineyard, even with a substantial down payment, to qualify for a construction loan.  Buying that home with the intent of renovating can be more difficult because banks will normally only write mortgages for homes they can resell easily.

It is important to be aware of the importance right now to act quickly if you find a property you love that feels like home. Homes under $750,000 have been selling very quickly this year — within the very short time on market of 88 days — almost half the time period of just a year earlier. Just a few months ago I looked at 10 homes that I felt were good values based on where they stand in relationship to the entire market. I considered those priced under assessed value, under the average cost per square foot and number of days on market (with some subjective decisions thrown in for good measure). Only one remains today and it was the highest price of the group. Here is a link if interested. I will write about the causes for price increases and the relationship of assessed values to sale prices in future columns.

I took another look today and, although the results were a bit scary (few if any below assessed value), there are some good opportunities. I selected homes that are in reasonable condition for their age and most with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. They are good values based on the criteria I discussed above, can be mortgaged without concern for condition, have room for increased value in years to come and, most important, a home you can love. You can see the list at Best Buys and I will add to that list as I see others come to market. I included one home that probably needs to be purchased by an experienced builder and is my favorite value on the market right now.