Editor’s Note – it’s about real estate


This edition of Vineyard Property Values – A Spotlight on the Real Estate Business, including as usual the annual report of assessed values in the six towns, focuses on the Martha’s Vineyard real estate industry, as it endures the third year of national economic misery. You’ll find a thorough review of year to date 2010 industry performance, compared with the performance for the like period in 2009.

You may remember that at this time last year, the headline was “Real estate sales outlook strengthens, brokers say; data agrees.”

“Despite the rollercoaster ride of sales and wildly fluctuating average prices that existing homes are attracting, Martha’s Vineyard realtors say they are confident that the very tough 2009 marketplace is turning around,” The Times news article began. The article reported that August 2009 sales were off just 14 percent from August 2008. They had been off 38 percent in January of last year, compared with January 2008. Hopefulness grew. What’s happened since?

We’ll also describe the difference in assessed values since the last Annual List appeared a year ago, plus tax rate changes, and the effects of the calculus of changing values and changing municipal budgets on the tax bills that Martha’s Vineyard property owners receive.

You’ll find an assessor’s-eye view of the assessing process. The goal here is to describe how assessors arrive at the values on which towns base their tax bills and to isolate the parts of their work in which discretion and market forces play important roles.

You’ll also find an informal history of a storied Vineyard real estate company, Harborside Realty, celebrating a significant anniversary this year.

Finally, online at mvtimes.com, you’ll find a searchable version of the list of assessed values. We offer this as a convenience for visitors to The Times website, as well as to readers of the print edition who’d like to pay a visit to mvtimes.com and harness the mysterious digital utility of the search function to probe the analog mysteries of Vineyard real estate values.