Sponsored: Real Estate Confidential: What About The Property Tax?


Real Estate Confidential is a weekly chit chat about new listings, sales, or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard real estate market, by Fred Roven, Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents. It appears each Friday in The Minute.

One of the many surprises that greet a real estate buyer on Martha’s Vineyard is the wide difference in tax rates from town to town.  This factor certainly needs to be taken into consideration when determining the price you are willing to pay for any given property. There are many reasons given for the differences and bottom line is each town has its own needs and determines a tax rate based on assessed values that combine to pay the funds needed to run each town,  

It becomes near impossible to compare assessed values town to town because they are a creation by each town to cover their budget.  I believe town meeting government has a lot to do with taxes on Martha’s Vineyard staying significantly lower than similar properties off-island.  Even with property values possibly ⅓ higher and more than similar off-island properties, total taxes remain low in comparison. You can and should though decide if the amount of taxes on a property are worth the convenience of being in a town with easy boat access, houses of worship, shopping, movies, restaurants, etc.

With its high priced waterfront properties Edgartown taxes sit on the low end of the spectrum,  and you certainly do get what you pay for. Pristine in town homes with brick sidewalks, elegant shops and restaurants, above average rental rates and many miles of pristine white sand beaches.  This classic New England colonial has open designed living spaces now in demand and proximity to Edgartown Village, Morning Glory Farm, the bicycle path and those beautiful beaches. This home in particular with its $5,000 plus income a week in rentals, is an example of how Edgartown with low tax base and high rentals has many homes which can provide good investment income.

Vineyard Haven, as the year-round community on Martha’s Vineyard, has the highest tax rate but supplies all services and amenities year-round.  This property provides a lot more for your tax dollar than some up-island properties with its 2800 SF of living space on over 4 acres of land. The land is assessed at half of what similar sized up-island lots would be so the taxes are similar to those lots and give you down-island convenience with easy shopping and bosat access.

Comparing property values or taxes in Aquinnah to any other town on the Vineyard is a feat in itself.  Aquinnah lives in a world all its own with mid range taxes but lower than average property values for the Vineyard giving you the opportunity for a lot more house and land with a reasonable property tax.  This cozy 2 BR is priced higher than others in this grouping and with one of the lowest property taxes and you get so much; the largest lot in the group at 4.7 acres, surrounded by stonewalls, and includes a 3 story antique chestnut barn currently used as an office and workshop.

Because of smaller lots on average, land values down island tend to be lower. This 3 BR, 3 bath home in Sengy offers a lot for the investment but also comes with a tax obligation comparable to up island homes 2 and 3 times the price.  The community offers fresh and saltwater ponds, a community dock, kayak storage and tennis courts. Those amenities are provided through a community assessment but even with the taxes and fees, you get a lot for your higher taxes and still end up paying much less for a home than you would pay in lower tax areas for a similar size and quality home.

West Tisbury falls in the middle of the tax spectrum and gives a buyer the opportunity of larger lots at taxes similar to much smaller lots down island.  This 4 BR bow roof contemporary is an architecturally interesting home on 1.5 acres in a tranquil and peaceful setting. Guests and extended family can enjoy the 2 bedrooms  and bath with a kitchenette in the lower level. West Tisbury amenities abound and in terms of taxes, provides residents with many opportunities from Lambert’s Cove Beach, the Ag Hall and the most charming town center on the island.

Not surprising one of the best tax values is this 4 BR newly renovated contemporary on 3 acres of land priced at $2,195,000.  The home features a modern kitchen with high end appliances, a screened porch with dining area, 2 private master suites, and of course Lucy Vincent, Squibnocket and Waskosims Rock nearby. Many prices are a reflection of the desirability of land and because of views, beaches and serenity, Chilmark with its low tax rate makes larger lots a reality for many mid-range buyers.

Click for Current and historical tax rates for each Island town.

For more Real Estate Confidentials, click here.