The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission unanimously approved increasing the threshold that exempts first-time homebuyers from having to pay the 2 percent transfer fee.
The M exemption threshold is set by the Land Bank Commission annually in December. During a meeting Monday, commissioners approved raising the exemption from $595,000 to $715,000.
It comes as the Martha’s Vineyard real estate market exploded in 2020 and 2021, with the median price now at $1.2 million.
“The process of doing that is to look at all of the M exemptions in the previous 24 months in order to see where the market is with respect to M exemptions,” Land Bank executive director James Lengyel said. “Then we compute the median and the mean [of all M exemption transfers], and you [commissioners] decide what you think is a fitting threshold for 2022.”
In 2021, the median was $640,000, and the mean was $688,000. If only developed dwellings’ M exemption transfers were calculated, the median is $660,000 and the mean is $718,000.
Land Bank Commission chair Pamela Goff said she was not sure “how meaningful the M exemption is at a certain point, because houses are unaffordable.” Goff said she is concerned that the exemption would eventually only help wealthy people purchase property on Martha’s Vineyard. She does not think this point has been reached yet, but wanted “that to be kind of in the background of how useful an exemption will be.”
Edgartown commissioner Steven Ewing said that Goff’s concerns should be considered. “But I say we should think about maxing out the most of an exemption that we can,” he said. Ewing suggested an exemption in the realm of $750,000 would be fitting so that the Land Bank could cover as many year-round people as they could. “The houses now on Nantucket are around a couple million bucks, I think, and the houses here are getting up close to that. Or at least a million dollars.”
Oak Bluffs commissioner Kristen Reimann suggested $715,000 for the 2022 M exemption threshold. The commission unanimously approved the motion.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a notice of intent from the Woods Hole Group, hired by the Herring Creek Landowners Association, to do dune restoration at Edgartown Great Pond Beach. Lengyel said the planned restoration area is between Crackatuxet Cove and the cut of Edgartown Great Pond, where it is annually drained. The group sent the commission the notice of intent because two parcels of land owned by the Land Bank are in the planned restoration area.
The commission unanimously approved a $62,500 bid from John Keene Excavation to take down three surplus and rotting buildings at James Pond Reserve in West Tisbury.
The commission unanimously approved a $79,594.50 bid from Acme Excavation to take down two homes at Tashmoo Preserve in Tisbury.
The commission unanimously approved the Aquinnah Land Bank advisory board’s amended Squibnocket Pond Reservation management plan. The amendment was to allow dogs at the reservation on an “observational basis.” If guests and pets act in an unacceptable manner, the commission will revisit the stipulation. What exactly constitutes unacceptable behavior will be looked at more in the future, so the wording allows the commission flexibility in how they approach the issue. For now, the basic rules are that dogs will need to be leashed year-round, and they are prohibited on the beach from April through August, which is shorebird nesting season. Visitors will be notified at kiosks, and the stipulation will be enforced by rangers.