Another winter ritual on Island is having dinner at the Newes Friday evenings with Mike Benjamin. Formally called The Newes from America Pub at the Kelly House, this Edgartown pub and restaurant is popular for all the right reasons. The building is one of the oldest on the Vineyard, built in 1742, and its exposed bricks, warm hearth and colonial character beckon people right in.
The real estate market on Martha’s Vineyard remained essentially flat in 2013 compared with 2012. The number of properties sold in 2013 decreased just 1% to 502, total dollar volume decreased similarly 1.5% to $472mm, and average sales price fell just 0.6% to $941,000.
This is in contrast to the national housing market, which saw home prices post the highest annual gains in eight years (Yale economist Howard Shiller, December 2013). While the Vineyard, a vacation destination, did not see the heated activity of some first-home markets (New York City, San Francisco), it did maintain the gains it made in 2012. This is particularly significant, as 2012 was a recovery year where the Vineyard real estate market finally showed significant signs of health. Dollar volume in 2012 was at its highest level since 2007 and total transactions were at a level higher than we’d seen since 2005.
After the recession in 2008, and some false starts, it appears that the Vineyard real estate market is gradually recovering. It has been an uneven and unpredictable process. A modest recovery on the Vineyard in 2010 was followed by another downturn in 2011 and then the rally in 2012. The first half of 2013 was sluggish, well behind 2012 first half performance. The lower number of transactions in early 2013 was not surprising, given the intense activity and record number of transactions at the end of 2012 (some propelled by uncertainty about the capital gains tax). Still, the slow start of 2013 suggested more of a roller coaster ride to come. That the market caught up in the second half of 2013 to hold just barely at 2012 levels is positive news. It suggests a slow but steady recovery, now consolidated over two years.
One of the gratifying aspects of being in real estate on the Vineyard is watching new home owners plunge into island life. Often focused on making changes to their new property, they need recommendations for builders, landscapers, or painters, and have an excited energy in making the property “theirs”.