Blog :: 2020

Martha's Vineyard Real Estate: 2020 Q3 Market Commentary

Greetings from Martha’s Vineyard. We hope that each of you are remaining healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. Summer came to the Island and brought some wonderful weather to help us enjoy the Island’s outdoor lifestyle. It was a much appreciated respite from the indoor quarantine of early spring due to Covid.

The restrictions and stressors that were imposed by this unwelcome virus certainly have made an impact on Martha’s Vineyard.  Patrons ultimately did arrive on-Island after the travel bans were lifted, and they quickly learned to cope with summer’s new paradigm. Perhaps the greatest benefits received from this summer was a return to simplicity, the appreciation of life with family and friends, more wholesome living, and the enjoyment of nature’s pleasures from such a beautiful place.

The most surprising result from the past three months was the frenetic and surging demand from those who reside in more dense or urban areas to find almost any form of haven from Covid on Martha’s Vineyard. This was a new acquisition variable that no one in the brokerage community fully recognized earlier this year and has become a significant driver of purchase activity and the vast price escalation resulting from a low housing supply.

Beginning the New Year, the local inventory was already working from a deficit. The annual consumption of residential property has far outpaced the replenishment rate during the past six years. And being an Island, we are finite in the amount of land that can be developed as it is. Certainly, normal life events such as death, divorce, and family economics can add to inventory. But “flipping”, or moving up, are not typical drivers that create more stock within a discretionary market, especially as most purchases made on Martha's Vineyard are from a ‘lifestyle and legacy” perspective.

Clearly, there are continuing geo-political and macro-economic issues in the world today, but health and safety have become paramount considerations for families. We have frequently heard the term ‘re-designing’ one’s life during these tumultuous times. “If my kids and I can work and school remotely via Zoom, our home can be anywhere we desire!” And with increased purchasing power that is made available through low lending rates, many of the prospective buyers we have represented this summer are making the decision to invest in and migrate to Martha’s Vineyard for a healthier and arguably safer environment for their families.

While inventory on-Island exists across the full market spectrum, no segment has been ignored during this wave of recent purchase activity. Not surprisingly, the most economical market segments have experienced the greatest levels of consumption too. But for buyers, as limited supply persists, it will only become more problematic as heightened competition coupled with low inventory will preserve elevated prices for the foreseeable future. And this, unfortunately, is not a condition that is likely to resolve itself in the short-term. 

For sellers, the momentum has swung in their favor given the low inventory levels that exist. However, that does not enable them to command outrageous prices at resale. Mortgage lenders learned their lessons well from the last recession and have become highly vigilant with respect to appraisal and credit risks. The exuberant excesses we recall from the last housing bubble are not present today, nor are the same contributing factors. However, location, amenities, and condition will continue to be significant pricing variables toward the consideration and urgency to convey real estate on-Island.

Please consider the following;

  • Year-to-date 362 residential properties have sold on Martha’s Vineyard, which is up 29% from the 255 sold for the same period in 2019.
  • Q3 alone conveyed 183 residential properties, which is up an astounding 79% from the 102 sold in 2019 for the same period.
  • Year-over-year, median home sale prices have surged 32.3% from $785,000 to $1,035,000 with average home sales prices also increasing 10.2% from $1,427,000 to $1,573,000 for the period.
  • On average, year to date home sales on-Island have transacted at approximately 95% of their asking price while realizing 132% of their tax assessment. This correlation suggests that property sale prices are exceeding the respective tax assessed values more broadly throughout our micro-market, but remain subject to the attributes of condition, location, utility, uniqueness, and now greater scarcity.

Third Quarter sales statistics courtesy of LINK

Q3 2020 Martha's Vineyard # of Sales by TownQ3 2020 Martha's Vineyard Total Dollar Volume by Town

Q3 2020 MV Real Estate Town Table

Q1 2020 MV Real Estate Property Type Bar Graph

Q1 2020 MV Real Estate Property Type Table

Please visit to view a comprehensive list of all available Island listings. And as always, do not hesitate to contact us with your questions and curiosities concerning those properties of interest and Martha’s Vineyard real estate topics in general.

Martha's Vineyard Real Estate: 2020 Q1 Market Commentary

First and foremost, we at Landmarks hope that this commentary finds you and yours all healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. None of us are familiar with being idle at this time of year, and frankly find it an unsettling departure from the rhythms of the season. The coronavirus and subsequent social distancing policies have certainly interrupted our customary activities and relationships related to real estate on-Island. However, when we are able to return to a sense of normalcy, we will be ready to assist and serve our customers and clients.

Since most of us are now more available to research various topics of interest with far less haste, please allow us to share the real estate activity that was recorded on-Island for the first quarter.

The mild winter weather experienced across much of the south coast of New England, coupled with the low interest rate environment, contributed to some quick and successful transactions early in the year. Before the COVID-19 interruption, we practitioners had been speculating as to ‘how much and from which segments’ we would realize new additions of inventory to help replenish the high rate of consumption we experienced during the past five seasons.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains unanswered at this time. However, since our agency has been in consultation with several prospective sellers who intend to list their property, but are electing to remain inactive until summer, I can reasonably assume that other local agencies are having similar conversations. Nonetheless, inventory is likely to remain tight regardless of what may materialize this season.

Much as the closing months of 2019 have demonstrated, the First Quarter median and average sales prices on-Island became directly correlated with the characteristics found within the current inventory. By far, the most active segment of the market was found below $1.5M. However, as mentioned, available inventory within this segment will remain tight. And while the higher price, luxury segments still offer many options, pricing strategy within those segments remains critical, as that audience of buyers is comparatively smaller.

Once the local market resumes “normal” transactional activities, we expect the fundamental laws of supply and demand to return, but our finite market will operate in a clearly changed social environment.

For your consideration, here are the meaningful, and perhaps surprising statistics from activity realized during the First Quarter of 2020.

Last year at this time, there were 393 total listed units. As of this writing, there are 289. As aforementioned, there likely will be an influx of listings forthcoming to participate in the delayed “spring market”. But this season will be different by most every measure.

A total of 102 residential properties were sold among the Island towns within the First Quarter this year, which is interestingly 85% more than were sold a year ago. The majority of these sales conveyed in January and February before the Covid-19 lock down was instituted in early March. Home sales were found across the Island as follows: Edgartown-36, Oak Bluffs-26, Vineyard Haven-22, West Tisbury-8, Chilmark-7, and Aquinnah-3.

Quarterly Statistics Courtesy of LINK

Q1 2020 MV Real Estate Town Table

Q1 2020 Martha's Vineyard Sales by TownQ1 2020 Martha's Vineyard Dollar Volume by Town

Median sales prices on-Island for Q1 decreased 9% from $950,000 to $869,000 compared to the same period in 2019, with average prices also decreasing 32% from $2.099M to$1.435M during the same period.

Q1 2020 Median & Average Sales Prices on Martha's Vineyard

On average, residential property sales thus far have captured 94.2% of their final asking prices and garnered 127% of their respective tax assessments. However, the strength of this correlation remains highly subject to factors such as condition, amenity, scarcity and uniqueness of the subject properties sold.

As an independently owned franchise that is associated with a national brand, we are often introduced to proprietary market analysis and industry trends. And there is a developing financial concern stemming from the virus’ impact that will affect the national real estate market. So, for those who have vested themselves in the search for Vineyard real estate, are well oriented and prepared, 2020 may afford a unique opportunity to acquire an Island property during this global paradigm shift.

If a purchase of an Island property is not in your future right now, there is still time to book your 2020 summer vacation rental. Our inventory features homes that accommodate most every need and represent every corner of the Island. But availability for best properties and weeks is waning. Please contact us to assist you in creating your dream vacation!

Please visit to view a comprehensive list of all available Island listings for sale or vacation rental. And as always, please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions and curiosities concerning properties of interest or Martha’s Vineyard real estate in general.

Summer is coming to the Vineyard, might YOU be coming to your Island home???

Martha's Vineyard Real Estate: 2019 Year-end Market Commentary

Happy belated New Year to one and all! As has become customary, we offer our annual installment of “The Year in Review” concerning Martha’s Vineyard Real Estate activities.

After another rather pedestrian “spring market” and seasonal weather pattern to start last season, Mother Nature did provide us with another terrific summer for all concerned. Let’s hope for another mild weather pattern to develop in early 2020 to help carry the consistent real estate activities of fall into the New Year!

The significant cadre of prospective buyers who have been biding their time since the market crash ten years ago and its subsequent recovery have become more aware of the nuances associated with Island ownership. Many parties re-entered the market during the past five seasons to make their purchases, which has effectively contributed to an inventory supply issue on-island that reflects what is being experienced in many primary markets. And despite attractive lending rates, we anticipate continued demand to outpace available supply, especially within the sub-million dollar market segments. Given the solid Q4 sales volume, and heightened competition among prospective buyers for well-priced, well-conditioned properties, we envision the New Year getting off to an early and robust start before the customary “spring market” arrives with great attention being given to the newly listed candidates for purchase.

Here are some facts, observations, and opinions that may help you formulate your own point of view regarding the state of Martha’s Vineyard real estate.

Market Statistics Courtesy of LINK

2019 Year End Martha's Vineyard Real Estate Market

MV Real Estate Market in 2019 by Sales & Dollar Volume

  • Nationwide sentiment toward real estate has substantively improved, especially among second home seekers in vacation/destination markets like Martha’s Vineyard, as investments made within these segments are for both lifestyle and financial purposes.
  • Freddie & Fannie Loan limits have again been increased by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), specifically for the Cape Cod & Islands region. The ‘mezzanine’ level found above the conventional limit of $510,400 now resides at an attractive $765,600 before “Jumbo” mortgages are required for lending need. This upward adjustment may positively affect eligible buyer’s purchasing power and thus enable considering a wider range of properties to purchase on-Island.
  • The National Association of Realtors’ chief economist Lawrence Yun says that a recession in the housing market is unlikely in the year ahead. Although, it will likely be a year of slower growth. Tight inventory conditions will remain an ongoing concern that will keep prices relatively elevated but stable, and that mortgage rates should help sustain demand.
  • The 4th Quarter again realized significant volume of residential sales on-Island (144) exceeding Q1 (62), Q2 (109) and Q3 (110). Interestingly, during the past several years, our “Fall Market” has become stronger than the customary “Spring Market”. The total number of properties for sale has decreased significantly from the seasonal high of approximately 524 in late August to 240 at this writing. Yet with overall supply of inventory falling, prices can more readily increase. Therefore, this could be a cue for potential sellers to enter the market with new listings come spring, if not sooner. Please contact us to discuss the salability of your Island property.
  • In 2019, residential sales on-Island were realized from all price segments totaling 387 units, which was 9% fewer than the 424 transacted in 2018. Median sales prices increased by 9%, from $802,500 to $875,000, while average sales prices jumped 32%, from $1,312,996 to $1,732,442, year over year.
  • Sales prices on-Island captured 95.5% of their asking price and garnered nearly 124% of their respective tax assessment.
  • For the year, Island towns conveyed the following number of residential properties; Edgartown-118, Oak Bluffs-106, Vineyard Haven-81, West Tisbury-42, Chilmark-30, and Aquinnah-10.
  • The Island is a finite commodity having both geographic and economic barriers of entry that promote various price supports not typically found in many primary real estate markets. Scarcity, location, condition, and amenities continue to be key drivers toward establishing value and pricing.
  • As desirable inventory is pared down, especially within the sub-million dollar segments, prices have continued to adjust upward as a function of supply and demand. It is not surprising that within the tight market climate, the better priced, better conditioned properties are going under contract more quickly than their respective competition.
  • Our successful 2019 clients, buyers and sellers alike, have these best practices in common: Identify your wants and needs, learn the market, develop reasonable expectations, perform your due diligence, and “be prepared to act”. This micro-market has returned to a more competitive and urgent dynamic.

We expect the increase in search activity to continue, especially from those who have long watched from the sidelines and now fear “missing out” in capturing their dream of Island ownership, or risk less choice and endure higher finance costs to do so. But we also anticipate the potential in finding fewer properties becoming available as a result of the consistent level of acquisition during these past several years. The next several months will be telling with respect to determining the levels of inventory the spring market may hold.

Should the economy remain strong and stable, the absorption rate for Island property will also continue to increase, resulting in upward trending sales prices with supply further contracting. Lastly, as mortgage interest rates expect to remain moderate in 2020, this may provide some incentive for prospective buyers to act sooner rather than later as lower rates generally help to increase their purchasing power.

Certainly, anything can happen during the year, of course, and the Island’s resilience as a discretionary market of desire will be tested. However, for those individuals who perform their due diligence, work with an experienced Realtor, and are ready to take action, it still remains an attractive time to be a Buyer of Martha’s Vineyard real estate!

If a purchase of an Island property is not in your future right now, there is still time to book your 2020 summer vacation rental. Our inventory continues to grow featuring homes that accommodate most every need and represent every corner of the Island. But availability for best properties and weeks are waning. Please contact us to assist you in creating your dream vacation!

Please also visit to view a comprehensive list of all available Island listings for sale or vacation rental. And as always, do not hesitate to contact us with your questions concerning properties of interest, and Martha’s Vineyard real estate concerns in general. 

Summer is coming to the Vineyard, might YOU be coming to your Island home???