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Housing Crisis for Nantucket's Backbone  - April 3, 2015

Nantucket real estate is better known for attention grabbing multi-million headline sales, but the market for homes that house the individuals who help keep Nantucket running as we know it is perhaps the most competitive and hard to find segment. Nantucket continues to grow, people are drawn by the island for the many opportunities that the island presents and once here the want to stay for the love living and being here.

There are only 5 homes for sale under $500,000 on Nantucket all of which are condominiums. There are 17 homes for sale in the $500,000 - $750,000 range. Within this range the least expensive fee simple home that is listed is listed for $680,000, and consists of a two bay garage with a one bedroom apartment above. In the $750,000 - $1,000,000 range, the pickings grow to 20 homes of which the majority are fee simple.

While the real estate sales inventory may seem a bit grim it gets worse when you look at rentals. There simply is no steady availability of year round rental homes on Nantucket. If you scan the online classifieds for year round rentals, the vast majority of posts are from working individuals seeking rentals.  In a quick search, I found 2 rooms available for rent ($400 per week), a two bedroom apartment available for the summer season ($14,500) and one year round option consisting of a 1 bedroom apartment in Madaket for $2,000 per month.

The good news is that help is available. Housing Nantucket is providing relief to year round residents by facilitating the creation of Covenant Homes that are deed restricted to year round Nantucket residents that satisfy income requirements. These homes are typically secondary dwellings on larger parcels of land that can be converted to condominiums with restrictive covenants then sold to qualified buyers.  And Sachem’s Path, developed by Housing Assistance of Cape Cod, has opened the lottery for a 40 home development. The inventory will consist of both low-income housing and affordable housing. The qualified candidates for the affordable housing have to be year round residents with incomes within 80%-150% of the area’s median income. And finally, there are tentative commitments from Richmond Great Point Development to develop over forty homes in the $600,000 - $800,000 range off Old South Road if the town voters will provide zoning relief at Nantucket’s April 6th Annual Town Meeting.

Nantucket will continue to grow (it was the fastest growing county in Massachusetts in 2014) and the demand for year round housing will have to be addressed. The actively listed land inventory of 49 vacant lots includes 5 lots under $500,000 which means that solutions will have to come from collaborations between the Town and future development partners.

While we at Great Point Properties continue to work away during the off season, it feels like the temper of the season past is flash frozen awaiting the arrival of another summer season. If the world’s socio-economics remain on an even keel, chances are pretty good that the island real estate market will have a healthy continuation next year and just maybe it will be that much clearer a year from now whether we will hit the billion dollar mark in 2015.