Last year at this time, we looked forward to 2011 hoping that the Nantucket real estate market would match the results of 2010. 2010 had seen a robust recovery from the dismal 2009 sales year. The upturn in activity was a notable acheivement after the disaster of 2009, which in hindsight, set the floor for our market. Noting that there were still looming economic issues facing us in 2011, we hoped for a similar performance in 2011. As 2011 drew to a close, the total sales numbers were down from 2010. The most notable change was an 18% decline in sales dollar volume. Nevertheless, taking a closer look at these numbers, 2011 proved to be a very decent year.
Sales by Price Point: 2010 vs. 2011
In 2011, total Nantucket Real Estate sales figures were down from 2010. After a significant increase in 2010, 2011 posted an 18.1% decline in sales dollar volume. There was a much smaller decline of only 2.7% in sales transaction volume. Dollar volume for 2011 was a bit over $524 million, versus $640 million for 2010. Total transactions in 2011 were 328, versus 337 for 2010.
Looking at the price point comparisons, year over year the notable difference was in the more expensive home sales. Homes sales over $4 million dollars showed a 51.7% transaction decline (29 vs. 45 in 2010). This resulted in a decline of nearly $156.5 million dollars in sales. Although these high-end sales represent only a small portion of total homes sold the dollar volume decline was significant. For a substantial part of the housing market, 2011 was a better year than 2010. In 2011, total home transactions increased from 251 to 263 and dollar volume increased from $326 million to $345 million.
Interestingly, land sales showed the exact opposite results for 2011. Total transactional land sales were down 18% (37 vs. 45 in 2010), but dollar volume was up 45% ($69 million vs. 47.9 million in 2010). In the $6 million and above range there were no sales in 2010. In 2011 there were three, totaling $26.6 million. Overall, land sales are a small portion of the Nantucket real estate sales market, representing only 13.2% of total sales volume.
For the last 2 years a large majority of the market transactions occurred below $4,000,000. In 2010, they represented 91% of all sales and in 2011 94.5%. Using that metric, 2011 was a very healthy year. Although transactions were even with 2010, dollar volume increased 26.3%.
Nantucket has a singular real estate market. We have a finite supply of some of the most beautiful real estate in the world. With a famously successful conservation effort, that supply has been significantly reduced. This creates a great dynamic by not only limiting the supply, but also enhancing the quality of the developed property. People respond viscerally to Nantucket's physical beauty, so the conservation effort makes Nantucket all the more desirable. That simple combination of constant demand and constrained supply creates a more stable market. Nevertheless, recent history has clearly shown that we are susceptible to the macro economy. Herein lies the difficulty in predicting what is in store for 2012.
With the European debt crisis still unresolved most economists are suggesting that 2012 will be another year of paltry growth. Some believe we will see a small recession. As I write this report, the Federal Reserve has stated that they will hold rates near zero into 2014. This is hardly reassuring.
In 2011, Great Point Properties compared the change in Nantucket real estate sales volume versus the annual change in the Standard and Poor 500 index. This comparison was based on the close of the final trading day of each corresponding year. Using 1990 as the base, the S&P Index has increased 281%, versus a total dollar volume change of 339%.
What this analysis shows is that the island real estate market, when not influenced by the market bubble of the mid-2000s, has moved very much in tandem with the S&P 500 index. The larger question is, "When will the economy, and therefore the S&P 500 and our real estate market, breakout of the decade long trend of treading water?" There was similar economic stagnation from 1968 into the early 1980s, albeit with inflation as a major problem. With the political climate in Washington having a significant impact on the economy, it is difficult to suggest 2012 will be much different than 2011. Therefore, Great Point Properties will accept the recent market activity as the goal for the coming year.
As mentioned many times over the last couple of years, despite the bleak economic environment, the real estate market on Nantucket offers significant buying opportunities, especially when looking at the historic sales trends of the last 30 years. Today we are in a more prolonged bear market than the early 1990s. As interest rates remain at historic lows and with banks lending again, the real cost of owning an island property has approached lows not seen for 10 to 15 years. It is an excellent time to buy on Nantucket and we still stand by the assertion that 10 years from now this will be seen as an historic buyer's market.
At Great Point Properties we believe in offering you the all information you need to make a successful transaction, whether you are selling or buying. We will not use hyperbole, just the straight facts, so you can gauge market conditions and make your own astute decisions.
Please visit our Market Update page for recent sales activity and statistics.
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A Note About Our Numbers
We analyze our multiple listing service, LINK Nantucket, and the weekly Nantucket Land Bank records to compile accurate sales statistics for the Nantucket real estate market. We do not include foreclosures by Financial Institutions, timeshare sales, and certain closely held sales that do not reflect a true market price.