Beverly 2013 Housing Review and 2014 Outlook

The Boston Globe named Beverly one of Greater Boston’s “top spots to live” and the real estate market in 2013 reflected this with very tight supply and hot competition for houses.

According to Brad Phillips, Partner/Managing Broker of Harborside Realty’s Beverly office: “homes that were well priced…sold quickly and often with multiple offers” and he expects “more of the same” in 2014.

My inventory reports last year consistently showed Beverly as one of the markets with lowest supply. Low inventory is “the singe largest factor we are dealing with”, says Phillips. “They are plenty of willing, qualifies buyers out there… but there are simply very few choices.”

While sales last year were close to peak levels overall, the median price in Beverly for a Single Family Home (SFH) was still 8% below peak levels. The law of supply and demand suggests that 2014 may well see prices move close to the 2004 peak.

Let’s look at the numbers and charts.

First, sales.

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Total sales were just 8% below peak levels. The number distressed sales- foreclosures and short sales – was steady. Non-distressed sales have increased 37% in the last two years.

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports
Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

 Median price: after holding mostly in the $320-350,000 range for several years, the median price moved firmly above $350,000 during 2013.

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

On an annual basis, the median price increased just 2%, although this seems to reflect the price mix of sales, i.e. more sales at lower price points.

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

One of my consistent themes is that the ratio (ASR) of Assessed Value (AV) to Sales Price (SP) can give a good indication of what is happening to underlying prices. If the ASR is above 100%  that means that properties are selling for less than their AV. Conversely, properties selling above their AV will have an ASR below 100%.

As we all hope our properties are worth more than the AV we look for an ASR below 100% as a positive sign. Remember that AVs are a lagging indicator: the tax bills for FY2014 are based on actual sales in 2012. Thus the 2013 sales data, reported in this review, will be the basis for FY2015 assessments.

What this means is that in a period of falling prices the ASR is likely to be rising. The ASR is the AV divided by the SP: if the SP is falling (prices going down)the ASR will rise. And when prices are rising, when the SP is rising, the ASR will fall.

So what we, as homeowners, want is an ASR below 100% and falling. Let’s look at the ASR for Beverly SFHs in recent years:

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

As we can see the ASR has been falling, an indication that prices have been rising. Note that while the median price increased only slightly in 2013 the ASR dropped from 98.6% to 92.5%, suggesting a larger underlying price increase, with the sales mix accounting for the difference.

2014 Outlook
Beverly has been working to improve and modernize its schools. A new middle school is in the planning stages and Phillips says:”this will be the last piece of the puzzle that will provide Beverly students with completely modernized, state of the art facilities.”

Beverly is a vibrant and exciting city. A tight housing market and strong demand suggests that prices will increase overall in 2014. 

See also my Beverly 2013 Condo Market Review

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead

Brad Phillips is the Partner/Managing Broker of Harborside Realty in Beverly and can be reached at 978.884.4823 or brad@harborsiderealty.com

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