2015 Marblehead Condo market review

The highlights of this 2015 Marblehead Condo market review are that sales recovered back to their 2008 level, while the median price – which must always be treated with caution in a small market such as Marblehead – declined slightly. Note the analysis of sales a little further on in this report. Click here to read my review of the Single Family market.

In the years from 2000-2006, sales of condos in Marblehead averaged 71 a year; from 2007-2014 that number dropped to 43. The 53 recorded in 2015, while the best since 2008, was still well below the levels from the early 2000s.

Median Price
Because of the small number of sales and seasonal variation (weather!) I do not report on quarterly numbers for condo sales. Marblehead condo market analysis is further complicated by the fact that there are two very different markets: the older, former 2-4 apartment buildings; and the newer, purpose-built (including some harbor front) condos.

Here is a chart of the last 5 years. Note the low numbers for 2012 and the first half of 2015 and then look at the tables below the chart.


The table below shows how in 2012 sales under $300,000 accounted for 62% of the total, while in 2013, 2014 and 2015, sales under $300,000 averaged 42% of the total. That tells us that the median price in 2012 was skewed downwards by the unusually high number of lower priced sales.


2015 was a good example of the bifurcation of the condo market in Marblehead, with a median price of $241,000 in the first half and $340,500 in the second half. So let’s look at the breakdown of sales:


In H1, 10 of 18 sales – 56% – were under $250,000, while in H2 only 8 of 35 sales – just 23% – were in that price range. Here again we see evidence of how the median price can be influenced by the breakdown of sales.

In Marblehead in 2015 sales of condos took place from $120,000 to $1.3 million. What this report confirms is that there is no “condo market” as such in Marblehead, but a number of different types of condos, the number of each of which coming on the market varies from year to year.

Assessed Value to Sales Ratio (ASR)*
See below for a fuller explanation of ASR, but if sales take place above Assessed Values, then the Ratio will be below 100%. In 2015, the median ASR was 85.8%, which means that the median condo sold for 17% more than its Assessed Value.


Even Marblehead was not immune to the challenges faced more widely in the condo market during the great recession, when financing became much more difficult for condos, particularly in mixed use and older developments. In July 2009 there were 50 condos for sale in Marblehead, but that number has dropped sharply in the last few years:


The supply of condos for sale in Marblehead has dropped, while there are few new condos being built or converted.That is a formula for higher prices.

* One way I measure prices is by the ratio (ASR) of Assessed Value (AV) to Sales Price (SP). Properties selling above their AV will have an ASR below 100%. What this means is that in a period of rising prices the ASR is likely to be falling. The ASR is the AV divided by the SP: if the SP is rising (prices going up), the ASR will fall.  So what we, as homeowners, want is an ASR below 100% and falling.

Remember that AVs are a lagging indicator: the tax bills that have just been sent out for FY2016 are based on actual sales in 2014. Thus the 2015 sales data, reported in this review, will be the basis for FY2017 assessments.

If you – or somebody you know – are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 617.834.8205 or Andrew.Oliver@SothebysRealty.com.

Read Which broker should I choose to sell my house?

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty. Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated

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